Monday, August 10, 2009

Scrivener Trial

I downloaded a copy of Scrivener from Literature & Latte and will be giving it a trial run on my aluminum 13" MacBook this month.

If I'm lucky, it will make it easier to make some headway on my single-chapter-long novel "Turned." Last night, I transferred the text from my Open Office file into Scrivener, which allows you to separate text into chapters and scenes. The look and feel is not too far away from iTunes, with a left-hand gutter called the 'binder' that can be turned on or off - this is where you can see the structure of your document. There's also a nifty 'corkboard' view which allows you to pin up virtual index cards with brief synopses of each chapter/scene, and makes it simple to view pieces of your work. Rearranging the pieces is easy with the Outline tool, which shows the synopsis and draft number along with the title of each section. When you're ready to see how the pieces fit together, you can either Export to a document or PDF format, or view a selection of your scenes as a continuous file within Scrivener.

There can be as few or as many chapters and scenes as you like, and each can be 'tagged' so you can keep track of which draft you're on, whether it's a scene or a concept, et cetera. In addition to text, Scrivener can be used to store all those bits of research any writer needs - photos, maps and other images, and other media such as music or video. So there's no need to have more than one program open, and everything flows together! I popped a photo into the Research 'binder' by drag-and-dropping it straight from iPhoto, and it let me resize the picture right there. Easy. And for less distraction, an annoyance second only to writers' block, there's a Full Screen Edit view that hides everything from your e-mail to the dashboard.

When I'm more familiar with Scrivener's capabilities, I'll give a more thorough review. For now, keep watching this space!

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