REVIEW Scrivener

Laura Clay reviews the writing software Scrivener.

Scrivener, available for Mac and Windows, is a writing tool that's a great alternative to Word for works-in-progress. I started using it back in 2014 and now I don't know what I'd do without it.

The interface is a little intimidating at first, but once you get to grips with it, you'll find it's much easier than jumping back and forth in a giant Word document. Chapters can be organised, colour-coded and labelled however you like, and you can even view/edit one character's arc by clicking on their chapters, which is presented as if it's one continuous document – something Word can't do! 

Scrivener corkboard photo by Chris Lott on Flickr

There's even a virtual corkboard where you can make notes on scenes, character/setting sheets, and you have the option to import your research (whether it's a webpage, image, document, or even a video). You can view this in one half of a split-screen setup, which I find incredibly useful. If you rely on Track Changes, Scrivener may not work for you, as it doesn't yet have this feature. However, it will allow Word-style commenting, and taking snapshots of chapters, which you can roll back to if you decide you liked the original draft after all.

When your novel's finished, Scrivener lets you export in many formats, from .doc and PDF to .epub and .mobi (with an Amazon plugin). And – most importantly – it will save backups to any location, including cloud storage like Dropbox and OneDrive.

There's a generous 30-day trial and a comprehensive (if dry) tutorial, plus there are often discounts if you 'win' NaNoWriMo/Camp NaNoWriMo, so I recommend giving it a go. And if you get stuck, there's lots of help out there, so don't be afraid to ask the internet or your fellow users.


By Laura Clay

1 comment:

  1. Really useful Laura, thank you! I wonder if you can email yourself a copy of your MS created in Scrivener as a backup as you can with a Word doc? This form of backup makes me feel safe, I did read about someone losing their entire MS while using Scrivener recently, this made me a bit nervous.


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