Mike Mckay's picture
Mike Mckay is reading God's Ashtray November 7, 2011 - 7:20am

Good morning everyone,

Less than 24 hours ago I finally looked up this "Scrivener" software and I have to say man does it look great.
Does anyone have this program? And is it worth $45?

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break November 7, 2011 - 8:41am

My writer buddy Gordon Highland raves about it.  

I think it lets you give it a trial run if I'm not mistaken, yes?

Mike Mckay's picture
Mike Mckay is reading God's Ashtray November 7, 2011 - 9:39am

-_- Just noticed it. I'm in the campus library at the moment. Will give it a go on my laptop later today.

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind November 7, 2011 - 10:31am


I have the software. It's the only software I've paid for in about five years. Every dollar is worth it. In fact, they could charge double that amount and I'd probably buy the program.

There are a lot of reasons to try Scrivener out. And you CAN try it for 30 days before forking over the dough to own a license, I should say. But these are the reasons I use it:

  • Ease of Use. Part of my day job requires learning new programs. In my CV I say I'm open to taking classes and learning the ins-and-outs of whatever program my potential employer wants me to use. This doesn't mean I want to spend my off-hours learning a program for my personal use, however. 
    When I downloaded my free trial of Scrivener, I doubted I'd be using the program for more than five minutes. 
    An hour passed. I was hooked.
    Setting up my project was easy. Importing my manuscript and seperating it out by chapters--and then scenes--was easy. 
  • Distraction Free. I don't need to worry about anything while writing: formatting, font changing, none of that. Once I got my document set up, I was on my way.
  • The Binder. The binder is a lifesaver. Previously I kept all my notes in seperate word documents and spreadsheets. I'd open all of them up when writing, meaning a mess of open files all over my desktop, and I'd have to search through these digital notes when I needed to know something. What was worse was when I kept my notes in a notepad. Yeesh.
    But the binder feature eliminates all of that hassle. I can create a character folder, and within that folder I can import all my character notes for an individual. I can stick some photos or doodles of what I think he looks like in that file, and when I need to reference it, all I have to do is click to his document. No billions of files open. I can import web pages for research, if I needed, and my synopsis and outlines are always within reach. I can split my writing into chapters and scenes for easy rearranging if I needed it.
  • Targets. The program was originally developed for NaNoWriMo use from what I understand, so there is a feature in the program where you can list your target goals--both per session and overall. I find this motivating in a way, but I can see why some people might feel it is annoying or distracting.

As with any program, there are some hiccups. You don't have a shortcut to your thesaurus (at least, in the Mac version. I haven't tried it on the PC) and you need to figure out how to create this shortcut on your own. 

Sometimes your preferences for one document will not translate to a newly created document. I've been having trouble with my dashes and my quotation marks staying consistent.

The PC version needs some work, but I haven't tried the updated program (it updated today) so I'm not sure if the issues were addressed. I can't figure out how to see page views with the PC version, either. And It won't remember spelling errors you choose to ignore.

Both versions have a crappy autocorrect feature. It chooses the most obscure words when you have a typo. For example, if I mispell occur as ocurr, it autocorrects to OCR. What? And common terms, such as USB, aren't part of the dictionary and will also autocorrect. But from what I understand you can turn this feature off and deal with the squiggly lines instead. 


As with any program, it is best to try the trial version before making your decision. But I like Scrivener and find it really helps me focus on my project. I own it for the Mac and will purchase it for the PC at the end of the month.


Steve's picture
Steve from Southwestern Chicagoland, IL November 7, 2011 - 11:52am

Scrivener's great--misskokamon covered the Pros better than I could--and totally worth the money if you're working on something big and complicated. If you're more of a short story writer, though, I think Scrivener is a bit overkill. I'm a big fan of iA Writer for that sort of thing.

iA Writer is dead simple. It's a plain text editor that syncs with Dropbox, and it has the best thing ever for someone that hates plain white pages--Focus Mode. Focus Mode blurs all but the current sentance, and moves the cursor on a blank document down to the middle of the view. It's such a simple thing, but it makes a huge difference in overcoming the inertia of starting a new project. It gets you started, then gets out of your way. I think the working name was Shitty First Draft.


Frederick's picture
Frederick from Southeast Connecticut is reading Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs By Chuck Klosterman November 7, 2011 - 11:52am

It's my first time participating in NaNo, I'm about 10,000 words in and this is starting to sound like a good switch...

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind November 7, 2011 - 2:00pm

iA Writer sounds interesting! I have Scrivener on all my writing machines (or machines where I may write, anyway) and I have my projects stored on Dropbox. I have to say that regardless of what program we write with, Dropbox is the best thing anyone could have. If something happens to our machine, our work is safe on the site. if we switch to a new machine (say from the desktop to a laptop in bed,) you can be sure your work is updated and waiting for you. Ah, Dropbox. It just works. <3

I will say I'm a crazy Scrivenerd. I pitch it to everyone. I rant and rave about how great it is. That and Dropbox have made my life so easy. Really, they're a writer's best friend.

I should add that another perk to Scrivener is the program compiles your manuscript in a proper format for submitting, if you feel compelled to do so. Your notes will not be included so long as your binder is properly organized. 

You can also compile it for eBook readers. I haven't tried it with Scrivener yet but I do like to put my work on the Kindle to review when I'm done with it, so that was a real plus.

I forgot the best part of Scrivener! Corkboard mode. We've all tried writing plot points on note cards--this one does it digitally. It's a great way to view your story flow.

Yes... I am a Scrivenerd, indeed.