Do you know what scrivener means? You may know that Scrivener is writing software, which is what I’m posting about today, but, just as a side-note, the word is an old one. Dating from the 14th century, it means a scribe, a person who writes a document for another, especially for a fee. I first encountered the word when I was in high school and we read Herman Melville’s wonderful story, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” which is free on Project Gutenberg.
SO ANYWAY, I bought a copy of Scrivener, the writing software, but I’ve not been charmed by it. I’ve tried to use it multiple times but have, in the end, preferred not to. It’s been invaluable, though, in that just beginning to organize my thoughts in order to use it has always clicked enough pieces into place that I could just dispense with the program and write the story.
This time, though, I think, by George, I’ve got it.
WHY THIS TIME?
I’m putting together a book of short stories set in the world of SAGE, my fantasy trilogy (click here to read excerpts, go on, it ain’t gonna kill ya). A couple of the stories are unfinished and one, the one I’m working on now, is only a sketch. This, I thought, was the perfect project for Scrivener.
And, sure enough, I think it is. Scrivener has a template for character sketches and one for scene sketches. I have two scenes and two main characters, with a third character a little more minor than the other two. Filling out those scene/character sketches have forced me to come to grips with story questions I usually just answer as I go along, but which, apparently, needed to be answered first for this story.
You gotta do what you gotta do, amIright?
Scrivener allows you to break your story into scenes, which you can work on independently of one another, and which you can easily shuffle around if a different order seems better. Much easier than cutting and pasting, which was a miracle when I could first do it, don’t get me wrong.
When you’re done, you can export everything in the order you decided on into a variety of formats (like doc or rtf or mobi). You can take it to your critique group and, if they say the order of the scenes is confusing or would be stronger in a different order, and you agree with them, it’s (to quote the Crazy Russian Hacker) soopair eezy to rearrange them.
So I’m jumping on the Scrivener bandwagon. It’s even unofficially (but permitted by the Scrivener folks) available for Linux!
Do you use Scrivener? Do you like it? What’s your favorite thing about it?
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character is dragged, kicking and screaming, into the modern world or is converted to something he or she previously considered worthless.