Scrivener – a comparison to Word, and why it’s better.
Hi everyone. Throughout 2016 I plan on doing semi-regular blog posts about self-publishing. I will post about the tools I use and the methods I employ. The first topic I wanted to cover is Scrivener, because if you are or want to be a writer, you really should be using Scrivener.
Word is what most people are used to–it’s been around a long time–but aside from it being very set in its ways and not updated all that often, it is expensive and more feature rich than many of us need it to be. Scrivener however is regularly updated, cheap to buy, and most importantly — IT IS DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR WRITERS.
That’s right, there is a word processor out there that is specifically designed for people who want to write books. Whereas Word is a one-size-fits all application that has become bloated over time, Scrivener is streamlined to provide the exact features that writers need. Whilst I still use Word for the odd task, I use Scrivener exclusively for my novel writing, and have done for some time now. Below are some of the reasons you should consider grabbing a copy of Scrivener for yourself. Links to purchase at the bottom of the page.
- Backups – I wrote a short story in Word last week and lost the entire thing by overwriting another document by accident. I have no idea what happened, or even how it happened, but I do know that Word offered absolutely no way to get it back. It was an entire day wasted. This would not have happened with Scrivener because Scrivener backs your shit up to the eyeballs. Every project I have started in Scrivener has its own automatically-generated folder which is teeming with previous file histories. With Scrivener, not only can I retrieve lost work, I can also access old versions of the same file. Handy for rolling back changes that didn’t work out.
- Make notes as you write – What I find VERY useful is that I can make notes that are attached to each separate chapter as I write. Ever been writing a scene and had a thought, or realised that something in the earlier chapters doesn’t make sense? With Scrivener you can jot down notes in the sidebar that you can go over later. This is so useful when writing draft 2 as you will have a bunch notes to remind you of what needs fixing as you go through the chapters again.
- Chapter Descriptions – Also note, in the above screenshot, there is a description of the chapter I am working on. Before I start writing my novels, I write a short summary for each chapter so I know where the plot is going. These descriptions appear as I write each chapter, and make sure I know what I’m working towards in each scene. Furthermore, when I have finished draft 1, I can then look at each chapter and see a description for each one — great when I’m trying to find a certain part of the story to go back to and make changes.
- Chapters are separate documents – In Scrivener, every act, chapter, and even individual scene can be it’s own separate document. The benefit of this is that it is very easy to visualise your overall story and check the flow and beats of the narrative. You can colour code different character scenes if you want, or separate chapters into ACT 1, 2, and 3. It is fabulous for plotting in whatever way you prefer. You can also drag and drop scenes to reorder them into any sequence you want–again, something that would be a nightmare in Word (copy and paste bitches).
- Corkboard and Research – Again Scrivener aims to help writers specifically through the use of features like the corkboard and research section. The corkboard allows you to display notes, chapters, images, and anything else in your story to make it easy to plan and sift through your thoughts. There is also a research section that allows you to pin webpages or supporting documents that you wish to refer to as you write. With Word this would entail the use of separate files and a web browser (not ideal if you are offline).
- Split-Screen – Want to have a photograph in front of you why you describe how one of your characters look? Well, you can use split screen to load up an image on one half of the screen while you write in the other. Or you can load a Wikipedia page up while you make notes about a very technical scene. Whatever you need to hand can be pinned to one side of the screen.
- Character and location sheets – Scrivener allows you to add Character sheets and Location sheets to you manuscript portfolio. You load one up, fill out the details, and can even add a photograph of someone you envisage (Brad Pitt?), then whenever you need to remind yourself of certain character details, you can click once and get it all in front of you. Then, one more click will get you back to your scene. Everything is all right there for you, organised along to the left hand side.
- Word Counts! – I love this. Scrivener allows you to set a ‘manuscript target length’ that will fill up a little progress bar as you write words. There is no better way to motivate yourself than by watching that little bar fill up. You can set daily writing targets that will pop up excitedly when you hit them, or even set individual targets for every separate chapter (great for working on pacing and balance). Scrivener will also record your word count for the whole day, so you know where you are at. I do 3000 words a day minimum when I am writing a novel, and Scrivener is great at pushing me towards meeting that goal.
- Templates – eBook, paperback, screenplay? Scrivener has templates for them all. Load one up and it will automatically generate copyright pages, TOC pages, etc. Nice little time saver!
- Compile straight to ebook – When your manuscript is finished, you can hit ‘compile’, but that’s not where it ends. You have the option to create a Kindle file, a print pdf, an epub, or other formats. Want to create your own ebook files to give to your readers, Scrivener will do it automatically for you. It will also allow you more control over what you upload to Amazon. Want to add little images to every chapter heading? Well Scrivener will let you automatically insert jpegs or gifs into the document that will appear alongside every heading — no need to add them individually for every single chapter like you would have to in Word. Table of Contents? Done. Subheadings? Done. I could go on.
- Bonus reason – Scrivener will automatically compile a Table of Contents from your chapters and back matter to form a complete book for you. It will also paginate for you properly for print (a massive headache in Word). Having every separate by nature means you don’t have to bother with page breaks and section breaks like you do in Word. It’s so much easier, like most things in Scrivener.
One extra reason:
It’s only $40! Compare that to Word, which is a lot more, and you’d be mad to use anything else to write your books.
To grab a copy, just click the banner. I will get a small affiliate commission for your purchase, but the truth is that I have been recommending Scrivener for a long time, but have only recently become an affiliate. I promise you that I use the program myself every single day and that it is every bit as good as people say it is. It is worth the money, you have my word. IRW.