Why Scrivener Is An Essential Writing Tool For All Authors

When I wrote my first fiction trilogy, I drafted the entire manuscript in Google Drive.

Now that worked very well when I was in first-draft mode, but when I had to pass it on for proof-reading and then begin to format for Kindle and all of the other outlets, I quickly began to regret it.

I moved from Google Drive to Word, via HTML and various free software downloads which helped me to tidy up the formatting problems that I was experiencing along the way.

Needless to say, I soon discovered that I should have done things differently!

Introducing Scrivener

I’d heard a lot of bloggers and podcasters discussing Scrivener, so I checked it out alongside all sorts of other tools such as Calibre, Jutoh and Hemingway.

I even bought a ‘For Dummies’ book on Scrivener, as it seemed to me that this was what most serious writers were using:

I’d heard that Scrivener came with a bit of a learning curve, so I knew that I’d have to invest a bit of time and effort learning how to use it properly.

After a bit of hunting, I came across the ‘Learn Scrivener Fast‘ program and I purchased it.

It came highly recommended via podcasters that I listen to regularly:

Learn Scrivener Fast

Before starting on my second trilogy, I took some time out to learn how to use the software.

It probably took me a day to work through the training videos; I used the ‘For Dummies’ guide if I got stuck on anything and needed a bit of extra clarification.

At the time of writing this post, I’m two-thirds of the way through my second trilogy, and I’m a lot happier as a result of making that commitment to Scrivener.

What I Love About Scrivener

You should check out my full tour of Scrivener in the video at the bottom of this page, it gives a better feel for the Scrivener software.

However, here is just a small selection of the main features that I love about Scrivener.

Scrivener index area1) Scrivener runs regular auto backups, so there’s no losing your precious work.

I run a ‘belt and braces’ option where I save my files to a Dropbox folder.

That way, even if my PC explodes, I’ll still have a copy of the Scrivener file.

2) Scrivener allows me to keep all of my revisions, and my entire trilogy in just one file.

That means I can easily refer to plot details and character notes whenever I need to.

The text is searchable too, so you can lay your hands on information pretty quickly

3) Scrivener gives me plenty of space to add research files, images and the like.

When I was writing my first trilogy, I lost track of all of my research sources.

It was fiction, so nobody died  – well, they did in the book 🙂 –  but it was frustrating when I couldn’t find the original article that I’d used to check a fact or the details of a location.

In Scrivener, I pull in any web articles and background info that I need, and it gets saved in the main file.

I also drag in lots of images to help me picture the characters and locations.

Everything connected with my book is in a single file; that’s helpful as the story grows bigger and bigger.

Scrivener word count

4) Scrivener helps me to set and monitor my writing targets.

I can set the full manuscript word target and my daily writing target as you can see in the image on the right.

This gives a real sense of progress and achievement; I use it alongside a timing software so that I can squeeze my word count out.

5) Scrivener gives me lots of colour-coding and organisational options.

I can create labels and assign colours to them, and fully organise all of my work files.

This helps me to fly around the site, finding exactly what I want without losing anything.

6) I can add comments and notes in Scrivener.

When I write, I write at speed, just to get my story out fast in the first instance.

I do all the checking and re-writing afterwards, but at first, I just want to get into my flow.

So when I come up against a roadblock – perhaps I can’t recall a character’s name or I’ve forgotten key details – I just add a note in Scrivener and get back to it.

I can delete it later on, but it’s a really useful tool if I need to come back to something later.

Scrivener Compile feature

7) Scrivener allows me to export my writing in multiple file formats.

When I pass my text on to my proof-reader, this is handy because she needs a Word file in .docx format.

However, when it’s time to publish on Kindle or Draft2Digital, I need .mobi and .epub files.

Scrivener makes that process easy, and the files are perfectly formatted every time.

I had a lot of trouble with that when I was just using Word and Google drive.

Also, you can include or omit pages and sections when you export, meaning that it’s very easy to create versions of your book.

This is handy for, say, Smashwords, which has specific requirements for the format of your books.

Finally, Scrivener will create your clickable index for you.

Believe me, if you’ve ever tried to create your working table of contents, this is worth the small price of the software alone!

Scrivener Video Tour

As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of Scrivener.

I wish I’d used it for my first trilogy and my non-fiction books, it would have made my life much easier.

To find out more – and to get a sneak peek and some more Scrivener features – take a look at the video tour below:

If you have any comments, questions or tips relating to Scrivener, please post them below.

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