Sunday, 5 August 2012

In Praise of Scrivener

One question that frequently comes up on writers' boards is whether to use writing software. Does it help?

Well, as I've frequently said on this blog, I am something of a writing software junkie.  Or at least I was until I bought the software that cured me. It wasn't easy. It meant changing to a Mac computer, but I've never regretted it.

Now, I should say for starters that no writing software will do the work for you. But a good programme, like a craftsman's tool, makes everything so much easier. When I started novel writing I wrote in Word which seemed to serve my needs adequately during the drafting stage. It was only when a huge revision was needed that I realised its limitations. Don't get me wrong, Word is a brilliant word processor. It just isn't designed for large scale projects and when it comes to moving large chunks of text around it is clunky and slow. Not ideal. That was when I became tempted by Scrivener.

Scrivener is the perfect tool for novelists, although it can be used for any type of writing. You can organise your chapters and scenes right from the planning stage through to final revisions and shuffling things around is dead easy. The Binder, at the left hand side of the screen, shows graphically how your scenes are laid out so you can see everything at a glance. Your scenes are also summarised on index cards so you can move them around that way too. There are templates for character and scene descriptions, customisable full screen mode for writing without distractions, automatic backups and easy import of research files from the internet.  And loads more. Really, this programme has it all. I've never felt the need to use any other programme in the few years I've used it.

So, if you have a few bob to spend and want to make your life a lot easier you could do worse than buy Scrivener. You can even download a free trial first, to see how you like it. More details can be found here.

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