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Scrivener 101 | Is Scrivener Right for You?

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Two years ago, I wrote about why I use Scrivener for all my writing projects.

Everything in said post is still true, but it was very much focussed on my favourites rather than how it can help you, and I have learned a few things since that didn’t make it into the old post.

Never mind what I like about it–is Scrivener right for you?

I’m launching a new blogging series all about Scrivener soon (the first post is scheduled for two weeks from now!), so I also wanted a longer post to answer all larger questions in addition to the smaller 101 posts 🙂 I’ve made Scrivener its own category called Scrivener 😉 That way, you’ll be able to find all related posts in one place!

SO.

PROS

Scrivener is for writers

Scrivener was created specifically for writers, which means it understands what you need better than other programs might.

It comes with a bunch of handy features you don’t see in other programs, such as the type of WIP when you first create the project, goal tracker (more on that in a moment!), a name generator, and the option to convert your file to any eBook format.

If you choose to create a screenplay, for example, you’ll get options and a layout specific for that. This makes it accessible to any kind of writer, whether you’re writing a novel, a short story, or a screenplay!

Goodbye distractions

Scrivener has a full-screen mode, which gets rid of everything that’s not your WIP. If you get easily distracted by social media or other open tabs, then this is a god-sent!

It’s the only way I write in Scrivener, because it’s really just you and your draft. There’s not even a cross you can click to close it again–you have to press f11 (on windows) to get back! It took me ages of pressing random buttons to find the right combination, so you’re welcome 😛

Goal tracker

One of my favourite features is that you can set your overall WIP goal as well as your individual session goals.

It’s super easy–and super satisfying when your progress bar slowly changes colour!

Don’t worry if you’ve set the wrong goal. You can change it whenever you need to.


Convinced? You can buy Scrivener for Windows or you can buy Scrivener for Mac–whichever your prefer.


It helps you plot

If you told Scrivener that you’re creating a novel when you first set up your new project, it gives you the option to fill in character sheets and world sheets.

This is extremely handy, because it keeps all your notes in one place!

Personally, I prefer to plot a little more than that, but it might be just the right amount for you. Alternatively, check out my downloadable worksheets for character development, world building, and plot structure. They’re free!

Split screen mode

I haven’t used this feature much, but now I’ve discovered it I’m never going back. Scrivener allows you to open another screen next to your current chapter–like your character notes, for example.

That way, you don’t have to keep switching between the two–everything is on one screen!

Scrivener autosaves

Speaking of god-sents, Scrivener autosaves your work every few seconds and every time the program closes, which makes it pretty hard to lose anything.

I’ve never had a problem with it, but also always save manually just because I know it’s saved that way. Scrivener insists on creating a backup even if you do save your WIP yourself. All the peace of mind!

eBook conversion

Scrivener can convert your document into any eBook format. It’s not a feature I’ve used myself because I need to paste them into Word to format my paperbacks anyway. Might as well do everything there *shrugs*

I’m planning on writing my next newsletter-exclusive workbook in Scrivener and converting it this way. I’ll update this post when I’ve tried it.

Price

I bet you didn’t expect to see this under pros, huh? Well, Scrivener is pretty cheap and it’s a one-off payment. Unlike other programs which charge you more than twice Scrivener’s price every year, Scrivener only sets you back £36.99 once.

If that’s still more than you’d like to pay outright, don’t worry. Scrivener offers a free trial to use over 30 non-consecutive days–meaning, you can spread the 30 trial days out over as many months as you wish.

Because Scrivener can be complicated with its many awesome features, I recommend the trial unless you’re sure it’s for you.

If you are sure, you can buy Scrivener for Windows or you can buy Scrivener for Mac–whichever your prefer to use.

CONS

Autosaves… on your memory stick

When I first started using Scrivener, I opened my WIPs from my memory stick. It was so slow I almost gave up, until I realised it was so slow because I was using it from my memory stick!

Fortunately, you can easily work around that by loading your WIP from your computer or laptop. I was worried it’d be slow again loading from my laptop because it’s an older model, but it works perfectly.

Generally, Scrivener loads fast, updates fast, and saves fast. Just as long as you don’t use it from your USB.

No paperback conversion

While you can convert your eBook with Scrivener, you can’t do your paperback or open other file types. It’s my hope that these options become available in the future so I can use Scrivener exclusively, but I don’t know how likely that is.

Given that it’s a program for writers and many of us publish paperbacks, I’d like to think there’s a chance.

FAQs

Since I published my first post about Scrivener two years ago, I’ve been asked various questions about it. I’ve compiled the most common ones below 🙂

I’m not very tech-savvy. Is Scrivener too complicated for me?

Honestly, I’m not tech-savvy either and I manage. However, Scrivener has so many different features that mastering everything would be a steep learning curve.

It comes with a tutorial teaching you everything you might want to know. When I sat through it over two years ago, it was easy to follow and understand. The tutorial also stays available after you complete it, so you can get a reminder if you need it.

I recommend you start small. Don’t worry about all those shiny features, just use it for what you need. It’ll be easier to learn the basics necessary for you and add to them later than to learn everything right away and feel overwhelmed by the choice!

The options aren’t going anywhere, so just get used to it in your own time 🙂

Can I buy it once and install it in several places?

Yes! When you buy Scrivener, you receive a license which is good for five installments.

I was working from my computer when I bought it, but have since moved onto my laptop and was able to install Scrivener again without issues.

I recommend you keep the license you receive when you buy it close, in case you upgrade or want to use a different device in the future.

Can I edit my book with Scrivener?

Absolutely. Scrivener can do just about everything a regular writing program can do (as long as you don’t need to format your paperback) so editing your WIP is no problem.

The only thing missing is that you can’t open different file types. So, if you buy Scrivener and want to edit a book you wrote in Word, you won’t be able to unless you copy and paste the whole thing.

Books you wrote in Scrivener, however, you can edit without a problem just as you would in Word, for example.

In fact, you might argue that it’s easier in Scrivener because you can take a ‘screenshot’ of an earlier version and keep it open next to the version you edit. That way, if you decide the old version was better, you can easily go back to it without much fuss.

Tempted?

for Windows
for MacOS

If you’re not 100% sold yet, I recommend you give the free trial a go. It’s what I did, and you’ll be able to see whether it really is for you before you spend any money.


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2 Comments

  1. I absolutely love Scrivener! I have only just started learning it but it’s amazing! I can see my productivity increasing because of Scrivener. I still have a lot to learn but I know as I use the program more, I’ll learn even better features.

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      My productivity has definitely gone up because of Scrivener. Let me know if you have any questions! I’d be happy to help ^-^

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