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More Things to Love about Scrivener

Photobucket [1]GIVEAWAY: One commenter will receive a copy of today’s profiled book, Scrivener for Dummies, which will be released later this summer. Winner to be chosen at random next Tuesday. Good luck!

Therese here. Today’s guest is Gwen Hernandez [2], the author of a new book of interest for writers that will be coming out this summer called Scrivener For Dummies [1] (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.). Not only is Gwen a Scrivener expert, she’s also an aspiring romance author, so she knows just what Scrivener needs to bring to the table for storytelling success. I’m excited to have here today to profile four things we might not know about Scrivener that could ultimately turn us into devotees–if that hasn’t already happened, that is. Enjoy!

More Things to Love about Scrivener

Did you catch Yuvi’s fun video on Saturday [3]? I’m totally on board with his basic premise: The best writing tool is the one that gets you writing. Whether it’s Microsoft Word, an old typewriter, or crayons and construction paper, just do it.

The tool that keeps me glued to my story is Scrivener. Why? Because it lets me write my way. I’m a fairly linear writer, but I also like to make notes for future reference, jot down snippets of dialogue for future scenes, keep track of possible storyline changes, and store research and photos for easy access.

With Scrivener, I can keep them all together in one project. It’s like a virtual version of my old Trapper Keeper with the unicorns and rainbows on the front.

When I met Scrivener three years ago, it was instant love. And that was before I figured out 95% of what it can do. To my mind, just the fact that it opened up right where I left off writing was worth half the price.

Jeanne Kisacky did a fabulous post about Scrivener last August [4] that included some of the best parts of Scrivener for Mac. Now Scrivener for Windows is out–and should be caught up to Mac within a year or so–and Scrivener for iPad is on the horizon. To celebrate, I thought I’d touch on some of my favorite features that Jeanne didn’t mention.

Choosing just a few things to talk about was like trying to decide which child I like better, but since I had to narrow it down, here are four things I love about Scrivener.

The distraction free zone. Scrivener can’t put the kids to sleep or stop the neighbor’s dog from barking, but its Composition mode (Full Screen mode in Windows) can cut out visual distractions.

What you get is nothing but a blank page and a background of your choice, with hidden access to other elements. Have you heard that blue is good for creative endeavors and red for detail work like editing? Change your background to suit your task. On the Mac version–and coming soon to Windows–you can add a photo to calm your nerves or remind you of your book’s setting. I’m partial to Switzerland and Bermuda.

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Goal tracking. Do you set daily or weekly word count goals to keep yourself on target? Scrivener’s project targets let you establish a goal for the manuscript, and a goal for each writing session. Progress bars show you how you’re doing on each. On the Mac, you can even set a deadline and let Scrivener calculate your daily goal for you.

Photobucket [6]But what if you’re working on an individual document (e.g. blog post, magazine article, scene, essay, or chapter) with a prescribed number of words? Use a Document Target. The progress bar shows up in the footer of the document you’re working on. When I was writing Scrivener For Dummies, I had to stick pretty close to my estimated chapter lengths. Document targets provided a quick visual cue for how I was doing.

Capturing ideas. What do you do when you’re knee-deep in a scene and you realize you need to know the average life span of a blue whale? Or you decide that your villain needs to make his first appearance at the baseball game, not the funeral parlor.

Don’t stop writing! Make a note to yourself and keep going. Scrivener gives you several ways to make notes. Annotations are little colored bubbles of text that you can insert right into your document as a reminder. Comments are similar, but let you link to a word or phrase and view the comments in the sidebar to keep the clutter out of your manuscript.

Photobucket [7]Just want to jot down a note about the scene, but not in any particular spot? Put it in the Document Notes. If it applies to the whole project, add it to the Project Notes. Or simply create an Idea Log or Change Log document.

Super searches. Ever wanted to find all the scenes in your manuscript where a secondary character appears? Need to know which blog posts referenced a particular subject?

A Project Search returns a list of all documents that match your criteria. If you use a specific search often, you can even save the settings for future use.

You can also search by format. The Formatting Finder scours the documents you select for annotations, comments, footnotes, text color, highlighter color, or character format. So not only can you add notes and color-coding to your project, you can easily find them again.

And there’s so much more! To sample Scrivener’s awesomeness, check out the free trial [8]. And if you’re already a user, tell me what you love about it or ask me your burning question about how to do something in the program.

Thanks to the Writer Unboxed crew for having me today!

Thanks for a fantastic post, Gwen! Readers, you can learn more about Gwen on her website [2], and by following her on Facebook [9] and Twitter [10]. Write on.

About Gwen Hernandez [11]

Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies [12], Productivity Tools for Writers, and the “Men of Steele” series (military romantic suspense). She teaches Scrivener to writers all over the world through online classes [13], in-person workshops, and private sessions. Learn more about Gwen at gwenhernandez.com [14].