I entered the National Novel Writing Month ( NaNoWriMo) for the first time in 2009 and that’s when I heard fellow participants speak of Scrivener. I had no idea what it meant. Some cursory research led me to understand that it was a kind of ” content generation tool” for writers. To be honest, I didn’t explore this any further for two reasons. I feared it would be too complex for me to use and too expensive for me to afford. I was then deeply engrossed in writing my debut novel, “It Can’t Be You” anyway and my focus was more on thinking through a plot, fleshing out characters and the like. I did all of this in the only way I knew, using Microsoft Word.As the years went by, I did use other software like YWriter and Dark Room to aid in my writing. Scrivener was still not on my radar. I wish it had been but there’s no point crying over spilt milk as the old adage goes. I didn’t and continued to struggle with Word. The biggest difficulty I found in Word was in editing. Some of the problems I faced were:
- Figuring out whether some parts had been repeated. This is a nightmare if your novel is 80,000 + words in length. You suspect you have come across a particular passage more than once but are not sure where. It’s hell to find out where you goofed. It’s worse when you realize it has happened on multiple occasions in the course of editing.
- Moving chunks of material from one place to another. If I felt a few paragraphs were more appropriate in Page 23 rather than in their present location at Page 123, I had to do some very careful “cutting and pasting.” If I got this wrong, it resulted in frustrating re-work.
- It was unwieldy to work with one huge document or even a series of documents which had your bits of research, material for characters, thoughts and stray ideas which needed more exploring and the like.
An article by Joanna Penn got me started on Scrivener recently. I am most grateful to her for this prompt. She described the features so clearly and explained the many advantages of using it so well that I simply had to give it my full attention. Besides, I had completed NaNoWriMo for the 5th year in succession, had three books published and was more aware of the pitfalls that face every writer. I was delighted to find that “winners” of NaNoWriMo qualified for a substantial discount on the price of the Scrivener. I lost no time in registering for this and here we are. I have Scrivener, at last!
You now find me in the happy, but sometimes very frustrating, situation of understanding how it works and more importantly how it meets my specific needs as a writer. It’s been a couple of weeks now and I do recognise that Scrivener holds enormous promise. I have done a lot of reading on it and I hope to share my experiences as I learn some more. So much for starters!