Some time ago I tried an early version of Scrivener for Windows.I was excited at the prospect of having this much-lauded software available on my PC. What could be so good about it? What was I missing out on? Why had so many writers raved about it? In short, I needed to know.
Well today, I finally found out.
Initially, the early version of Scrivener in beta release looked interesting. However, frequent updates, which are normally a good thing, came with too high a price for me. We had been warned not to use the beta release for real work. i.e. anything that you would not be prepared to put up with losing. I tried to move the then “current” version of my masterpiece onto it, only to have the next update to the application lose it. It was a copy so no harm done. Except that I couldn’t really devote the time to testing it that I wanted to.
Fast forward to November 2011 and Scrivener 1.0 for Windows became available as a commercial offering. With a price tag of just $40 and a generous usage limit on a full-featured demonstration version to try, I downloaded it and began the tutorial. Having completed approximately 50% of this, I decided that I liked it and so went about the task of importing my manuscript. Scrivener imports many word processing formats directly but as I have been using Pagefour from Bad Wolf software as a recommended alternative to Scrivener (for Mac only), the transfer was neither as good as I initially hoped for nor as bad as I subsequently feared. Suffice to say that it took a lot more cutting and pasting than I expected but it still only took an investment of some 15 minutes to have everything I wanted within Scrivener.
The Corkboard layout, apparently, is not for everyone but I absolutely swear by it now. Already. I laid out the chapters (currently numbering 14) and switched to the Corkboard view. This shows a representation of your hard work as virtual “index cards” pinned to a Corkboard. Then the real fun begins. You can add text to the “cards” and simultaneously have a notes area displayed on the right hand side of the screen. This holds notes for each card as an aide-mémoire for your ideas. This morning, I looked at the cards and filled in details that I thought I could use when voila! I could see my story before me and I realised that it was not flowing in the correct timeline. I adjusted the card order by dragging them about the screen only to find that this had also moved my manuscript chapters accordingly. Brilliant! I spotted some gaps and filled them in with new cards, added notes, marked them as “To Do” and I can really see the whole coming together.
Do you have any favourite writing software? Please do let me know.