- Corkboard - In Scrivener, every document is attached to a virtual index card onto which you can jot a synopsis; moving the cards on Scriveners corkboard rearranges their associated text in your draft.
- Outliner - View and edit the synopses and meta-data of your documents in Scriveners powerful outliner. Organise your ideas using as many or few levels as you want and drag and drop to restructure your work.
- Scrivenings - Scriveners innovative Scrivenings mode allows you to move smoothly between editing your document one piece at a time or together as a whole.
- Statistics and Targets - A live word and character count of the current section is always in view at the bottom of the screen, and you can set a word or character count target for each section.
- Full-Screen - Because sometimes you want to blank out the rest of the world while you write - or at least the rest of the screen. One click in Scriveners toolbar and you can leave the rest of your desktop behind and write distraction free.
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Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.
Writing a novel, research paper, script or any long-form text involves more than hammering away at the keys until you’re done. Collecting research, ordering fragmented ideas, shuffling index cards in search of that elusive structure—most writing software is fired up only after much of the hard work is over. Enter Scrivener: a word processor and project management tool that stays with you from that first, unformed idea all the way through to the final draft. Outline and structure your ideas, take notes, view research alongside your writing and compose the constituent pieces of your text in isolation or in context. Scrivener won't tell you how to write - it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application.
Scrivener puts everything you need for structuring, writing and editing long documents at your fingertips. On the left of the window, the “binder” allows you to navigate between the different parts of your manuscript, your notes, and research materials, with ease. Break your text into pieces as small or large as you want - so you can forget wrestling with one long document. Restructuring your draft is as simple as drag and drop. Select a single document to edit a section of your manuscript in isolation, or use “Scrivenings” mode to work on multiple sections as though they were one: Scrivener makes it easy to switch between focussing on the details and stepping back to get a wider view of your composition.
- Scrivener requires Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8 (32 or 64 bit) with DirectX.
- 1GB RAM - 1ghz processor - 100mb disk space - 1024 x 768 screen
- Internet connection (required for a one-time activation process, prior to registration).
Platform: PC Download
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My wife and I are both writing novels in Scrivener. The program is just fantastic. Everything you need to organize, research and write a novel is included in the functionality of the program and doing so gets all your materials, ideas, outlines, text, etc., in one place. I could spend hours describing the cool features in Scrivener which boost creativity and productivity. The program is simply amazing, and the value per dollar for this relatively inexpensive program is off the rails.
The thing to understand about Scrivener is that it's a chunk-based writing system. It's for people who write in chunks, or scenes, which is, actually, most people. Unlike a linear program such as Microsoft Word, in which you start typing and then keep going until you get to the end of the work, in Scrivener, you can work on little (or big) chunks of stuff, separately. There are several key advantages of this approach. You can work on stuff in any order - if you have a cool idea for a chapter that isn't coming up for 300 more pages, you can just go work on it while the idea's fresh, and then it'll just sit in its spot, wherever you have it placed in your outline. It also allows you to move stuff around easily. For instance, if you've written 20 scenes, and decide that scene 12 should really be the first scene, you can just drag it to the beginning. You can combine multiple scenes into one, or split a scene up into multiple scenes and then move them around. So, it's kind of a modular approach to writing a long document. Scrivener has an absolutely amazing "corkboard" mode, where each scene gets pinned to a virtual index card, which can then be labeled (with a scene description, a title, etc.). In corkboard mode, you can move the index cards around at will - and the text pinned to the cards moves around with them. In this way, you can quickly reorganize and restructure entire chapters or the whole book from a high-level outlining view; then, at any time, you can click on an index card and dive back into the scene's text. It's very flexible, fast, and helpful.
I am not one of the "Scrivener OR Word" crowd -- people who feel strongly that one or the other is better. I like to use both programs together. Scrivener is my master folder for a book project. All of my notes, research documents, web pages, index cards in the outline, and written text are stored in Scrivener. However, sometimes I take an individual scene and work on it in Word. A Word document can be easily saved and edited in Dropbox, enabling easy portability for scene-development across multiple computers. When done with the scene in Word, I drag the text into Scrivener. Personally, I like Word a lot; its word processor is better than Scrivener's and it has plenty of features and refinements which reflect its twenty years of dominance in its category. What it doesn't have is the outlining tools and chunk-based paradigm of Scrivener, which I consider indispensable. I see no reason to choose between the two; they both do what they do extremely well. In addition to individual scene development, I like to use Word to format final output. Scrivener does not offer the same refined control over print output as Word does (not yet, anyway). Basically, when I have to print something, I output from Scrivener to a Word document, open it up in Word, and play around with the formatting until it has the look I want (pagination, headers and footers, etc.).
Scrivener is a very unique writing tool which is intuitively and cleverly organized around how the creative writing process actually works for most people -- in a non-linear, non-sequential manner, with more flexibility than the traditional word processor paradigm. I highly recommend checking it out if you are working on a long writing project.
UPDATE August 10, 2012: I recently decided that it would be better to use Scrivener for organizing, outlining and writing, but to have another tool with better "clipping" functionality for web-based research. After much evaluation of different tools and hand-wringing, I ended up going with Evernote (premium--the paid version, $45 per year). These two programs together - Scrivener and Evernote - are truly the BOMB for research-based writing. Highly recommend looking into these two tools together as a package if you're doing heavy research-based writing.
First item of note: You can download Scrivener and try it for yourself for free for 30 days of **actual use**. In other words, if you use it every day it lasts 30 days; if you use it only two days a week, it lasts fifteen weeks. Before the trial expires, you can export all of your work or buy a licence to continue using Scrivener. Just google "Scrivener Free Trial" and you can get it straight from Literature and Latte's homepage. I would highly recommend taking advantage of this, since you can take your time and go through their very extensive and thorough walkthrough of the software and its features (it took hours to go through), as well as start your own project to see if you like how it is organised. It's what convinced me to buy it.
The program is fantastic. Everything you need to organize and write a novel is included in the functionality of the program. You can keep all of your material (outlines, research, websites, images, ideas, etc.) in one place. It's sort of like OneNote on steroids and exclusively designed for the novelist. There are a blindingly vast amount of features in this program, so I won't even try to describe them all here, but you can learn about them in your free trial.
The software is designed for you to work in chunks - scenes, acts, chapters, whatever you want. For me personally, I have my novel separated out in "Acts" and major events, with scenes and chapters underneath. You can view individual scenes/chapters/whatever or look at your novel as a whole. You can start anywhere you want, write a scene at the end and work your way to the beginning, etc. You can also rearrange these scenes and chapters in any order you want easily if you decide you don't like where they are - it's drag-and-drop.
My favorite features:
Corkboard - Every document is attached to a virtual index card onto which you can jot a synopsis. Moving the cards on Scrivener’s corkboard rearranges their associated text in your draft. This is excellent when you need to rearrange scenes or plot pieces or chapters or whatever.
Statistics and Targets - A live word and character count of the current section is always in view at the bottom of the screen, and you can set a word or character count target for each section.
Full-Screen - One click in Scrivener’s toolbar and your document goes full screen so you can leave the rest of your desktop behind and write distraction free. This is especially great for helping you keep your hands off of the internet.
Templates - You can create a character, setting, etc template and each time you want to create a new character sheet you just create from your template.
Tags, colors, and icons - You can tag your work or color coordinate it. I use this for separating out my POV character scenes.
Custom Search - You can save a custom search that will automatically update as you write more. This is great for saving a search for that one word/phrase/etc that you repeat over and over again and want to seek-and-destroy.
You can save your Scrivener to DropBox so that you can access your project from any computer you have Scrivener and DropBox on.
If you have access to DropBox but not Scrivener somewhere (i.e. work or your sister's house) you can always save what you're working on into another format, such as MS Word. I personally use Word to save off chapters because I like their editing features better, and I can submit chapters to my writer's group for them to redline with their critiques. I can also open Word documents on my iPad or mobile phone or whatever else and edit them at my mom's house or randomly in my car at the movies.
Additionally, EverNote is a great platform for you to scribble down ideas and research wherever you are (including your mobile phone or tablet) to transfer to your Scrivener later.
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