Thursday, December 17, 2009

Scrivener to the Rescue

As promised, I spent the week investigating tools to keep me organized as I write.  Keep the focus. Well, low and behold, I found a software program designed for just that. I downloaded a trial version of Scrivener and have been playing with it all week. I’ll dedicate this blog to sharing some observations. 

Bottom line first? I like it. My WIP is currently at 40,000, intended for about 50,000. I entered all my info into Scrivener and used it in place of Word to continue with the final chapters. Here are some observations of this experience.

The bulletin board is awesome. I can “post” note cards with all my chapter notes and color code them based on whatever category I choose. I chose to make the thumbtacks a different color for whatever POV I was in. Then I put “stamps” on for the heat level of a chapter.

The word processing is about the same as Word, only not quite as smooth. I figured when the story is written, I will do the final formatting and such in Word.

It has a word usage feature. You can scan each chapter to see which words you use A LOT. I did one chapter and it found the word “like” twenty seven times. Yikes…

It has an outliner, but honestly, I did not use it much. I like the bulletin board. It’s visual and so am I.

So does it make you a better writer? No. If you write lousy opening the software, you’ll write lousy closing it. It does nothing to help flesh out character arcs or plot. But it’s not designed for that. It has tremendous value in keeping your details organized and before your eyes. Don’t remember what points you brought up in chapter six? It’s right in front of you on the BB.

I haven’t decided if I will buy it. There are other software packages that might be better, and I will probably give them a quick spin. But I give this one a thumbs up. It does exactly what I have tediously done in an Excel spreadsheet, only with fun colors and a make-believe bulletin board.

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