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Dark Ink Press tries...Scrivener

As a writer I'm pretty old-fashioned. I start all drafts on paper, in notebooks, with blotchy, leaky pen. Sometimes I even use a fountain pen or my trusty typewriter. But I'm also a writer with a full time day job that eats up a lot of my writing time and I often wonder if it's "worth it" to fall into the trap of technology. Today I gave in and purchased Scrivener. With the latest release of Scrivener 3 and the ability to sync to mobile devices, I decided to give the outlining app a go.

Like a good little student I went through the tutorial first which, I have to say, is fairly easy to follow. At first glance, one would never realize just how many features there are within the program so the tutorial is a must. Part I simply walks you through the general features contained within the "binder" that Scrivener creates for each project. My favorite of these basic features is the ability to add footnotes that will later print out exactly where you place them. For those of you writing nonfiction or historical fiction, this is a great feature, especially if you're like me and spend YEARS on the research phase of a book and then can't keep it all straight by traditional means.

This is probably the feature that attracted me most to Scrivener-- the corkboard. If I had my way I would write like I used to when I lived alone: I had an actual corkboard above my desk where I would lay out my current novel. Of course, that always turned into a bit of a mess when the Post Its and index cards found their way onto the walls around the board as well. If I did that now, I'm pretty sure I would be in divorce court. Especially since all our walls are brand new and freshly painted. On top of that, all the information you collect in Scrivener can also be transferred into an outline, something I'm absolutely terrible at. I've downloaded and discarded more outlines than I can count so having one made from the information you've collected seems like a pretty good deal.

Once you create your own project, there's a sheet inside that walks you through what's available in your chosen format. Obviously I chose novel because I'm currently trying to get a new one off the ground. There are also options for nonfiction, script writing, and miscellaneous (which is a perfect descriptor for what the inside of my brain looks like). The novel format also contains pre-made sheets for both character and setting which is another thing that really drew me in. The more I write, the more I find I need to keep track of character and setting details so that they don't get garbled in the actual writing of the novel.

The only feature I'm not yet sure of is the overall compiling features. Scrivener reserves space for the front matter of your book, both print and eBook, which is great for someone who is self-publishing. However, if you're working with a publisher or you are a publisher, this section's worth remains to be seen (I'll be sure to revisit this in a later post).

I can definitely see this program dragging me even further down the research rabbit hole since I can now drag and drop resources into the references section and keep them handy, but the program also makes it easier to refer to those resources and turn them into scenes in your novel. The cards are easy to move, rearrange, and label so you can see in an instant what your book would look like if you changed some pretty simple details. There is also an option for taking a snapshot before you edit. That way, if you don't like your edits, you can revert to the old version, no harm done!

Now that I've created my project, I'll keep you poste (no pun intended) on whether or not this improves my output!

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