I Broke My Comfort Zone. And It Is Good. (Scrivener Review)

I did another thing.

I closed my eyes and took a huge leap out of my comfort zone.

Writers, I think, are all about habits and rituals. We are creatures of comfort.

And I broke it.

I am cheating on Word. I decided that now, with the new novel, to try out Scrivener. I had started it in Word because I needed to type it out quickly while it was fresh. But, as happens when writing, chapters don’t appear chronologically. Working out Chapter one, and several in the middle, and then some from the end, start vying for attention. To keep things less confusing, I started a new folder, and would write each chapter as it appeared as a new document. I’ll sort through them later.

As I started adding secondary characters and making up more names for them, I opened another document to keep track of everyone.

Then I wanted a map. I’ve never needed a map in my other writings, but this one did. I also need to figure out which continent does what, what their symbols would be. Yep. Another document.

What does this mean? Whenever I need to add something new that’s not in sync, or reference my map or my names or my characters, I have to minimize the document I’m working on, and open a new one. That’s a whole lot of documents open at once.

And then I cut things out, but I like the writing a lot, so I’m not going to delete it in case I can repurpose it somewhere else. Yep. New file for ‘Cuts’.

This is just really messy.

I did a trial of Scrivener a couple of years ago, and liked it enough that I bought it. But have been really nervous about actually using it. Yep “Until Now”.

Here’s why I am:


Focus on the left. Everything is right there.

The main view above is Scrivener’s template for a setting description. On the left is all my options and possibilities for this one project.  At the top of this menu is my manuscript. Each chapter is added as a separate text. This is actually REALLY cool. I wish I had it for RMOS, cause I blew it up and rearranged the chapters, which was NOT FUN in Word. Scrivener has a few view options, and this cork board looking thing is one. It’s like Pinterest for your novel, in a way. You can move your chapters around and get a better visual than in file view.


Back to the menu. I can only have a chapter open, or I can have the entire manuscript (which is your only option in Word). If I’m writing several chapters simultaneously, this is helpful. No endless scrolling, no searching, no worry that I’ll forget to finish something.

I opened a new file for all my future chapter plots, which you can see in the screen shot. No closing out of whatever I’m currently doing to search somewhere else in my documents or to add yet another scene I can’t yet add into the bulk. One click. One click back. No mess on my screen or on my bottom bar.

There’s already a file for Research, which I actually started using this week! LOVE it! I’m reading into mythology for belief systems, and I can put what I find right there for easy reference.

There’s a section for Places, and another for Characters. Scrivener has their own templates with prompts for these, but you can also formulate your own templates and use those instead.

Scrivener is (supposedly- haven’t gotten that far) structured for publication. Word is not. Don’t trust what you see on-screen. It WON’T work smoothly when you upload. (Check out Building Your Book for Kindle, which is great for sorting out the kinks in Word and preparing for Kindle or for physical book uploads). Scrivener has all the front matter already there (title page, dedication, copyright). That was the worst in Word. It would not structure the right amount of pages to make the physical book clean and comprehensive. Took forever with lots of swearing and tears.

I EVEN made an Outline! And it’s right there, within easy clicking reach! I’m not an outline sort of writer, but this is spectacular.

I’m still learning, and still discovering, but for those of you still on the fence, hope this helps. Again, they offer a 30 day trial. Which is not actually 30 days from trial start, but 30 days of your real-time use.


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