Log in

04 March 2014 @ 01:25 pm
Scrivener . . .  
I am so sick of a billion bits and scraps of paper all over my desk, I'm girding my loins and going in for a second try at Scrivener.

I tried it a couple years back, but it kept crashing on my old PC. So far, it seems more stable on this Mac. After many, many frustrated hours and promises "I;ll come back to that later" I'm facing part two of the tutorial . . . any warnings, hints, etc, most welcome. I am so very not a tech head--while the tutorial seems clear and informative, it was written for humans with real brains, not pea-sized simulacra. I need super-simplified instructions to read the simple guide to the rudimentary introduction to the one-syllable-word preface to the preparatory baby step-version of the tutorial . . .
Ulrikaakirlu on March 4th, 2014 09:30 pm (UTC)
Never tried it, I use MSWord. Good luck.
EQUAL-OPPORTUNITY ANNOYANCE: Cats - Sora and Nefertelophase on March 4th, 2014 09:41 pm (UTC)
Between searching online tutorials and buying an ebook about it, I managed to bash Scrivener into the shape I need for rewriting manga. Alas, I cannot help you for anything other than my very, very narrowly limited needs!

(I wouldn't assume that you're the one at fault when it comes to the directions...I was literally in tears of frustration at a couple of points in the process! Luckily, once I got it hammered into shape, it suits my needs very, very well.)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 4th, 2014 09:45 pm (UTC)
I am determined to bash my way through the tutorial before I make up my mind about buying. They are very generous with their thirty day trial, thank goodness.
(no subject) - thomasyan on March 4th, 2014 11:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Green Knight: Wordsgreen_knight on March 4th, 2014 09:57 pm (UTC)
Take a look at Storyist (http://storyist.com) if you like the idea of Scrivener but find the whole thing too overwhelming. I found Storyist a lot friendlier and a lot more inspiring. (It, too, has a generous trial.)

For me, Scrivener felt like a chore, while it took less than five minutes with Storyist to go 'ooh, I can see how this feature would be useful'.

Also, the developer is very much on the ball. This is my favorite tech support story: I had a persistent, and extremely weird, crash, and after the third time added my e-mail address to the crash report. He wrote back, we went back and forth a couple of times about possible causes, and the next day I had a beta with the problem fixed. Now *that* is customer service!
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 4th, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC)
Right now I am going to continue with this since I've come so far, and since it seems to have elements that would suit my kitchen sink type of process, but if I bail, I'll have this link to come back to. Thanks!
(no subject) - galeni on March 5th, 2014 05:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 5th, 2014 02:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - birdsedge on March 7th, 2014 12:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 7th, 2014 12:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
Tucker McKinnon: Clairvoyancejazzfish on March 4th, 2014 10:06 pm (UTC)
woo Scrivener! I get quite a lot out of it even though I'm only using maybe a third of its functionality, just because it makes it *so* *easy* to write in scenes and jump quickly between them.

I suspect it has capabilities I've never even considered. Maybe I ought to step through the tutorial myself at some point...
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 4th, 2014 10:08 pm (UTC)
I can dimly (very, very dimly) see that it might be useful for somebody like me who is inclined toward a billion different components, timelines, maps, and other kafuffle.
a_d_medievalist: nannya_d_medievalist on March 4th, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC)
I tend to use only the bare minimum of what it can do, but I do find it fairly easy for doing things like writing chunks.
thistle in greythistleingrey on March 5th, 2014 04:22 pm (UTC)
Likewise--I've used it for drafting bits of conference papers, though once I have the pieces in order, I tend to use Word or similar for the final stitching-together. One thing I like is that one can use only Scrivener's minimum.
Edward Greavestemporus on March 4th, 2014 10:19 pm (UTC)
I've managed to muddle my way through Scrivener (for windows) and it seems to be working out OK. Took a while, but I suspect that's because they were doing so much rapid programming on the windows front to catch up to what's going on for the Mac side. So, your program should be more stable.

I've been recommended an online course which takes you through the program and helps you with all the features. Unfortunately, I didn't take it, because apparently I'm a masochist, and would rather struggle with the software for my writing rather than do what I do for work, which is go take the class so I can do my job without fuss. Yeah, that doesn't make any sense to me either. Never said I made any sense.

I'm sure you can get the hang of it. If the cost is a concern, I bet you can find a coupon code for a discount. They usually have discounts. (That's how I got it, with one of the NaNoWriMo coupons.)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 4th, 2014 10:20 pm (UTC)
I think the price is quite reasonable for what one is getting; I just want to make sure I can actually use it before buying it.

I might have to work through the tutorial several times. work in progress, as they say.
(no subject) - temporus on March 4th, 2014 10:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 4th, 2014 10:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Malkin Greymalkingrey on March 4th, 2014 11:02 pm (UTC)
I've been finding Scrivener very handy -- I'm a "collect a bunch of different-colored beads and then try to string them together in a logical manner" kind of writer, and it's good for that.

I'm fairly sure I'm not yet using even a fraction of its capabilities, but what I am using works really well. Then again, I've always approached new word processing programs by plunging into them and flailing around.

(I still use WordPerfect for final draft and formatting, because I know those parts of WordPerfect cold.)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 4th, 2014 11:08 pm (UTC)
It appears one can export to Word, and suck Word into it. That is a big deal for me.
(no subject) - birdsedge on March 7th, 2014 05:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 7th, 2014 06:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Estara: pic#2810740estara on March 5th, 2014 12:02 am (UTC)
Best of luck! Our school has installed Word 2010 on everyone of the much faster pcs that are available to the teachers (for entering grades and printing out stuff) in the teacher's lounge.

I work with Word 2003 at home and that whole ribbon kerfluffle and the lack of intuitiveness, because a whole different user paradigm has taken over (must be like using Windows 8.0 - I am quite happy with Windows 7)...

If I just want to change or adapt or throw together a work sheet, it just takes aaaaaaaaaaaages.

Therefore: best of luck in your endeavour!
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 5th, 2014 12:13 am (UTC)
A large duckburger_eater on March 5th, 2014 12:36 am (UTC)
I have been using Scrivener for a while now and, like most people, suspect I would be happier with it if I could tease out more of functions I would have use for from all the rest. How I use it:

Scrivener Screencap

I hope that's not too wide.

Since taking this screencap, I've moved my dock to the left side of the screen so I have more room vertically.

The floating "Project Targets" window opens by pressing Shift + Command + T and is pretty customizable. I'm easily distractible, but watching the numbers change on that window helps keep me focused. You can also set a final wordcount and a deadline, mark the days of the week you write, and it will tell you what you have to do each day to hit the mark. Pretty cool.

"Goof" is a folder I created, which is a place for me to keep all my brainstorming and notes. That's always the bottom screen.

If you look at the header above the top text entry area, you'll see the chapter heading "Toys". To the right of that is two fat arrow and then an empty rectangle. That rectangle is the toggle switch that gives you two text fields or one. In the image isn't a single window because that's what I don't have. In the program it'll be a bisected rectangle. That's how to open the second window.

On the right hand side is where I keep the synopsis, although I'm experimenting with having the synopsis in the bottom window.

I've also taken those rulers off. Hate them.

You can see some of the documents have red or blue "books" as their icon. Those stand for different POV characters. Some writers create separate folders but I just right-clicked the change the icon.

Under "General" on the right hand side (which is collapsed in the image above) is a check box for "include in Compile". Check that for any documents that actually contain the finished product (like the story, the title page, "about the author" whatever) and uncheck it for any notes, synopsis, character sketches, or the like.

One of the options in the Project Targets window is that you can only count what you write in Compile-able documents.

I like to open Format -> Options -> Typewriter Scrolling so that new text is always added to the same place on the screen (also good to keep me from losing focus). This feature will put your cursor in the middle of the screen, a third from the bottom, a quarter from the top, whatever you prefer, and this can be changed in Scrivener -> Preferences -> Editor

One of the first things I like to do is to open Project -> Meta-Data Settings then click the "Project Properties" tab to fill in the title and your name. When you compile the finished project, the code will fill in information from there, so it's good to have it done early.

Also, remember that pretty much everything is a text file if you want it to be, including folders. At some point I'm going to be knowledgeable enough to finesse that. Until then, you can click the options in "Group Mode" (which is called "view mode" in the image above) until you get an empty doc file.

I would also recommend opening Scrivener -> Preferences -> Backup and setting the backups to automatically save into their own folder. I save Scrivener files into Dropbox, but the backups go to Dropbox/Scrivener Backups (or something) because otherwise the list will have 11 copies of "Awesome Epic Fantasy.scriv" to pick through to find the main file.

Finally, if I highlight the Research folder and go to File -> Import I can import web pages into the folder. That's great for saving things like Wikipedia pages locally so I can reference them while writing offline.

The main thing to keep in mind about Scrivener is that it's mainly a huge scaffold that lets you place all sorts of separate files into it and move them around. It can get pretty sizable.

That's basically what I do with it, aside from fussing with fonts or whatever. I hope it's useful.

Edited at 2014-03-05 12:38 am (UTC)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 5th, 2014 12:50 am (UTC)
Whoa. Okay, I have printed this out so I can study it sentence by sentence. I can see that we have different work habits (I pay no attention to word count until the final draft, and never set goals) but there are some overlaps here that I think might prove very useful.

(no subject) - burger_eater on March 5th, 2014 01:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 5th, 2014 02:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
Scrivener - James Orr on March 5th, 2014 07:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Scrivener - burger_eater on March 5th, 2014 07:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - paragraphs on March 5th, 2014 01:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - burger_eater on March 5th, 2014 01:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - paragraphs on March 5th, 2014 01:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
Ceeparagraphs on March 5th, 2014 01:39 am (UTC)
I have the PC version, the Mac version is different, but stick with it! I have found it very useful at least as far as organizing notes and outlines and such - in fact am plotting a post about what I am doing with it. There are a lot of templates out there that people have come up with, and it really is quite clever.

I still prefer to write in Word, however. I use Dropbox and can access my story at work, at home, and on all three of my computers. I do keep my scrivener files in dropbox too but LOL don't have Scrivener on my work computer - probably a good idea. :)

Ceeparagraphs on March 5th, 2014 01:41 am (UTC)
BurgerEater's example is from the Mac version and I can see a number of things my Window version can't do yet. I wish they would hurry up with that!
(no subject) - sartorias on March 5th, 2014 02:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - paragraphs on March 5th, 2014 03:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
barry_king: one handed writingbarry_king on March 5th, 2014 03:51 am (UTC)
OK - I use Scrivener. But I'm so much a control freak about my word processor that I absolutely refuse to use MS Word (well, I'm OK with version 4, but you can't find a computer that runs it anymore). So many word processors try to be "helpful" that for a while, I used a plaintext (computer code) editor for everything, because it best simulated a typewriter.

There's a number of features of Scrivener that I don't use at all (research notes, character profiles, and so on). But I do like the way that you can storyboard your story and re-arrange it. It made a major revision of one of my novels child's play.

I also like that the editing screen doesn't try to tell you what to do, and doesn't get in the way of writing, and the full-screen mode takes away all sorts of distractions. Also, it SAVES every few seconds so you don't lose anything when power/bugs/crashes interfere.

On the other hand, I'm a tech from way back, and despite what I think is a deep understanding of computer document processing, I find some of the export and formatting options not only non-intuitive, but actively confusing, and the documentation about the most confusing features is missing. Annoyingly, the documentation about the stuff you can figure out on your own in five minutes is replete with detail. This points to a lack of mesh between the developers and the documenters. I don't think there's a cure, and I'm beginning to suspect that the most confusing parts of Scrivener will never be well explained.

However, I've written everything in the past four years on Scrivener, so of a bad lot (word processors in general), it's been the best of.

Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 5th, 2014 05:18 am (UTC)
ellarien: computers2ellarien on March 5th, 2014 11:04 am (UTC)
I wrote a long comment and LJ ate my cookie and then my post.

Just a couple of thoughts:

It helps to remember that the novel lives in the 'draft' (or 'manuscript' folder, and that there are limits to what you can import into that folder that don't apply to other folders such as 'Research.'

It's a good idea to increase the limit on the number of backups saved from the default five, and also to make rough compiled-to-word versions every chapter or so, just in case.

The help forum on the official web site is very helpul and friendly. There's also a Google+ community, Scrivener Users, with some knowledgeable people. (Probably mostly the same people that hang out in the forums, I suspect.)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 5th, 2014 02:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
wldhrsjen3wldhrsjen3 on March 5th, 2014 01:37 pm (UTC)
I started using Scrivener this January and have mostly been muddling my way through. I have ZERO aptitude for computer tech and I know just what you mean about the opacity of the tutorial. It took me three days and gave me a massive tension headache to go through the tutorial, and by the end I still felt like I had no idea what to do with the program. But a friend told me just to open a project document and give it a try - sort of a learn as you go approach - so that's what I've done. I'm certain I'm missing most of the available features, but y'know, I'm using the ones I needed and I love them.

I've got the Mac version, so I don't know if that makes a difference? But I love, love, love how easy it is to draft a project, move scenes around, work from two documents at once, and edit. There's also a snapshot feature so you can make a change and see the original version - which has totally opened my world, because I am a horrible second-guesser and have a terrible time revising things because I always worry I'm just going to make them worse. :P This way I can make a change and then LET GO because if I want the original version I can easily flip back to it.

The aspect I'm not sure how to use right now is the compile/ format stuff, but I'm talking to a friend tonight who has years of experience with SCrivener and I'm hoping she'll talk me through it. I'll pass along any hints from her, if you'd like them.

Really, I've found that using Scrivener isn't as hard as the tutorial makes it seem, if you just jump in and mess about with it. :)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 5th, 2014 02:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I plan to do that with a small, simple project, once I finish the tutorial.
Alice Janelljealousofstars on March 6th, 2014 01:41 am (UTC)
It's definitely a learning curve to understand Scrivener, but once you get it and use it to suit your particular writing style, it's GOLDEN.

The best tutorial I have seen for beginners is Ilona Andrew's tutorial. It's about seven minutes long, but it's basic and simple and good for starting out. You can watching it HERE . Hope it helps! It definitely helped me a lot.

I think one thing that makes Scrivener so daunting, is that it does have a lot of (amazing) features, and there is a bit of pressure to understand everything it can do right away.

I've been using it for years and still don't know all the things it can do, but I can't imagine ever going back to just using MS Word to write a novel either. I still use Word for edits, but the bulk of my writing is done in Scrivener.

Best of luck!
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 6th, 2014 02:24 am (UTC)
Thank you!
cschellscschells on March 10th, 2014 05:09 pm (UTC)
I'm late to the conversation, but do you get the sense that one should learn it while starting fresh with a new project? Or could I import my (hopefully soon-to-be-finished) first draft and use it for editing/adding sections?
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 10th, 2014 05:41 pm (UTC)
It seems to me that it depends on how complicated the project is. I am not immediately sucking in massive stuff because I suspect it would take longer to learn the system than it would help. I'm going to start with something simple, learn the system, and then tackle The Nightmare.
(no subject) - cschells on March 10th, 2014 06:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sartorias on March 10th, 2014 06:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cschells on March 10th, 2014 06:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)