I recently bit the bullet and got myself Scrivener to try. I’d heard good things about it from a few people on my Facebook feed, but I was hesitant. What more do I need to write my stories than just pen and paper?
And, on the surface, that’s true. All you really need to be a writer is an idea and a way to record it. Of course, a typewriter would speed the process exponentially. And obviously a word processing program makes the moving of pieces and editing of your work easier. But I really didn’t think I needed any more than that.
A lot of people enjoy using a cork board or a binder to keep track of their process or progress, but I didn’t need that! Just give me a blank screen and a keyboard and I’m ready to rock!
Oh, I was wrong. So very wrong. I had no idea how badly I needed those features until I had them.
See, the thing is that I really like multi-POV stories. I thought this was a one-time thing with me, just a quirk for my current work in progress, and I’d never return to it again. But as one book became two and two became more, I’m quickly learning that it’s a mechanic I really enjoy.
Scrivener makes it sooo easy to track whose head I’m in and what’s happening in what order as I’m skipping around. I can move entire scenes in seconds if I realize things are happening out of order. I can isolate one character’s arc and read just their sections without having to scroll through pages and pages of material. I can put notes on the synopsis card for the scene or in the margins if I come up with new ideas, and I don’t have to remove those notes before I print pages. I can read through just the scenes with a particular setting or subplot or theme. I can click over to a different scene without losing my place in my current project. How did I do an entire multi-POV novel without this?!
Now, there are a few drawbacks that I’m finding as I go. First and foremost, the import feature seems a little buggy. I’d done several hundred pages of work in my old word processor that I then had to move into Scrivener. Mostly, it worked fine, but the formatting has gotten a little screwy. I’ve spent days combing through and fixing areas where random question marks have appeared or punctuation has vanished. Which is, by and large, a small thing to have to deal with in exchange for the benefits.
The other small issue is that all these nifty features take some time to set up for each project and each scene within it. Yes, you can narrow down your view to just a particular character or subplot but only if you’ve been diligent about tagging each scene for it as you wrote it. Yes, it’s easy to see at a glimpse on your corkboard what the birds-eye view of your story is, but only if you’ve taken the time to put that information into the synopsis cards provided. It’s time-consuming, but I feel the end result is well worth the investment.
As always, be sure to check out the twin post by Rachel at Undivinelight!