Scrivener for Windows: Let’s Talk
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you probably already know that–last week–I downloaded the Beta version of Scrivener for Windows. I was debating whether to get it or wait for the complete version next year, but I’d finished that first draft, and I was kind of moping around in the transition stage (i.e. not moving OUT of the transition stage), and–honestly–I needed a new toy. And there was Literature & Latte just holding out this lovely, glittery, ribbon-wrapped present for me…
Anyway, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what I’ve done with Scrivener so far, and any glitches and/or tricks I’ve found. If you’re playing with this new version (or in love with the old stuff) and want to share problems or solutions or just all-out-adoring-love, please drop them into the comments. Everyone should benefit! 🙂
Here’s what I’ve done so far:
- Imported a lot of the PDFs on my computer into the research file. These include things as small as a photograph of 1913 hairstyles to a pretty big book–a dictionary of dry goods terms–published in 1912. The importing went seamlessly. So far, viewing and reading the PDFs seems pretty slow, but it’s not exactly speedy outside of Scrivener. I haven’t really spent any time on this, so I can’t say for sure whether I’ll use Scrivener as a reading tool for this or not. It is nice to have them all there to just remind myself easily what I’ve got.
- I set up a Notes folder with individual “texts” (files that you can view as a document or a corkboard index card) for different categories. Mostly, these are texts for each characters–things I’ve thought about while I was writing the first draft and since I finished. I’ve also got a text in there for random plot notes that aren’t yet attached to a scene.
- I set up my Scenes folder and started throwing in ideas. I’ve been re-reading James Scott Bell’sPlot & Structure, and putting in ideas that he makes me think of–which, honestly, happens every time I read this book, so if you don’t have it yet, go get it. I’ve got scene texts for most of Act I, up to that first doorway of no-return. No, I’m not sure if it’s no-return enough yet, but that’s okay. Because it’s so easy to change things.
Really, I’m surprised that I feel this way about Scrivener. I’ve used Word for years, and–you know–other the standard stupid stuff it doesn’t to–I’m happy with it. I’ve got a pretty organized file structure that I use in Explorer–very similar, actually, to what Scrivener has set up for me in their software. But here’s the thing–with Scrivener, I don’t have to switch back and forth between Word and Explorer to work/see the organization.
I know…how lazy can someone be? One click, maybe two, to get a file or make a change, and now I’m whining about that being too much work. But somehow, it feels like more than that. It really does feel, so far, like Scrivener has everything I need, right there, all in one spot. And as I plot and organize and brainstorm, not having to click out of the application seems to keep my brain more focused, more still in touch with the thoughts I’m having and hope to have soon.
Now…keep in mind I haven’t tried to write a scene yet. I’ve got lots of notes, many paragraphs and bulleted-lists long, but I haven’t started to actually create any new stuff. I know I’ll give this a try, writing scenes here, and my gut is I’m going to like it, but you’ll probably get another update when I get there.
And the software isn’t perfect yet. I’ve talked back and forth with a few other writers, and some of them have run into more problems than I did. My download and install when smooth as silk, and (I should not be saying this out loud), the software hasn’t crashed yet. I know, for some people, it was crashing and certain features were flat-out not working. I think some of these people tried a redownload and install, which might have helped–maybe they’ll chime in here and let people know if that was a good trick.
Scrivener doesn’t always remember my font/style changes. I haven’t figured out yet if this is a bug, or just that I’m not doing something consistently. Every now and then I just type too fast for it, and I have to check that there isn’t a crash. So far, no crashes; it’s just that I can’t type anything else until the software/screen catches up. I’m really hoping that, when the final version comes out, this isn’t a problem. That could be a true obstacle toward writing scenes within Scrivener. I’m still learning where I have to click within the file structure to show all the cards I want together on the corkboard, but that’s just a learning curve.
And, oh, that corkboard! It’s like the people at Scrivener knew the one thing I needed from them to get all my work into the computer, where I’m most happy to have it. I’ve always stumbled when it came to using real index cards or getting notes up on my whiteboard. The cards/whiteboard are never big enough to hold all the notes, and I’ve never been any good at writing one line for a scene and then remembering all the layers/ramifications that went went with that line. Not to mention, I cannot read my own writing quickly and easily, especially not in the notes that come flying out when I’m brainstorming.
Now I can look at the one-liner on a card and know that everything else I’ve thought about it is there, one layer down. I can delete things that aren’t working and add new material, without covering a real index cards in scratchouts and tiny words scribbled into tiny spaces. I can put the corkboard on Full-Screen and see 10-12 cards/scenes/ideas at once.
The corkboard makes me very happy.
What about you? Have you downloaded Scrivener for Windows yet? Have you been using the Mac version for years? Got any tips/thoughts to share with the rest of us? We’d love to hear!
Happy Monday and Happy Writing.