I managed to get through Camp Nanowrimo last month, for which I pledged thirty hours of editing on Odd Duck.

While I didn’t get an entire edited manuscript out of it, I did get nine solid chapters, a couple of new friends, and some Winner Goodies, including a nice discount price on a piece of writing software I’ve been eyeing.


Scrivener puts everything I use to write—a word processing program, a file manager, multi-document views, sidebar comments, word searches, images etc.—conveniently on one screen, and throws in my magnetic wall-board and beloved 3×5 cards as well.

It offers manuscript stats, too—including word usages, for those of us with small repetition problems—as well as writing targets, if you want them.

I spent the weekend importing my chapter files, inputting information on my characters and settings, and organizing my corkboards. Changing arrangements is often as easy as dragging-and-dropping and there are several ways to arrange and tag items in the “binder” (aka, the file manager on the left side), either by icon or color or both.

Scrivener Characters

I’m not sure if the Compile or Formatting features will work for me, yet—I’ll report on those when the time comes—but by the time I’m finished, I’ll have a wonderful Book Bible for Odd Duck.  That’s worth the full licensing fee, right there.

One of the best features so far is the split screen.  While I was getting screenshots for this post, I ended up doing a bit of spontaneous editing between two documents—couldn’t help myself.

Scrivener Editing

The lock screen is also pretty handy, I won’t lie—the split screens got a little . . . flippy . . . before I learned to lock the main one down.  That’s all on me, though, and clearly, Scrivener was prepared for my bad eyesight and subsequent bouts of spasmodic clicking.

On sound advice from a friend (hi, Christina!),  I installed Dropbox on my desk computer and my laptop this morning, so I can easily write at my usual haunts without worrying about synching versions or, heaven forfend, copying over the wrong $#!&% one, as I have been known to do.

Or forgetting/washing/misplacing my flash drive.

The only trouble I’m having at the moment is that Scrivener, logically enough, doesn’t understand the common Microsoft commands (undo, redo, spelling, thesaurus, replace, em-dashes, etc.) I’ve hardwired into my brain.  But as soon as I figure out how to customize the toolbar for those, I’m golden.

I’m sure there will be a few glitches along the way, but so far, so good.  Basically, I’ve gone from this:


To this:

Scrivener CorkboardAnd that’s a definite improvement.


12 thoughts on “Scrivening

  1. I totally love Scrivener. I have been using it for several years, and I can’t think of a word processing program for the long-form novel I would use other than Scrivener.

    • Everyone who loves Scrivener seems to really, REALLY love it. That helped convince me to try it out.

      I have heard from others who think the bells and whistles get in the way of Real Storytelling. Of course, these tend to be the same people who think the literary world packed itself into a handbasket when it abandoned typewriters for word processors.

      My personal opinion about that depends on how hinky my WiFi is acting. 🙂

  2. I adore Scrivener even if it doesn’t know the difference between a hyphen and an em dash. Compile is problematic, but if you pay enough attention to the formatting it won’t turn your poetry manuscript into a 13-pt font nightmare (sob).

    • I’m not having trouble with my em-dashes, but I truly dislike the Twister-like keyboard command for spellcheck. 😛

      If worse comes to worst, I’ll copy the chapters and paste ’em into Word again. Or something.

    • I would have thought the OCD in you would be giving me a standing ovation, Mike. 😀

      I’m not giving up my whiteboard, either. I’m just recording some of it digitally.

  3. Thanks for such a helpful post, Sarah. This is really useful to see how Scrivener is working for you. I’ve been on the fence about whether to switch over. I’m glad it’s productive for you!

  4. Meh. I have Scrivener and use it sometimes, but I’ll never give up my index cards and notebook. Sometimes I just want to touch something that isn’t a keyboard, you know?

    • I do know! I’m still keeping my notebooks and cards—I’m an inveterate scribbler and always will be—but when I do need a word processor, Scrivener may keep me a bit more organized than Word did. 🙂

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