Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Baby steps in Scrivener for Windows

A few weeks back I downloaded a beta version of Scrivener, which is a computer program for writing long-format projects. The idea is basically that you have all your notes and writing etc. in one place, and you can break your text into bits which you can then move around on a cork board.

The cork board is what appealed to me initially (apart from the fact that everyone says ‘Scrivener is amazing! Get it!). I’ve been playing around with character POVs and events and where they should go, and the fact that you can move bits back and forth on the cork board is much better than copy-paste-copy-paste-copy-paste-oops-what-have-I-lost in Word.

So I watched the quick how-to video, decided I’d look at the manual later, and transferred my text from Word to Scrivener. I think I may have spent about ten minutes trying to figure out what I was supposed to do (I don’t think I watched the video particularly closely), realised how long it might take to split everything up and make it all nice, and decided I’d do it later.

Then my beta licence ran out.

This week, I decided I’d have another go. I’m at a point where I’m staring at the text thinking ‘is this really getting any better? At all?’, and I thought it might help looking at it from a different perspective. I downloaded the latest beta and spent two and a half hours splitting my manuscript up into scenes/chapters (according to the getting started video, the Mac version has a quick and easy way of doing this, but the Windows version does not yet). And then I was done! I had everything in nice pieces, and I could look at scene summaries on the cork board and move things around with the click of a button!

A bit later I discovered the quick and easy split button (cntrl-k), which is now actually in the Windows version. Oh well.

I got all adventurous and moved everything around. Then I got scared and moved it back exactly how it was before.

Still not sure how I save a new revision... I always keep my old files, and I tend to accumulate a lot of them. If I could save the old version, I wouldn’t be so scared about moving things around. I think. Though some of the moving around may have put events completely out of order...

I think I’m getting the hang of things, though. I like how you can label scenes and click easily through the whole thing. I have many, many auxiliary files, and I guess I can put them in at some time.

How much can you do before legitimate ‘work’ becomes procrastination?

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