Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Best Software for Novelists?

If you are a writer who has not heard of Scrivener, I would highly recomment it. If you are already using it, my guess is that you love it.  Before I begin my review, I want to assure you that I am in no way affiliated with Scrivener, nor am I being in any way compensated for my review. This post does, however, contain Amazon Affiliate links.

Scrivener is word processing software targeted at writers of long projects, novels included. These projects are broken down into subdocuments, e.g. chapters, scenes, research documents, etc. Most people are familiar with Microsoft Word, so I would like to share the advantages of Scivener over that program:

1. Scrivener allows the reader to view multiple subdocuments at once. For example, if you are working on a historical fiction novel set during WWII and want to quote Winston Churchill, you can have both your text and a copy of one of his speeches open simultaneously . These two subdocuments can be viewed side by side or one atop the other. Perhaps you are modeling a character after an actor or model. You can view an imported photo of that person beside the text of your novel as you write your character's description. To make it super simple, there is a "Binder" (think of it as a table of contents for your project) to the left of your text editing screen which allows you to quickly select your subdocuments.

2. The ability to easily import research documents, photos, and video from online is invaluable, particularly if you live in an area with unreliable internet connection. I am sure every author has had the experience of minimising their MS Word document to open a new window to view such research and spent a great deal of time clicking back and forth. With Scrivener, you don't need 100 folders saved in the documents on your computer to try to organize everything. It's all right there in the binder.

3. Moving chapters and scenes is easy. Not every author writes their novel in chronological order. No more copying and pasting huge amounts of text, clicking "Cut by accident, and then panicking that you've lost 20 pages of work. Simply select the scene or chapter in your Binder and drag it to the order you prefer.

4. Character Cards and Place Cards are easy to make and quickly available in the binder. Did you forget what color Mary's hair is? You don't have to go find that ruber-banded stack of index cards to remember. Again, the information is one click away in your binder.

5. Scrivener also has a tool called the Inspector. The inspector can be viewed to the right of your Editor. As you write a scene you can take notes and write a summary in the Inspector. These notes can later be viewed as an Outline with the click of a button.

There are three major disadvantages to Srivener. The first is that the program is not always self-explanatory. If you do choose to purchase it, I strongly suggest going through the entire tutorial. This will take two and a half to three hours, but trust me, you don't want to guess how to do these things later. The second is that agents / publishers are most likely not going to accept a Scrivener document. You will probably have to export it to MS Word. The third downside is that there is no mobile version for Android. I do quite a bit of work on a Samsung Tablet because of its highspeed mobile connection. I cannot work on a Scrivener document on my Tablet. Hopefully, that will change soon.

Please... please, Scrivener make that change soon.

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