Tool: Scrivener

Today’s post is a sort of shout out to software I use for writing. Though you wouldn’t believe it from looking at my desktop, I’m actually pretty big on organization. My music library would be utterly unnavigable if I weren’t an organization freak, and the same can easily be said for the mass of stories – from not even started to complete – I keep on file. For that, I have to thank Scrivener, the single most useful writing tool I’ve used to date. Oh know there are other bits of software that are similar to this (like yWriter), but Scrivener has been the best for me. Here’s why.

1) Intuitive Organization

Simple and straight-forward folder organization, within the project file. No more half-dozen actual folders and shortcuts from my desktop or writing directory. I suppose this isn’t particularly unique to Scrivener, but I found the layout and customization to be intuitive.

It’s a bit intimidating at first, but most powerful tools usually are. The tutorial helps quite a bit with getting things started.

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Note each chapter has its own file. The black background and green text is my own design choice, as I find those colors easier on my eyes; you can customize the colors unlike Word.

2) Screenshots and Artwork

Speaking of screenshots, uploading images directly into your .scriv file is very easy. One can do this in Word and most other word processors, to be sure, but having separate, easily accessible files/folders dedicated simply to characters, landscapes, plot settings, locations – anything – and then dropping a photo in there for reference – now that’s cool.

Whether your own hand-drawn character sketches or some images Googled-up (after typing in some search keyword that the NSA would have a fun time trying to understand why), it’s nice to have it all wrapped together in a single project file.

 

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I mostly do pics for character “mug shots,” but sometimes toss in imagery for specific events like landscapes.

 

3) Music Notes

Some of you may recall the importance I place on sound and my use of music notes. It’s nothing special to insert a hyperlink into a document or blog post that will lead to another page – in fact this is possible in Scrivener, as are footnotes and mouse-over comments and the like, but copying an mp3 from on file will actually make a nice little hyperlink shortcut of its own. I use this for character themes, mood setting for locations, and even plot/setting events.

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Clicking on the mp3 hyperlink will simply open the file with whatever media playing software you’ve got going. (I prefer foobar2000, for those who care, as it’s light and effective, though MediaMonkey is pretty good if you’ve got larger libraries.) A small feature that may only apply to some writers I imagine, but for yours truly, it was awesome.

I have used yWriter5, Microsoft Word, Write Monkey, Write or Die!, and a handful of other obscure ones whose names I cannot remember, but srsly, Scrivener has been a great experience. I’ve been using it for over a year and the features I mentioned are merely things that I found fun and useful – there are tons of things I simply skipped over or haven’t learned yet. But hey, with at 30-day trial, and a 30-minute tutorial, anyone can learn.

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