Scrivener

Scrivener's new logo

I’ve shared some tips and a masterlist for prospective writers (there’s a second masterlist here) and I’ve just realized that I never explained what Scrivener is, thinking that everyone would know better than me. But I believe that having a writing blog is all about sharing how you understand and use things because every writer is unique and your way might resonate with someone out there. So here I am, about to tell you some things you should know about Scrivener.

First, you should know I use Scrivener for Windows, so I’ve been a Scrivener 1 user for years, and I’ve recently upgraded to Scrivener 3. Good news, everyone: if you own a license for Scrivener 1 or Scrivener 2 (only available for Mac), you’ll get an awesome discount for Scrivener 3. You just need to download the free trial and then click on “Upgrade from an older version” when this window pops up:

Screenshot of the Scrivener pop-up window where they prompt you to Enter your License, buy a new license or continue with the trial version.

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know Scrivener: yes, you can download a trial version here. The trial is the actual program, no limitations until the trial period ends. Moreover, the trial period is 30 days, but they don’t have to be consecutive, so you might be able to enjoy it for 30 weeks if you just use it once per week. If you want to see whether Scrivener would be good for you, I encourage you to use the trial version, because it’s very difficult to know unless you’ve familiarized yourself with the program and used it for a while. I’ve been a user for years and have just decided to take advantage of some advanced features I’d been ignoring until now, so you can definitely do that too.

Scrivener can be a bit overwhelming at first, but they have a very nice tutorial, and you can choose whether you want to learn only the basics. I’ve completed the whole tutorial at least three times because I keep forgetting stuff, but it’s not necessary. Scrivener is very user-friendly, so you can just choose a template for your new project and start writing. For me, the best approach would be to try different things and find out what you want to keep, make a template (I’m working on that at the moment), and use it on all of your projects from that point on.

But why do I use Scrivener? Well, I first bought it because I needed a program that would save automatically, create backups, and allow me to have everything (research, images, writing) related to one project (my thesis) in one place. Basically, I use it because I’m forgetful and scatterbrained. It’s also incredibly easy to compare information with the split screen, and you can now have over 5 files open at the same time if you use the new Copyholder and Quick Reference functions:

A screenshot of five files open on the same Scrivener project by splitting the editing window in two, using copyholders for both files, then a Quick Reference on a floating window.

Now that I’m using Scrivener for my personal projects, I find myself appreciating its organizing features more and more: the corkboard, the labels, the targets, the metadata… And these have improved in the new Scrivener 3, where now there’s a freeform corkboard, a label thread, section types, a revision mode, bookmarks, a daily target calculator (useful when you have a deadline), etc. Scrivener 3 even has themes and a name generator! But, even before I started using any of those features, I liked Scrivener because it was very easy to organize the project into different folders and documents, so I could have a folder for the Manuscript, one for the Characters, one for the Settings and another for the Research. The text could be split into different documents for each chapter or scene, and they could be compared or swapped around easily.

A screenshot of the Scrivener Tutorial, showing the different folders and documents on the left sidebar.

All in all, Scrivener is a very versatile tool, and not expensive at all if you take into account that you’re buying a license. I’ve been using my first license for almost 10 years on 8 different computers bought in 3 different countries, customer support has been super fast the only time I’ve needed them, and they don’t force you to upgrade if you don’t want to. But I still encourage you to try it out before you buy it, because it’s not a tool for everyone. By the way, November is a good month to try it out because sometimes they have special offers during NaNoWriMo.

I don’t want to make this unnecessarily long, because you already have the tutorial and the official website explaining all the different features, but now you can use the comments section if you need anything. Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.

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