Writing with Scrivener by Chris Longmuir
|Scrivener for Windows or Mac
In March of this year, I wrote a post for Authors Electric called Discovering Scrivener, and in order to refresh your memory, if you click here, you can read it again.
When I started using this software program, I was in the middle of writing Missing Believed Dead, and I did wonder what effect it would have on the finished book. I’m a pantster, you see, not a plotter. I usually start with a scene and a character, then I play the what if game to see where the story goes. So, much of what I write is as big a surprise to me as it is to the reader. I like to think that if I don’t know whodunnit until I’m nearly at the end of the book, then it will be all the more difficult for the reader to guess.
Anyway my type of writing doesn’t lend itself easily to organisational tools and software, which is exactly what Scrivener is, and I worried that the finished book might be stilted rather than readable. I needn’t have worried because the book turned out just fine, and some readers think it is the best book I’ve written to date. Now, that may be because I’m a more experienced writer than I was way back in the beginning. But don’t forget my first published book, Dead Wood, won the Dundee International Book Prize, so I guess that validated it as a damned good book. I reckon that the success for Missing Believed Dead, may have been due to more experience, or it may have had something to do with the way I wrote it, using Scrivener. Now, I can’t categorically say Scrivener improved my writing, but it certainly didn’t do it any harm.
What I liked most about Scrivener was the ability it gave me to organise my writing. I could write scenes out of sequence and stick them in the ‘Unplaced Scenes’ folder which I had added to the Binder. I could move my scenes about without cutting and pasting. I could make collections of various scenes from my different viewpoint characters, without affecting their place in the manuscript. I could also have my research open beside the scene I was writing, by using the split screen function, so there was no hopping backwards and forwards between different windows while I was working.
|Using the split screen
What I didn’t like was the default Courier font in the word processing section, and initially I converted that to Times New Roman for every scene I wrote. However, this wasn’t actually necessary, because when it came time to export the manuscript – using the ‘Compile’ function – I could compile and export it in my own choice of font, irrespective of what font was used in Scrivener.
It is possible to use the compile function to export your manuscript as an ebook or a PDF document, but that would entail polishing your manuscript in Scrivener, which I didn’t do. I used the software to produce a first draft, although it was quite a complete first draft, and then did the polishing in Word.
So, what did I think of Scrivener? Well, I’ve given it the thumbs up, and I’ll definitely be using it from now on.
Oh, and if you want to check out Missing Believed Dead, the novel I wrote using Scrivener, you can find it at:-