Writing Tech Part 2: Scrivener

In my last post, I discussed Literature and Latte’s quick note taking software for writers–Scapple. Now it’s time for Scrivener. Scrivener is a nifty program that allows writers to organize, construct, and structure their novels, stories, research papers, and scripts. It’s all about accessibility, much like Scapple, but on a larger scale. Imagine having your plot outlines, research notes, reference materials, and inspiration aids side by side with the first draft.

Your Draft

Scrivener allows you to construct your chapters and scenes in a seamless, single document that distinguishes between each section so you can easily identify one from the other. If you’re writing a novel and want to look back through the third scene of the seventh chapter, you can access Scrivener’s navigation Binder. Listed under your novel title will be each chapter you’ve created, and if you chose to define them like so, each scene within the chapter. You can breeze right through and access the proper location without scrolling endlessly. Of course, the section headings in the navigation are only there if you choose to structure them this way; if you’d much rather write a single draft straight through to the end you can do so easily.

The far left navigation panel is the binder where you can see the headings and subheadings of your work, research notes folders, and templates for character and setting sketches. The middle panel is the draft. Notice the dotted lines–those divide each scene given its own section. On the far right is the outline panel. You can view these panels on one screen or take a look at the full screen view by selecting an option at the top-middle of the page.

Your Outline

The outline view in Scrivener allows you to look at these drafts on a cork board style bulletin board. It posts each section heading on a note-card box with space for notes from the author. This gives you a visual representation of your novel or short story and allows you to really accomplish Scrivener’s big feature: reorganization. What if, nearly halfway through the first draft, you realize that the fourth scene of your story should really go after what’s now the fifth scene? If you’ve utilized sectioning in the draft, you can use the outline view to decide what needs to be moved around. Scrivener allows you to arrange and rearrange scenes without difficulty. The outline view is just another tool to aid you in planning these big shifts.

The difference between this screenshot and the last? I’ve clicked and dragged “Scene 2” and placed it before “Scene”. This moves the entire section of my draft. In the middle pane, the sections have moved as well. My example only includes a few words in each, but you can do this for whole chapters as well. Note: note cards in the right panel can be given detailed notes for the author to refer to when looking at this bulletin board style view. Right now, mine are empty.

Your Research And References

Going back to the binder navigation, you can find tabs specifically set for research and notes. You can pull these notes, pictures, and diagrams (perhaps from Scapple) onto the screen while you’re writing; don’t ever feel the need to switch between a mess of documents and browser tabs again. This reiterates the overall theme Literature and Latte’s business model: organized writing makes for good writing. While I don’t always feel the need to organize every aspect of my stories, or scenes, I see the benefit in using a program like Scrivener.

Like with Scapple, Literature and Latte offers a free 30-day (nonconsecutive) free trial for Scrivener users.


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