Stick Figures

To Scrivener or Not to Scrivener?

imageWhat are your thoughts on this software?  I’d love to hear them along with any advice you can offer!

I just started using Scrivener because getting organized wasn’t a problem–it was maintaining organization once I started changing things in my manuscript.

I am a plotter who turns into a pantser about half way through my first draft.  This is fine.  In fact, I know a lot of writers who think a mix of plotting and pantsing is the bee’s knees.  What’s not fine is failing to go back and change my supporting documents.  I typically have notes across several notebooks, index cards, Word documents, and on stray bits of paper I reach for blindly in a writing haze.  If I made changes to the plot or characters, there would be no way I could find those original documents.  I was trying to hold it all in my head.

I’m doing my best here not to sound like a commercial for Scrivener, so I’ll keep it brief.  The thing does what it’s meant to do–help me organize and stay that way. I won’t lose characters halfway through the book by confusing their major goal or struggle to invent new reasons for characters to complete actions that don’t make sense after changing X, Y, and Z.  Well…at least I won’t do this while writing the actual scenes.  The idea is to revise plot cards, characters sheets, etc. so that I can get a handle again on the big picture and tighten every screw.

How does that sound?  Any part plotters, part pantsers out there who feel my pain?  What organizational tools do you use to keep on track?

Michelle Joyce Bond


21 thoughts on “To Scrivener or Not to Scrivener?

  1. Since you follow my blog you now how I feel about Scrivener. For a truly huge novel there’s nothing better, and I’ve started using it for article writing as well. But when it comes to organization, there’s nothing better. I also use Aeon Timeline to push things along.

      1. I’ve done a couple of posts on using it. For time lining there’s little better.

  2. I have a spreadsheet that gives my character’s names, nicknames, species, significant life events, and so on. I tried Scrivner for the free trial, but I ended up not using most of it, and the word processor portion did not impress me.

  3. I love Scrivener. I like how I can tag various scenes–for example, whose POV the scene is from, its setting, etc. And the snapshot feature is great when you’re working from one draft to the next. If you change something and decide you liked it better how you had it before, you can just pull up the snapshot of the previous draft and copy and paste it back to how it was.

    1. I did like the idea of the snapshot feature when I was going through the tutorial. Right now, the best I can do is a zillion documents saved with changing dates in the title…and hopefully I can remember which one had the text I wanted to revert to.

  4. I’m one of those who keeps everything in his head. The only notes I have are the scenes I write in the margin of the manuscript and a few other notes reminding me of what I should improve on–like adding plot elements, character and street names, etc. But much of it, as I said, I keep it all straight in my head. It becomes easier after the third draft because then I remember the location of specific scenes, dialog and settings.

  5. I write the opposite from you, a panster first, then, when details become overwhelming, I use the index cards to complete a fish bones skeleton for each chapter so I don’t forget to include important details in tying up loose ends. Character profiles are lots of fun on the corkboard with pics on the cards. I love my Scrivener and know my writing shows improved organization since I started using it. In deliberately writing smaller chapters for my genre, the target feature comes in handy both in the editor and outliner. I still struggle with importing web articles and do better to just leave tabs open in Chrome. The most amazing feature, though, is being able to compile in any format.

    1. I did like that compile option, but I haven’t played with it much. It’s hard for me to import text from my existing document without the formatting going nuts. Maybe on the next book. 🙂

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