Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Scrivener



This week's tool is not free, but I feel it's worth every penny.

Scrivener

Available for Mac OS and Windows, the desktop version of this program is awesome.  Literature and Latte also offer a iOS app, which I have not tried yet.

Let's say you want to write a novel, or a play, or a screen play.  Scrivener offers templates to start you off on any of these paths, or you can start with a blank document.  Then, you can break your work down into chapters, and further into scenes.  Each of these goes up on the cork-board that is your work space in the app, allowing you to rearrange things ala a storyboard, if that's what you want to do.  You can also add character and idea notes, or pretty much whatever you want.

Many projects require research.  This is another area in which Scrivener shines.  Each project you start contains a research folder, where you can store notes, images, and PDFs.  You can even capture websites and add them.

A feature I just started using is that you can have multiple files open in the same window, either above and below or side-by-side.  I like to use this for my scene rewrites, so I don't have to page between documents.

Finally, once you're done writing, Scrivener allows you to format your project for publication, no matter how you want to do that.  If you want a traditional manuscript, it'll do that.  If you want an ebook, it'll allow you to include front matter, like a cover and gives you a number of file types to work with.  You can even see what your novel will look like in actual paperback format.

Scrivener contains a number of other bells and whistles, like Dictionary.com and Wikipedia integration, a name generator, and word count targets which can be handy.  Overall, I highly recommend it.

What I liked the most:

  • Flexability - Projects can be saved in a number of useful formats.
  • Oragnization - Break your work down into chapters, scenes, whatever you want.  It even allows you to keep your research with your project.
  • Design - Clean, simple design.  Takes a second to figure everything out, but the learning curve for basic functions is pretty mild.

What I liked the least:

  • The price - It's really not that bad.  Currently, the program is going for $40 and it sometimes goes on sale.  But, there are other programs, like SpaceJock's Ywriter, which are nearly as good, but free.
  • It's got some issues -  There are some problems with the program's ability to capture websites on Windows, but this can be worked around with browser plugins like PDF Mage.
Overall, a handy tool in your arsenal, even if you just want to use it for formatting.

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