For years I’d heard about this software programme that would change the way I approached my writing. I downloaded the trial and it seemed complicated at first, but I read through the tutorial and decided last August to use it for Camp NaNo.

I thought I would use the competition and a new project as a trial run to see how I got on. I wrote the first draft of A Scream In The Woods exclusively using Scrivener and I loved it.

No going back now!

Word served its purpose, but now I see it as too one-dimensional. I’ve bought into the Scrivener Project mode where you can have everything at your fingertips.

Scrivener 1From the graphic above, down the left-hand side, Scrivener organises all the tools you’ll need. All your Chapters are in separate folders and you have space for Characters and your Research.

I suppose it depends on how you work. If you write using one file and have hand written cards for character profiles then you might not think this is worth it.

I have a Word .doc file for each chapter and another .doc file for each character detailing their traits and information relevant to the current WIP. I’d be forever flicking between files trying to find what I wanted.

Scrivener lets you organise all this in one place. If you want to split your scenes down you can do that under each chapter’s folder. Then if you want to move scenes around. Drag and drop and it’s done. Easy peasy.

Scrivener 2

Rather than having to open loads of documents, I now open the one file. When I want to remember what car my character drives I click on characters and the information is there. I have a few bits of research copied and pasted from the web. It’s where I want it under Research.

I thought it was complicated, but the more I use it, the more it dawns on me that it isn’t. I’m sure there are features I don’t use that would save me even more time. Right now, I wouldn’t go back to using Word or anything else.

I’m not on commission, but the 30 day trial is free so if you were thinking of giving Scrivener a go you have nothing to lose.

What do you think about the Scrivener and other writing programmes? What do you use?



This is my S post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be found here.

Today’s photographs are a variety of sunsets.

Malcesine on Lake Garda, Italy

Malcesine on Lake Garda, Italy

Whitby, view out to Sandsend

Whitby, view out to Sandsend

Sunset over Stratford and the river Avon

Sunset over Stratford and the river Avon

About Pete Denton

I'm a writer working my way through the redrafts of a British crime novel. I also write short stories, flash fiction and some screen writing. Check out my blog for more.
This entry was posted in A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Scrivener

  1. I am always wary of software that organises for you; you end up working not as you might want, but as the software writer thinks you should. But I keep hearing positive things about Scrivener, so I’ll be interested to know how you get on.

    Personally I use Word for everything – and have been for about 20 years, so it’s habit; but also, I mostly write non-fiction, which Scrivener wouldn’t suit. thanks for sharing.

    Some great pix too!

  2. Timely. I am three days into the trial version. Almost certain I will purchase.

  3. karengadient says:

    I’ve been using Scrivener since 2007, for both fiction and non-fiction projects. It works like I do. Love it.

  4. Wordlander says:

    Software sounds interesting. Not used any specific software since I was young but having the simple straightforward access to files seems useful. I’ll take a look at it. Thanks for the post.

  5. It sounds like an interesting program. I’ve always just used one file for writing, but it’s difficult when you have to go searching for a piece of information that might be a hundred or so pages back.

  6. djpaterson says:

    Okay, on your recommendation, I’ll give the 30-day trial a go.

  7. katemsparkes says:

    I like Scrivener. No, I more than like it. What I feel for it borders on affection, which seems very wrong, but I can’t help it. It’s helped me so much! I hate flicking between files looking for information, or worse, in a 60,000+ word document. With Scrivener, if I want to go back and change something it’s right there, clearly labelled, right where I left it. If I want to try removing a scene and rewriting, I just move the old version into my “HOLD” folder, and it’s there if I want to change back. Changing chapter divisions is as easy as moving the text bits between folders.

    I did a comparison between Scrivener and Yarny not long ago (because my bleeping little netbook wouldn’t run Scrivener, for some reason), and concluded that holy crap, I missed Scrivener. I don’t use half of the features, but what I use makes me recoil from Word in horror when I contemplate using it for anything longer than a blog post. 🙂

    • Pete Denton says:

      I don’t think I could go back to using Word now. I agree about the features, there are many that I’m not using as well. I like being able to move scenes easily I’ve been able to search the scenes containing specific characters points of view, everything about it works for me.

  8. I have downloaded and am attempting to try yWriter.

  9. Another one here who can’t contemplate life without Scrivener! In addition to what you do, I also tag all my posts with a colour coded system. I’ve played around with it a bit on different novels. For one, I used colours to indicate the intensity of a scene – were we giving the reader background, or was the plot taking a dramatic turn? Then, when I saw it on the pin board, I could make sure it had rhythm. Now, I’m playing around with the 12 steps of Campbell’s mythic journey.

    Also, another great feature is the project search. Instantly find all the instances of a word or phrase in the entire work. Add to this the fact that it works with Dropbox and silently saves and backs up without bothering you, and you have a winner!

    • Pete Denton says:

      I’ve tagged each scene with the point of view of the character featured in it to help search and keep track. The idea of colour coding sounds like good one, I might have to use that as well. Definitely onto a winner. 🙂

  10. shell flower says:

    I think I might check out the free trial. I keep hearing how awesome Scrivener is.

  11. Nagzilla says:

    I have to admit, as a techie geek this looks really cool.

  12. I love Scrivener! I’ve been using it for 2 years now and while I prefer Word for shorter pieces (flash and Short fiction), I wouldn’t write novels on anything else.

    • Pete Denton says:

      The only thing I’ve not worked out yet is how to print in Scrivner. I still compile to Word and then print. At the moment I have not done much other than write novels so not sure whether I would write short stories or flash fiction In it. Something to think about in the future. 🙂

  13. I tried it for this April’s Camp NaNo. Perhaps I didn’t give it a fair try but I didn’t like it. I couldn’t get used to the note card part, it didn’t let me do my Protaganist, Antagonist, Setting, Conflict, Twist sentence for each scene at the top of the card. (Which I normally do on 4X6 index cards). I will admit I like being able to refer quickly to my character sketches. However, I couldn’t figure out how to do location notes. Anyway I ended up putting the WIP back into Word and making my notes on characters and locations on notebook paper, the way I’m used to. I’ll give it another try, I don’t like to give up on things too soon.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Sorry it didn’t seem to work out for you. I can understand doing camp number you need to have something that worked quickly otherwise you would miss your daily word counts! Good luck with your next try. Happy writing 🙂

  14. I love Scrivener. I have been using it for three years and it keeps improving with every update.

  15. cassmob says:

    I’ve heard lots of positives re Scrivener. I will, I will, I will try it! Wonder how it will go for fqmily history.

    • Pete Denton says:

      I think it should work for any kind of writing. Make sure you go through the tutorial. I’m sure it will make a difference in the end. Happy writing 🙂

  16. I have run through the tutorial and it looks promising. I have used New Novelist, a similar software system, in the past. However, it seems Scrivener may be a little more robust. We’ll see how it goes.

  17. noelleg44 says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’m not so far along with a new book so it could be- very useful! Loved the pictures – never saw the Avon River, even when I was in Stratford for a performance of The Tempest. How did I miss it?

  18. alisonamazed says:

    Hi Pete, That’s a really interesting post about Scrivener. There’s a woman in Brighton who uses a derivative of ‘scrivener’ as her the nym – at least she is the person who’s gravatar comes to mind when I hear the word! In any case, the program you describe sounds like the perfect thing for me….it might even help me organize all the files on my computer – too many, far too many.

  19. Liz Brownlee says:

    That sounds very clear, you explained it well. I’m a poet – i have endless problems trying to find the most up-to-date version of poems as I file them all over the place – too many of them really. I think as I’m on mac that updating to the latest version would help as then every version is behind the one you are working on at the minute, but I do sometimes wonder if a software thing is the way to go!

    Good luck with the rest of the A-Z! I’m doing animal poems and facts and often a drawing as well, I like to make things hard for myself.


  20. Mama J says:

    I’ve never used scrivener but it does look quite useful having everything in one place.

  21. Laura Hogan says:

    I always hear good things about Scrivener. I use one document in Word at the moment, but I think I might use Scrivener for my next novel!

  22. jadereyner says:

    I’d heard of Scrivener but never really realised what it was. Now I do! Having just completed a fairly long novel in Word, I can see how this programme would benefit me. May have to have a little look. Thanks for the tip off!

  23. I’m on the fence with Scrivener. I love all the features, but I find them a little distracting (the equivalent of having too many places to store stuff). Plus, I’m addicted to planning out my novels using pen and a spiral. I make a scrapbook full of notes and visuals to help me work out the plot.

    • Pete Denton says:

      I’ve been known to map bits of mine out in PowerPoint! I can see certain parts not working for you that way. I’m finding the features I don’t know about tempting, but I’ll wait until I finish the latest draft before I investigate further.

  24. ioniamartin says:

    Thank you for this. I have been hearing about this and wondering what it was for a while but never got around to looking it up.

  25. jmmcdowell says:

    I love Scrivener and would never go back to Word. The flexibility it offers works for all types of writers, from pantsers to outliners. There is a bit of a learning curve, but it’s worth the time and effort!

  26. My “s” was for Scrivener, too! Although strangely, I find I compose in Word or Ommwriter, but then port it all to Scrivener the moment I ened to do anything remotely revision-oriented.

    I think it’s a godsend. So nice when people design software with exactly the needs of a specific set of users in mind. I’m using it to write my dissertation, too.

  27. Subtlekate says:

    Another convert. There is no resistance to the Scrivener.

  28. Pingback: T for Tracking | My corner of the world

  29. I hear nothing but good things about Scrivener. Thank you. Will have to come back here when I finally to download it.

  30. Looks like I need to spend my next free day learning Scrivener techniques…

    • Pete Denton says:

      Next time we all get together bring your laptop and we can go through some of it if you like. I like it more and more and I probably only use 5% of what it can do. I feel more Scrivener related posts forming 🙂

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