About a year ago by this point, I made a big decision:
I was going to wipe my entire laptop.
DUN DUN DUNNNNNN.
My computer had been acting squirrelly recently, and my Apple Music had stopped working, and things were just being odd, so I didn’t feel at ease. I had to use it all the time for school, seeing as I was an online homeschooler (which I am no longer, because *hair flip* I am graduated! 😝), so I enlisted my dad’s help to get completely wipe and restart my computer.
It also lined up quite nicely with the fact that I wanted to purchase the writing application Scrivener. 😆 Which is clearly the actual point here.
It’s been about a year by this point since I invested in myself and my writing by getting Scrivener; I don’t remember any exact dates, other than the fact that it was sometime in October.
And now, a year down the road, I think I should do a little evaluation. *cracks knuckles*
If you don’t know what Scrivener is, here’s how Literature and Latte describes it:
Scrivener is the go-to app for writers of all kinds, used every day by best-selling novelists, screenwriters, non-fiction writers, students, academics, lawyers, journalists, translators and more. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write—it simply provides everything you need to start writing and keep writing.
I know many writers like to use Google Drive, or Microsoft Word to do their writing. I myself used Microsoft, and still think that’s a great word processor.
Besides that one time that it crashed and lost about 1k words of my writing during NaNoWriMo and I almost cried but that’s totally besides the point. I’m not bitter or anything.
So, the question becomes… what makes Scrivener different? Why would it be worth investing in? And is it?
What makes Scrivener different is that it’s made for writers specifically. While Google Drive and Microsoft Word have a sort of universal appeal, as they are so versatile, they can be a little lacking (and even frustrating, at times) for writers to use.
But then there’s Scrivener, which has a lot of features that are of no use to anyone – other than writers. And that is why there’s such an appeal to it within the community.
I will start by taking a look at a few of the features available, any cons there are, then talk about some of my personal favourite ones features, and finish off by giving you a peek into my own personal project; I’ll pull out my flash drive where I’ve stored the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel from last year and take some screenshots of places I used certain things.
Let’s jump right in.
As you may be able to tell from this one alone, some of these features were named in writer-lingo that we would actually understand. 😆
In Scrivener, there are a plethora of features you can use, yet only a few of them are things I can promise you’ll need; one of those is the binder.
This is the default view of Scrivener. If you look to the left, there is a whole vertical chunk of grey with a drop-down menu.
That is the binder.
This lovely, lovely feature of Scrivener allows you to make folders for your drafts, your research, your characters, your setting – whatever you want! All in one document. Yet if you went to print it, they wouldn’t be all stuck together.
You can create sub-files to each, labeling them however you want to and whatever makes sense for you. If you really like organization, that means that you can really keep everything straight. If you don’t, it means you can move things around as you will.
Why this is Great for Writers
Are you a plotter? A pantser?
If you’ve been around for a little bit, you’ll know that I don’t truly believe in that black-and-white view of writers. There are so many different kinds, and some don’t really fit either label. But whatever you identify as, the binder feature works with you.
You want to organize your draft into Acts, then into subcategories of chapters, then into sub-subcategories of scenes? You can do that!
You want to write on the fly and make up an outline as you go? You can do that!
You want to completely pants the whole thing and move around scenes to different places? You can do that! Literally by dragging and dropping. 😆
And here’s one of the best parts: you have all your different files in a single place!! This means no more having multiple files open on your screen at once – or trying to keep track of all. of. them. 🙄
Scrivener has a lot of features to it, and that can be a little bit overwhelming sometimes. You might not want all these things in your face, and would rather just focus on writing.
Which is where Composition Mode comes in.
Nothing here except you and the page.
And the option to alter it to your exact preferences, of course.
Why this is Great for Writers
You know aaaaaall those memes out there about writers getting distracted?
Yeah, well, once you’re in composition mode, it’s just you and the page. You don’t even have that header of options the way you do in Microsoft Word. You can just… write.
You see that little yellow pad of paper on the right side?
Those are your notes. You can create any in any part of the document, and they won’t transfer over to the rest; they’ll be specific to that scene.
In the past, I’ve talked about how you should take note of things in the middle of writing. If you want to go research something, realize you need to name something, want to edit something, or need to go back and foreshadow, then a good thing to do is just write that down and continue on with your current scene. That way, you stay in the flow of writing, and you may even save yourself some time if you end up not needing that. Respect your writing time, my dudes.
Why this is Great for Writers
Notes! Is perfect! To take my aforementioned notes!
When you need to note something, you can take note of it, continue on with your life…
And later on come back to it and see exactly where you need it.
*cue angel choirs*
I can think of literally only 2 cons when it comes to this application, to be honest:
There’s a tad bit of a steep learning curve to this application, simply because it can do so many things for you. If you’re a little bit of a nerd, then that’s not a problem, because you’ll be excited to learn how to do everything (like I was); just be prepared to sit down for an hour or so to at least learn the basics after you purchase this application.
But let’s be totally honest: does this even really count as a con? Because that’s pretty much what buying any application would entail. 😂 And it comes with a whole tutorial for the basics, which takes about an hour to learn, and after that everything else is purely optional. So… still not that bad. *shrug*
I don’t know who here watches my YouTube videos, but in my recent one where I was reading through my 2nd Draft of this NaNoWriMo 2020 novel (aka The Coffee Shop Book, as I like to call it in videos), I had a bit of a struggle figuring out how to compile my story.
This can be an issue when you want to self-publish, or even just print the whole thing. I eventually worked it out, but while I’m sure that I could eventually figure this stuff out, it is rather confusing to try and work out how to make your document look nice.
Personal Favourite Features
You can change so much about Scrivener! It can be personalized to your needs, as well as your project. You can change
- The background
- The way the binder looks (including adding emojis!)
- Your font
- The colours of… literally everything (which was awesome for me, since I used different colours for each POV, which continues to this day to help me find scenes from them)
- What composition mode looks like
This just really excites me, because it can really help set the mood and get you in the right mindset. Seriously, the first thing I did after I bought Scrivener and learned how to use the basics of it was make 7 different themes for The Coffee Shop Book. 😂 I especially consider this feature a major win because it can really help to set the mood of your story, get you in the right mindset and flow, and inspire you! Like, imagine literally anything as your background versus the default. SO. GOOD.
The Cork Board
In Scrivener, you can view all your documents as if they’re notecards on a cork board. And then you can click on your document and see all the subdocuments like that, too. It’s great. And aesthetic. 😆
Like I just mentioned, you can customize it, so you can make the background look like an actual cork board, or just a colour. You can view the notecards with descriptions of each scene that you can write up, or it will just automatically show as much as it can of what is written in it.
But that synopsis there is literally so helpful; you no longer have to scroll through a single document for ages, trying to find that one line that you need; you can quickly locate the correct scene by looking at each overview of them. (It can become even shorter if you customize stuff, as well, like colour-coding for POVs)
Word Count Tracker
I am really big on setting goals, and Scrivener lets you do that!
You can customize your goals, whether that be by word count, characters, or pages. You can set a deadline on it, create daily targets, and allow it to show pop-ups whenever you hit your goal for the day – or your ultimate one. This is extremely helpful for keeping track of words during NaNoWriMo, or if you’re a professional author trying to hit a deadline.
You can even customize the bar showing where you’re at so it changes colours, based on how close you are to your target. 😁 I certainly used that feature a lot last NaNoWriMo. Let’s see how many screenshots of it I can find in my media library.
A lot, apparently. 🤣
You have no idea how happy I was when I found out Scrivener has this feature.
If you have a random character and need a name, you don’t have to scroll through Pinterest for ages to find something (the way I would).
You can choose male, female, or either, first names, last names, both, how common or obscure names are… and just continue generating new names until you land on one you like!
This is probably one of the features I used the most while writing. You can pop open a small screen (that you can move to wherever you want on the screen) of a document, and then when you head into another one, it will stay open. I had this open every day on my outline, so it was literally right there as I wrote each scene.
If you’re not into the tiny version, you can also split your screen – either vertically or horizontally – and have each one open on part of your screen. I personally just preferred to have most of my screen taken up by the actual writing. 😊
First off: themes.
You can create themes for projects, but I went ahead before I’d even written a word and created seven to match the different moods of my book. 😂
As I’ve already mentioned, I adore the option to customize and create themes in Scrivener. It can set the mood for an entire book, time period, scene, or season. As you can see in my themes, my story spanned several different seasons, and having these themes helped cultivate the right mood and mindset as I wrote those scenes. 😁 Not to mention, it’s just really fun to design these. 😆
(If you need a tutorial showing you how to create these, I’d definitely recommend Abbie Emmons’ videos on it!)
This is what my Binder looks like. 😂 As you can see, I kind of went above and beyond with organizing it. There’s the main subsections to the whole draft (my Acts), the different Parts of the book (5 in total), my outline, my research, and notes on things like characters and settings.
Okay, we get it: there are amazing features. But is it a good program to use?
Here’s the short answer after this long post:
I love using Scrivener. I love sorting out my files, creating themes, watching my word count tracker go up, and even the difficulties that come with trying to compile it. 😆 I actually find it hard to recall what it was like using anything else before Scrivener.
So, is it worth the money?
This program is made for writers, allowing you to work how you want. It has features that are made to help keep you on track, keep you inspired, set the mood, and ultimately just write the way that you want to. It is 100% worth the investment.
And there’s still more things it can do!! I have barely even scratched the surface of all of the things Scrivener can do. Seriously.
If you want to use it for NaNoWriMo this year as we enter Preptober, then you can find it right here! There are versions available for both Windows and Mac. And, if you buy it… I’ll actually earn a small commission! 😁 I’ve recently become an affiliate for Scrivener, since I love it so much. If you do decide to make that purchase, you’re not only invested in yourself and your writing, but also supporting me, my blog, and my writing. 😊 My recommendation, however, still stems completely and genuinely from a love of Scrivener, so I hope you take that leap.
I truly do love Scrivener; I’ve been planning this post since the moment I first bought it. 😆 Seriously, this has been in the works for a while. I totally would recommend it. 😁
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
There’s only 1 more post before NaNoWriMo! 😱 The countdown has begun! If you want to see that post (which is all about NaNoWriMo), make sure to subscribe! You’ll get a free 7-day course on how to defeat writer’s block butt, emails with exclusive insider info, and the monthly password to my Resources page! 😃 I hope to see you on the inside!
What word processor do you use?
Do you want to get Scrivener?
And did you like all my themes? 😆