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Scrivener: Part 2

So last time, I wrote about how I love using Scrivener, the fantastic long-form writing software I and many writers rely on. You can read it here if you haven't already.

Overly complex? I think not.

Scrivener has gotten the reputation of being overly complicated and coming with a steep learning curve.[1] It's true that Scrivener does have a steep learning curve, but for those who are willing to dedicate themselves to learning the software...or at least learning enough to get by — which is what I did — it's an incredibly powerful tool for anyone writing long form creations.

And Scrivener doesn't have to be limited to just books or novels. There's a whole other mode just for screenplay writers, by the way, that automatically creates documents using industry standards. I'm not a screenwriter, so I never bother with that mode which seems alien to me.

But as a blogger, I can create folders in my binder (that sidebar I mentioned last time) for each month and have weekly blog post as individual documents inside those folders. At a glance, I can see the entire organizational structure of my entire blog. This lets me remember exactly what I wrote, when, and when it was published. Sure, I can do the same thing with Word by keeping all the blog posts in one massive file, and then trying to figure out how to navigate back and forth between individual segments, but Scrivener makes it immeasurably easier and far more convenient.

Without having to go into the file management system on whatever operating system you use, everything you need for your writing project can be stored inside the file. Scrivener allows you to contain notes, entire websites, links, pictures, PDFs — all of your research material can be included inside the project itself, ready and available to pull up at a glance as you're working. As someone who writes long — and I mean long — form works, the ability to maintain yourself immersed inside the project without having to step into a separate program or some other device is priceless.

Behold, the power of Scrivener

To summarize, Scrivener has just about anything you could possibly need as a writer in its own toolchest. From writing to editing — you can even add footnotes, comments, and notes to each chapter or book or entry, whatever you're writing. One feature I like is the scratchpad — a little floating window that I can type whatever is on my mind at the moment, that will hover in the background. If I want to use it as a clipboard and add something to another chapter, I can. If I want to just use it as a brain dump to clear my mind for editing, I can. I can leave myself notes on individual parts of your project on the main project itself, use keywords and jump around back and forth through the document based on where I left little bookmarks to guide my way.

I can take the aforementioned snapshots while editing, I can outline, I can plot, organize, rearrange chapters...the list goes on and on and on. I'm serious, muchachos, the instruction manual with this program is hundreds of pages long. That's mostly what I feel intimidates people — they think they have to sift through all of this stuff.

Not so.

I use...I'm guessing here, so don't take this as gospel...but I use approximately 25 to 30% of the features Scrivener has to offer (yes, and I'm still heads-over-heels about this program!). While that may seem silly to pay about $50 for using only a third of the program's capabilities, what I get out of Scrivener in terms of time saved, organization, and productivity is invaluable and saves me so much time over fiddling with all the little bits and pieces of Word.

The fact that Literature and Latte have mobile applications for the iPad and for the iPhone, and the main application can also be found in a Windows version that's pretty much on par with the flagship Mac version is icing on the cake. Like everyone these days, I always have my phone with me — and I'm usually within arms reach of my iPad or my laptop. Hey, I'm a writer.

I can edit and create on-the-fly wherever I'm at. If I have five or ten minutes where I'm sitting in my car waiting to pick up my kids at school, out comes the phone or the iPad, and I can edit a page or two — or create a page or two of content. It doesn't seem like much, but if you do that repeatedly over the course of the day, the amount of work you can accomplish is staggering.

And — and — something that I've only recently been using — as in since about 2019 — is the integration Scrivener has with Pro Writing Aid, another application that is indispensable to my writing business. PWA is like an editor in a box: I take chunks of my manuscript — a chapter at a time, usually — and run them through PWAs algorithms. In return, they tell me where I'm using words too often, where my grammar and spelling is incorrect, and give me options and suggestions on how to improve my writing.

Since I have started using Pro Writing Aid, the number of reviews I've received on my books complaining about poor editing have dwindled almost to nothing. It doesn't replace the simple act of having a second set of eyes review a manuscript — don't get me wrong, I'm not disparaging editors at all...editors are lovely people and they save us authors from making fools of ourselves on a regular basis. But if paying for a real editor is not in the cards because you're a new author and don't have the funds or the contacts to find an editor, Pro Writing Aid is a more than worthy alternative. If nothing else, running your manuscript through something like PWA (there are others, but I've never tried them, so I don't feel qualified to talk about them) will give you a really good idea of how you can improve your writing.

As far as actually creating the manuscript, editing, and producing the writing, Scrivener does it all, and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

Full disclosure: Like the first post, I'm not affiliated with Scrivner or Pro WRiting Aid in any way, other than I use their products and can't recommend them enough. I don't make any money if you click on the links to their websites and purchase somehting, so there's no pressure fo ryou to do that. But you'd be smart if you did. I'm just trying to pay it forward and offer the advice I was given to the next generation of writers. FYI, Pro Writing Aid is having a Spring Sale so they're offering their service for 25% at the time of this writing (mid-April 2022).




[1] : This reputation is unfairly earned, I think. I mean, Word is always thought of as simple but that thing is super complicated...

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