I have spent my life dreaming of a clutter-free desk. Alas, I am a writer, and behind every piece of ‘finished’ writing I produce, there are hundreds of scattered post-its and index cards, scads of pictures, research binders, books, and file folders, all of which find their disorganized home on my desk or nearby surfaces. If only there were some sorcerer’s stone that would transform my dream into reality at the wave of a hand. Well, maybe there is, and maybe it’s called Scrivener writing software.
Overview. First off, Scrivener software is not a word processing program; it is both more and less than that. Word processing software allows you to ‘process’ words visually; to put them on a page, and (when the software is cooperative) to have extensive control over how they appear. The gold standard in word processing software is WYSIWYG–What You See Is What You Get. For Scrivener, the better acronym is WYWIWYG—What You Want Is What You Get. Scrivener’s emphasis is not on how words appear on the page, but on facilitating the chaotic process of putting words into meaningful order.
The Interface. Scrivener provides an interface that organizes a number of disparate ‘texts’, notes, comments, and markers into a tidy and largely intuitive package. The Scrivener ‘window’ has a place for the current work in progress, for a related synoptic index card, for a more formal outline, for research and photographs, for character sheets (templates provided), for comments and notes, for older archived versions, and more. The Scrivener window is structured so that a number of these ‘texts’ are visible at the same time—text sections, index cards, keywords, notes, research information, earlier drafts, relevant reference files. Others are one click away. This makes the big picture and the individual sentence visible at the same time. This is liberating. It lets the writer focus on an individual passage, without losing ‘sight’ of the necessary related references that give that focus its inspiration and credibility.
Cork Board Editing and Making a Change Only Once. When it comes to ‘re-writing’, or editing, Scrivener can make changes simultaneously in related documents. This is magic. [Read more…]