Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review of Writer's Software: Scrivener

Reviewed by Anne Jayne

Scrivener is a word processing and project management program for writers.

Designed for writers who have projects that require research and structure, including novelists, screenwriters, playwrights, academic writers, journalists, non-fiction writers...

Available: Scrivener at Literature and Latte
Mac OS X 10.4 and higher (including Snow Leopard). No Windows version.
Price: U.S. $39.95 (About $43 Canadian)

If you’re writing a mystery, and you own a Mac, check out Scrivener.

A writer friend who had used Scrivener to write her novel strongly recommended this program to me. I took advantage of the 30-day free trial, and decided to buy it within a week. It is a brilliant program.

Scrivener combines a word processor with project management tools which help writers with outlining, story-boarding, writing, and editing. It was created by a novelist, but its usefulness is not limited to fiction writers.

Scrivener offers an easy way for writers to store all the data gathered along the way—ideas, notes, character information, plans, research material, you name it.  All of this material, whether it is text, PDF, audio, video, or photos, can be stored in the “research” section of the Scrivener “binder” for a specific project.

When the writer is ready to outline the manuscript, she can choose either the outliner tool or the index cards and corkboard method. Outlines, drafts, and research materials can be easily brought together with the split screen function.

The snapshot feature allows the writer to save the current version of a document on the screen with one click, in case it is needed later. The writer can then move immediately to editing the draft, knowing that the previous version of the text is still available—as are all the other versions saved before that one.

I highly recommend it. So does David Hewson, who writes the best-selling mysteries featuring Detective Costa. Hewson wrote a testimonial that is on the Scrivener website: “The more I use it, the more I realise it can replace every other application I've adopted over the years for writing books.”

If you take advantage of the 30-day free trial, start with the tutorial, which takes about 30 minutes. That will give you a good overview of what Scrivener can do.

Incidentally, Scrivener is not one of those software programs for writers that tries to tell you what to write. You decide what to write. Scrivener just helps you to manage all of the data you collect when you are working on your book, and all of the drafts, until you complete the final manuscript.

Team Literature and Latte is composed of two Brits: Keith and David.

Keith created Scrivener when he was writing his own novel. David handles marketing and, reportedly, tea-making. Together they set up Literature and Latte, and made Scrivener available to the wider public.