Wednesday, 12 September 2012


I am always looking for ways to be better organised. Being an eternally messy, forgetful person in real life, I have to work very hard to keep a handle on all my writing ideas as well. I have wasted precious time looking for documents or references that I swore I wrote down or had in a folder… somewhere…  more than once.

I saw a program mentioned in a few places, Scrivener. It looked pretty neat. Even better, the site offered a free download and a 30 day trial. The trial runs for 30 days of actual use: if you use it every day, it lasts 30 days; if you use it only two days a week, it lasts fifteen weeks. Once the trial expires, you can export all of your work or buy a licence to continue using it.
It is a Mac program but recently made a Windows version.

So, I downloaded it. As I have mentioned before, I have a problem with one of my major works, where I just can’t see how it has gone wrong. I used Scrivener for about two days before I manned (or credit carded) up and paid the US$40.

It was so worth it.

You use it just like a word processing program, but you can also view what you have put into your document in three ways.

One: as a document with all the sections in one section.
Two: as a corkboard, with index cards and coloured pins
And three: as a summary table.

You can change from one view to another with the click of a button. I look in the summary table to see where I should be working, but organise scenes in the cork board view. I can view all the chapters in the cork board, or individual scenes within chapters. I have used screenshots from my current fanfic work to demonstrate. (but being tech inept - I hope you can see them)

Your document is kept in a binder with sections for research, characters, pictures, videos, and pdf docs; everything in one place. You can open a split screen and write while you are looking at your character bio. You can look up that pdf copy of a legal document without leaving your manuscript.

I tend to write all over the place in a document. I will start at the end, jump to the beginning and then fill in the in-between. I like to keep track of how many words a day I write. It will do that for me. It will set a daily/session target as well as targets for each section and the whole document itself. And you can see them in pretty colour bars going from red to green. Believe me; getting it though the baby poo green stage is incentive enough for me. Ugh.

It has a screen writing option, where word counts are not so important. 

In the corkboard mode I can see the whole story laid out. I can see at a glance; that actually, that scene ought to be before that one. And the cards can be just dragged around. I can add colour ‘keywords’ to each card to show where that keywords is relevant. I chose pink for sex scenes. lol. Or where a minor character appears. Everything seems to be tweak-able, from the pin colours, to card size, to backgrounds and screen colours.

The card pins are colour organised as well; green for a scene, red for a character etc.

I know that I haven’t discovered half the features yet. But if I am lost, there are even video tutorials on YouTube and on their site as well. Definitely worth the money for me.

Now let me at that old work in progress!