Thursday, June 5, 2014

Scrivener groupie

My name is Carolyne Aarsen and I am disorganized. Very disorganized. In fact I came to the computer right now to print off some old phone bills because I'm doing bookwork I should have done over a month ago and when got here I remembered I had to do this blog post. So here I sit, typing when I should be printing and entering and balancing. My desk is a mishmash of notes and reminders and quotes that I like. I've got a wedding invitation I have to reply to, a book of passwords I have to update, my cameras that I have to load the pictures from onto my computer. Okay, I'm getting dizzy just writing this. Trouble is my writing has often been the same way. Pictures of characters would litter my computer's desktop along with clips of scenery. When I was working on a manuscript I would have a dictionary open in one corner, a stack of other documents holding pertinent information like my synopsis, character sketches, writing examples, notes for this particular story, story lines for the other stories if it was an ongoing series and a host of other related research documents. It was a disaster. I managed but always with an element of panic in the background.

Then I discovered Scrivener. It took a few courses and a few tries but this program became my lifesaver. All those bits and pieces of information are now right at my fingertips without leaving the program. Here's a screen capture of my most recent project - the third in a new series of books that will come out in 2015.

I have a closer view, in the picture below of the left side of the screen. All along this part of the program are all the chapters from my current book listed in order. Above those, are all the other books in the series, collapsed down. If I want to access them I just have to click the triangle beside it and they all show up like the manuscript I have now. Right now I'm on the second scene in Chapter Seven of the third book, it's highlighted in grey. I can get to any of the other scenes with a click of the mouse. 
On the opposite side of the manuscript, the yellow side I can make notes to myself for each scene that don't go into the manuscript. I can set up different colours for different points of view, I can access my research, my character sketches complete with photographs, my synopsis, the timeline for all the books or for this particular book all within Scrivener. I can make a snapshot of my work and, if I make a lot of changes and want to revert back to what I had, all I have to do is find the snapshot I made and all the work is right there, just as it was. I can add pictures of my characters and get a meter showing that tells me how far I am on my goal for the day and my total manuscript goal. I can do a word search for frequently used words. (my characters sigh a lot, and frown apparently) And I can open a window that will give me name suggestions for my characters. 

All this is only scratching the surface of what this program can do. Scrivenr has saved my bacon many a time with this new series. I love it and can't say enough good about it. And you don't need to use it just for writing novels. It also works well for papers and any type of writing that requires access to multiple files. When I'm done, I choose which documents I want to export, hit compile and all my files are now exported to a Word Document for me to finish editing and send off to my editor.

So if you'e the disorganized type, you might want to give it a try. There are numerous courses out there for Scrivener. The one I took was from Gwen Hernandez - here's a link to her next course -

I get nothing for doing this. And neither do the Craftie Ladies. I just want to share my enthusiasm for a program that has made such a difference for me in my writing. Has taken away a lot of frustration and saved me acres of time in terms of hunting for stuff that I Knew I Had Somewhere. You can try it for free or you can buy it and dive in. Either way, consider it. You'll be glad you did. 

And now, I have to go look for a phone bill so I can finish ...... um.....what was I doing again?


  1. Thanks for the heads up, Carolyn.

  2. I have Scrivener on my desktop Mac, and while I love how organized it keeps everything, I started running into problems, when I'd send scenes to my crit partners. I'd have to export them or copy and paste them into a word doc to send and then go through the edits and paste them back in, but in the meantime I may have made changes in that scene in scrivener and it was awful trying to make sure I didn't lose them.

    If not for that, and the fact that I'd have to buy a second copy in PC version to work on my laptop, I'd be using the program all the time. My desk is like you describe, although I do find a think better on paper. :)

    1. I used to do more pen and paper work but have switched to all computer now. As for sending scenes to crit partners-I have the same thing when I send in my proposal. I often export it and then edit it in Pages, export to Word and then send it on. But now I just copy and paste the edited chapters back into Scrivener, so it's all up to date. What I also love about Scrivener is that I can impot documents from a program I use a lot for outlining on my iPad called Index Cards.

  3. Wow, I love this! I took Gwen's class and loved it, but I'll admit my project doesn't look anywhere close to being as slick as yours. I think I need more lessons!

  4. Hey, Danica, I really forced myself to use this thing. Made myself learn how to apply it because I was getting soooo confused trying to find my other stuff. I went through each of her lessons and did the homework - I think that helped. But it has really been a lifesaver! In fact, just yesterday I had a scene in my head that I really wanted to write - but it wasn't coming up for a bunch of chapter yet. Normally I would have kept on writing because it's too much of a hassle to try to find it again, but I just started a new file and started writing. It's waiting to be put in order and I can access it any time. I really, really like this program.

  5. Carolyne (I remembered the "e"!) -- Scrivener is an ADD-er's dream.

    I use the Windows version and don't see an option for the icons you used next to your file names. Are you working from a Mac?

    Thanks for sharing your process.


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