Monday, April 22, 2013

Using Scrivener to Straighten Out Your Novel

(This one going up late today! I knew I should've written it and queued it ahead of leaving for the weekend, but I always think I'll have time to write a post in the morning. While I'm grading. And lesson-planning. And trying to run out the door.)

So, about a year ago, I decided to take NaNoWriMo up on their offer for 50% off the price of Scrivener.

And like many writers, I was smitten. 

Scrivener allows you to break apart a novel and see it in pieces; you can see each scene on its own, re-order them, summarize a scene on a notecard (that stays with the scene), keep track of your notes, keep track of your progress with revision, and much, much more. It took me about a week to get used to using it, but now I write everything that is longer than a page or two in it, including all my academic work.

Some of my favorite features:

  • Reordering scenes—you work on your novel scene by scene, and if you need to reorder them, you can do so just by a simple drag-and-drop. 
  • Bulletin board—by the same token, you can summarize each scene on an "index card" and view your whole novel scene-by-scene on a bulletin board (and drag-and-drop if you need to). 
  • Revision status—when I'm working on a revision, I can mark each scene as to its writing/revision status: to-do, needs-revising, revised, final. These are also all customizable, so you can create your own set of relevant revision tags. 
  • Side-by-side windows—you can bring up two parts of your novel side-by-side, or your novel and a reference piece, or anything else. Great for doing a ground-up rewrite of a scene, changing a scene's POV, or, in the case of the other writing I do, referring to an article while writing a paper. 
  • iPad app—this is a "coming soon" feature, but I'm delighted I'll be able to interface with my iPad when it drops! 

I've found Scrivener to be absolutely invaluable in the year I've used it, and I'm anxiously awaiting Scrivener 2.0 for Windows (mac users are lucky ducks who already have the 2.0 version!). It was more than worth the $20 I paid for it, and would be more than worth the $40 at full price. And best of all, if you'd like to try it out, they have one of the best trials in the universe: 30 days of actual use, not just 30 days. So if you use it one day per week, you can use it for 30 weeks before you have to purchase the full version. I purchased the full version after about 4 hours, but your mileage may vary. :)

Do you use special writing software? Which ones have you tried, and what do you prefer?


This month I'm participating in the A-Z blog challenge. My theme is "writer hacks," or 26 shortcuts you can do as a writer to get the most out of writing and the journey toward and through publication. Find out more about it at, and hop around to read the other cool blogs that are part of the challenge! 


  1. I'm also waiting anxiously for Scrivener 2.0 for Windows.
    I plan to recommend it for my authors at
    Thanks for the great post.
    Bob J.


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