Word processors have been around for a long time (heck, I even helped design one back in my misspent youth), and most are aimed either at that shadowy, ill-defined person, the “general user” (who apparently likes to create party invitations and lost-pet flyers) or at that person’s equally nebulous cousin, the “business user” (who was historically motivated by the muse of memos). Not so with Literature & Latte’s award-winning Scrivener. Variously described as a “content-generation tool” or a “writer’s studio,” Scrivener is designed by writers for writers.
Now this powerful tool for the pixel-stained wretches among us who struggle to set down our daily words has a friendly and informative guidebook: the $10 “Take Control of Scrivener 2,” by Kirk McElhearn. In the 105-page ebook, Kirk addresses the process of conceiving and constructing a long-form writing project — a novel, dissertation, screenplay, or non-fiction book — and the ways in which Scrivener supports and facilitates that process.
In “Take Control of Scrivener 2,” Kirk describes how to set up a writing project using one of Scrivener’s project templates. He shows how the program’s Research folder can accommodate all the notes, text clippings, pictures, Web pages, PDFs, and other materials that support almost every book. He explains how these materials can be retrieved, filtered, viewed, and used as the writer proceeds. He explores Scrivener’s built-in planning tools, including the flexible Corkboard and the Outliner, as well as the character and setting folders and files that writers can create, arrange, and consult as they work. He describes how all of these materials that writers both assemble and create can be moved around, reviewed, and revised in Scrivener’s Binder, the structure that holds the whole writing project together.
And, of course, Kirk demonstrates the features of Scrivener that contribute to an efficient and effective writing experience: the full-screen view, the typewriter mode, the split-editor view, and the useful Scrivenings view with which a writer can view and edit disparate parts of a long, complex work in a single flowing text. He explains how writers can create daily production targets by character, word, or page, and he shows how they can experiment with radical revisions and then roll back to a saved snapshot, or compare two or more versions of a draft. He includes a guide to compiling all the pieces of the work into a final document in any of a number of popular file formats, including Word’s document format, PDF, HTML, and even EPUB and Mobipocket ebook formats.
Anyone who has ever undertaken a novel or other book-length project knows how hard it is to pull it all together, especially when wrestling with software designed for writing memos, not memoirs. Scrivener, however, has been designed to assist and not impede the writer’s journey. With Scrivener on board, and with “Take Control of Scrivener 2” in hand, any author, whether aspiring or already acclaimed, will be well-equipped for the next creative voyage.