Writing Tips: Scrivener


Unless I’m wrong, I’m guessing that most of you write with a word-processor, most likely, Microsoft Word.  I started there too and couldn’t fault it for short stories and poems.  But, when I got stuck into my novel and a fellow writer suggested I try Scrivener, I reluctantly decided to give it a try.

I didn’t want anything to take me away from writing, but apparently Scrivener would help me to organise everything (index cards, notes, character CV’s, PDF’s etc) into one place for easy access – and it does!  You get to create virtual index cards, stack and shuflle them until you get them in the order you want and then pin them on your virtual corkboard.

Admittedly, it does take a couple of hours to get to grips with it, but once you do, you get to reap the rewards.  Microsoft Word is still necessary, in my opinion, but Scrivener works at pulling everything together for novel writing and makes it easier to keep track of all those missing scraps of paper and pages of notes.

You type your novel in the main screen while, at the same time, you can see your chapter titles on the left of the screen.  Scribbled notes and comments on the chapter you’re working on appear on the right of the screen.  The function that I love most; is where you can have a narrow window running side-by-side with your current chapter.  Here you can view whichever chapter you need to scan over to ensure that you’re familiar with what you had written earlier.  It saves having to scroll through pages and pages of Word to find exactly what you need.

I would recommend downloading the trial version.  You can find it here.  This allows you 30 days of actual use to try it out – so if you only use it two days a week, it lasts fifteen weeks.  I found it so great, that after two weeks I bought it – at $40 it’s a steal!

You can then export your finished novel into a wide variety of file formats, including Microsoft Word, PDF and HTML or even self-publishing formats.

If you’ve tried Scrivener already, please comment.  If you haven’t then give it a try and let me know what you think.

About Susan Condon

Irish Writer and Poet. Award winning, published short story writer.

Posted on August 6, 2012, in Writing Tips and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. I bought it about 10 days ago after 16 years of writing fiction on MS-Word. I have the PC version of Scrivener and it;s fantastic. The program comes with its own in-built 2 hour tutorial that I completed in 4.5 hours. And that’s all you need. Don’t know how I managed without it all those years.


  2. Michelle Moloney

    I downloaded it and love it.


  3. I’m thinking about using this for my next book. Tried Storybook and I didn’t like it, but I’ve heard so many positive things about Scrivener, it would be crazy to ignore it!


  4. Yup.. great overview and recommendation! We started using it last year after fumbling with word and open office to create epub/mobi files.. the list of programs for each file output was growing and confusing. Now with scrivener everything is in one place, and when you compile for ebook files it saves your settings for each and the finished file is ready in a few seconds…. you can check it, tweak it, and recompile as many times as you want and it all is so fast! What a lifesaver this program has been in time, frustration, and lost files!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love scrivener! I am currently using it to write my poetry collection, From Ink with Love vol. 1, and my blog posts. It is a great software all writers should use. I do, however, can only hope that they add more features for editing purposes. Regardless, it is the perfect sofwares for us writers.


  6. I’m at the tail end of my free trial of Scrivener. Love it. It did take some time to orient myself, but it’s a fantastic program. The index cards and the ability to split screens are the highlights. The biggest drawback is a lousy formatting menu buried deep within sub-menus, which makes for either ugly text or extra work to format. I’d say the advantages outweigh that, though, and I’ll be purchasing this program shortly.


  7. I started using it last year. Wouldn’t use anything else. Great post!


  8. Nice post, Susan. I’ve used Scrivener for several years now and use it for essays, book reviews, and narrative nonfiction. In fact, it’s the only writing tool I use. Deleted Microsoft Word a year or two ago. What a memory hog it is. The split screen is a wonder, isn’t it? I use it to run through critiques of my writing from my online writing group. And Snapshot is just such a safety net; I love knowing that as many versions are safely tucked away behind the program. Just love Scrivener!


    • I only recently came across Snapshot! I love gadgets and gizmo’s and when it helps to get where you want to go I love them even more. When I have a little more time I look forward to checking out what else Scrivener has to offer. 🙂


  9. Howdy, Susan. Great write up for a great app! Another fan of Scrivener here. Been using it since 2010. Scrivener is one of the two main reasons I bought a Mac. (The other reason involved music creation.) I don’t know how I got along without it either. I do use dedicated software to keep my ridiculously massive amount of research stored and organized. I pull in to Scrivener only the data I need when I need it. That way the backups don’t take forever. I also backup two or three times a day and keep copies on Dropbox. And on external hard drives. Can’t be too careful, ya know.

    Glad to meet another fan of Keith Blount’s amazing writing tool. And glad you’re sharing it with others. Cheers! 🙂


  10. I use the Mac version of Scrivener on a daily basis. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.


  11. I discovered Scrivener last November while participating for the first time (and winning!) in NaNoWriMo. I absolutely love it! And I haven’t even taken the time to discover all it can do. Since then, I have also used the screenplay section for writing one during Scriptfrenzy last April. What I love best is the ability to load in pics for characters and locations, etc., and all sorts of places to store notes and research. I can’t imagine writing without it now.


  12. It’s a fantastic program. I love it.


  13. Hi Susan, I’ve been thinking about trying Scrivener for ages but wasn’t sure how it worked, so this is very helpful. Thanks 🙂


  14. Louise,

    On youtube, you’ll find quite a few Scrivener tutorials (of varied length and depth).


  15. Keep meaning to try that out. Thanks for sharing your experience of it. Useful to know 🙂


  16. You have me convinced – any chance of a tutorial? Somehow I doubt it will only take me a couple of hours on my own!!! Great post:)


  1. Pingback: Writing Tips | Everything Scrivener

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: