Thursday, February 7, 2013

Scrivener-Everything But The Muse

Hi everyone! Audra here.

Anyone who has participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is familiar with their promotion of Scrivener novel writing software. For years, this genius program has been available to Mac users only and flaunted each November with percent off discounts during NaNoWriMo. They promised the software program would be available for PC users soon, but alas, the wait continued. A few months ago I noticed Scrivener available for PC and immediately downloaded the program. It has so many great features, I didn't know where to begin. I went looking for help.

I've invited Gwen Hernandez, author of Scrivener For Dummies, to join us today. I purchased her book and it did indeed help me scout around the program. I have also registered for her online class on how to use Scrivener which begins later this month. Gwen has a wealth of knowledge to share. I hope you find it as helpful as I do!!

Scrivener-Everything But The Muse

Even the best writing software can’t write for you, but it can make writing—and the management of notes, ideas, images, and research—easier.

My favorite writing tool is Scrivener. With versions for both Mac and Windows—and even an iPad version on the way—just about anyone can use it. But what does it offer that a standard word processor like Microsoft Word doesn’t?

Just about everything but the muse. Here’s a small sample of what makes this software so fabulous.

Scrivener is like a Trapper Keeper®. No, it doesn’t sport sparkly unicorns or montages of Justin Bieber, but the concept is the same. To start, Scrivener lets you write in chunks—such as scenes or chapters—called documents. So you can quickly find the spot you’re looking for, and easily move parts of your manuscript around.

You can also import research documents, web sites, and photos right into your project, so even when you take your laptop on the road, you have everything you need.

Plus, you can keep outlines, notes on ideas for changes and future scenes, and character and setting information all within the project. No more scouring your hard drive or that pile of sticky notes on your desk for a crucial piece of information.

Scrivener remembers your spot. Every time you open a project in Scrivener, it takes you right to the document and line where you left off. Maybe not such a big deal when writing the first draft, but when you’re in the midst of revisions, it’s a lifesaver.

It even saves the last spot you worked on in each document. A small, but wonderful thing.

Your structure is easy to see. The Binder, where you view all of the documents in your project, gives you an at-a-glance overview of your entire manuscript.

Scrivener works well with unpredictable muses. When the muse strikes unexpectedly, capturing your idea is a breeze. I tend to be a fairly linear writer, but when I get an idea for a future scene or bit of dialogue, there’s no easy way to store it in a Word document without keeping it at the bottom until I’m ready for it.

In Scrivener, you can create a new scene, write out your idea, and then figure out where it goes later, without it being in the way of what you’re working on now.

You can also add notes right into the text you’re working on. When you can’t think of the perfect line of dialogue, or you need to do some additional research, simply insert an annotation as a reminder and then get back to writing.

Other options include putting a note in the Synopsis section (the index card), adding a document note, or using a separate document for an ideas log.

Another trick I like is to use the Project Notes (visible from all documents) for a quick-view list of each character and his/her vital stats such as hair and eye color, height, age, and job/role/rank. Everything is under the umbrella of a single project and easy to find.

Color-coding. In Scrivener, you can label and color code your documents by whatever piece of data you want to track. For example, I tag my fiction scenes by point-of-view (POV) character, using blue for the hero and pink for the heroine (because I’m so original). Instantly, I can see which character a scene belongs to and check my overall POV balance.

When I wrote Scrivener For Dummies, I used the Label field to keep track of the status of each section of the book (e.g. Not Started, WIP, To Editor, Author Review, Complete). My blog project uses colors to track the group blog on which the post appears. For guest appearances, like this one, I track the phase the article/interview is in (e.g. Planning, Submitted, Accepted, Delivered).

Auto-save protects your hard work. If you’ve ever faced the Blue Screen of Death, or lost power after writing 3000 words without saving, you can appreciate that Scrivener saves your project every time there’s more than two seconds of inactivity. So while you’re pondering your next sentence, Scrivener’s committing your words to memory.

Scrivener also makes it easy to back up your project to an external disk (e.g. flash drive, external hard drive, or online site like Dropbox). A must in case your hard drive fails, you spill water on your laptop, or someone steals your computer.

Working without distractions. Scrivener’s full screen composition mode—I call it Zen mode—blocks out all distractions, making it easier to focus on your writing. Change the background color or image (images are Mac only for now) to suit your mood or story.

Tracking progress. Scrivener makes it easy to set word count targets for your entire manuscript, as well as each session. You can also set a target for a specific document. A colorful progress bar shifts from red to green as you approach your goal.

Scrivener works for plotters and pantsers alike. Plotters and storyboarders will love the Corkboard where you can create an index card (another view for a document) for each scene—and add a synopsis or note about the scene, if desired—and then add text to the documents when you have the order figured out. And if an outline is more your thing, Scrivener has that view too.

Pantsers can just create a document within the project and start writing their first scene. If you’re a pantser, you might find the Outliner or Corkboard helpful for looking at your story structure or checking your timeline as you get further along in the manuscript.

Advanced searches. Scrivener lets you customize and even save searches to quickly find what you’re looking for. Want to know in which scenes you mentioned an item, person, or place? A project search returns a list of all documents that match your search criteria.

You can also find specific types of formatting, including annotations, comments, highlighter color, text color, and footnotes.

Exporting to e-books is a snap. Scrivener is your one-stop publishing program. When your masterpiece is done, you can compile (export) it to an EPUB or MOBI (Amazon Kindle) file for easy self-publishing, or for perusing on your e-reader. You can also export to DOC, RTF, TXT, PDF, direct-to-printer, and other formats.

FREE trial. Scrivener comes with a 30-use free trial which gives you access to the full version of the software. There’s no time limit, it’s based solely on the number of times you open it. And if you decide—gasp!—that Scrivener’s not for you, just export what you’ve done to a Word DOC or other file and you’re good to go.

That’s just a small list of what makes Scrivener too hot to resist. So, if you’re tired of your stodgy, inflexible word processor, hook up with a program that frees your mind for the important things. Like coaxing your muse back from the Bahamas.

Gwen will be giving away either a signed book (US/Canada only) or a free class registration for either February or September to one commenter. Check out her website for class details! Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies (Aug 2012, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.), and the teacher of popular online Scrivener classes for Mac and Windows. A 2011 Golden Heart® finalist in Romantic Suspense, she lives in Northern Virginia with her Air Force husband, two teenage boys, and a lazy golden retriever. Learn more about her book or classes and get free Scrivener tips at


  1. Hi Gwen:

    What day does your class start? Will it be finished by 1 March? Speedbo starts here then. BTW: do you think this program will help a writer who is trying to write a book in a month or do you think all the many choices will slow a writer down?

    I'd like to try it and plan to download the free program in the morning.

    Great post. Thanks,


    P.S. I'd bring coffee but I think I see Helen coming.

  2. I was tired tonight and have a busy day tomorrow. I thought about skipping Seekerville tonight. I'm glad I didn't. This was very informative and helpful. I have heard of Scrivener off and on but now I understand it a lot better. I will have to get the book soon.

  3. I love it when something hits me so dramatically! I was just on the web two nights ago and stumbled upon Scrivener. I had heard about it but had always heard it was for MAC only. Was I surprised when I found a PC version. I quickly downloaded the trial but must admit I haven't had time to tour through it...this weekend I plan to do just that.

    Thank you for all the wonderful information in your post today. I immediately printed it out for future use.

    I would love to be entered into your giveaway. Thank you so much.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  4. Audra, thank you so much for bringing Gwen here to talk about Scrivener!

    Hi Gwen. I'm so glad you're here and that I know about a class in advance. I've been meaning to take one of your classes for ages!

    I downloaded Scrivener to my Mac years ago and played with it a bit but never took the time to learn it. I always mean to, but ....

    So now I will.

    And Gwen, congrats on the 25,000 words in January!!! I just read your blog post. Love that the new regime is working for you.


  5. I am a Scrivener fan. I used it for my NaNo and took the version for the half price. Learning on the fly during November, as I did, I'm sure I barely skimmed its options. I'd love to be in the drawing for book or class. Or maybe a home visit?

    I enjoy having different photos of my template 'characters' up and open while I write. Sometimes I can look at them and know exactly how they'd react. Oh, we writers are so odd! (because I know I'm not the only one who does that)

    I've worked on both the Mac and Windows version and have yet to see a difference in how they operate. Thanks so much Gwen!

    HELEN, I started the coffee, and I think I hear the deli delivery coming in the back door.

    Fresh bagels to start!

  6. Hi Gwen,

    I need that class. I've got your book for dummies, and I've learned a lot from it, but I still think there's so much more I need to know.

    I'm heading to your website now for more details. Please add my name to the drawing. Thanks so much.

    Jackie L.

  7. I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to Gwen for writing Scrivener for Dummies! I'd been using Scrivener--and loving it--but knowing I wasn't using it anywhere near its capabilities. Now this book sits beside me as I write. I have loved learning how meta-data and keywords can help me evaluate the overall picture of my novel and make sure my characters and subplots are pulled all the way through. Having Scrivener for Dummies beside me has made it even more of a pleasure to sit down and write each day!

  8. Thank you, Gwen. I've been intending to download Scrivener and give it a try, but I wanted to finish my current book and start clean with something new.

    I like the idea of having a separate place for those snippets of a scene that come when I'm not quite ready for them. As you said, I tend to put them at the bottom of the document, and they can get in the way.

    I'll be checking it out soon.

  9. Good morning, everyone! Look at all the early birds...or night owls, depending on your perspective : )

    Ever since my first NaNo, I've drooled over the thought of using a complete novel writing program where all my information can be stored together, no matter the format.

    But of course at the time, Scrivener was only available for Mac users. Bummer.

    I've downloaded the Windows version and have been playing with it. What fun! But like any new toy, it's more productive when you know how to use it, LOL!

    I'm so glad Gwen is joining us today. I know I need her help : )

    Breakfast buffet is open. How about carrot cake muffins and a variety of bagels and spreads. Of course, juice and coffee always abound in Seekerville.

    Where is Helen??

  10. Hi AUDRA, Thanks for bringing Gwen to Seekerville.

    GWEN, Welcome and thanks for the terrific information. This sounds like a wonderful program. Might be that I need your class as learning tech things on my own these days is a bust. LOL

  11. Vince, I think Gwen's class runs through March. I'm starting a new project in a new Scrivener binder as I learn new facts about my new Scrivener program.

    LOL! AND write lots of words...

  12. DEBRA, thanks for the coffee and sending the deli wagon.

    I have a platter of fresh fruit. Tastes yummy.

  13. Mary, when are days NOT busy anymore? Sheesh, It seems like I constantly have task spill over.

    I can't remember the last time I folded laundry, much less paired socks...

    Thanks for taking the time to stop by : )

  14. Debra, thanks for sending the deli delivery. Let's see, I've got the baked goodies and rumor has it Sandra is bringing fresh fruit.

    Yep, I think we're ready to feed the masses!

  15. Wow, this sounds terrific! I've heard about Scrivener in other blogs. I got a Mac for Christmas. Scrivener could just be the next writerly aid I purchase. I love all the ways it helps a writer keep up with and stay organized. Your class and book sound great! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Gwen!

  16. Audra, I'm so glad you invited Gwen to be with us today! Gwen, I'm already signed up for your class for this month! I'm really looking forward to it. I only use the cork board right now. Can't wait to use all these other great features you mentioned in the post!!

  17. Wow, I think I'm late for the party already! ;-) Had to get my morning words in. Thanks so much for hosting me today, Audra!

  18. Vince: Classes start February 19th and run for four weeks, plus two weeks of open questions. I post a lesson every weekday, and I'll be having some live Q&A sessions that will be recorded for those who can't log on at the specified time.

    I think Scrivener is awesome for someone trying to write fast, but if you're distracted because you're not very familiar with it yet, it could slow you down.

    I say give it a look with the free trial. If it makes sense to you right away, there are so many features that support working quickly. Full screen mode, annotations, notes, having your research handy... :-)

    Good luck!

  19. Mary:
    Glad you didn't skip Seekerville, and that you found the post helpful. Get some rest! ;-)

  20. Great, Cindy! I love it when things come together like that. Happens to me all the time. Have fun!

  21. Mary Curry: Yay, I'm glad you'll finally be able to join. And thanks! The new schedule is working wonders for my productivity and I feel so good about myself these days. ;-)

  22. Vince, join us and take the class. Looks like Missy will be there, too. We'll all get smarter together : )

  23. Debra E Marvin: Congrats on winning NaNo! If you live in Northern Virginia, a house visit can be arranged. ;-) If you're going to RWA in Atlanta, I'll be giving a workshop on creating e-books with Scrivener, and I'll also be at the NJRW conference in October.

    I think having character photos up while you write is great. I do that with my setting sometimes.

    BTW, an update to the Windows version just came out yesterday, so you might see a few changes. I haven't had a chance to go over the list yet.

  24. It was fun reading the post, and i love just hanging out with you gals and guy. Definitely a great way to start the morning, never mind getting those calories and coffee i run on. i am not a writer, please don't add my name. Have a great day!

  25. Jackie: I'm glad you've found the book helpful. Good luck! :-)

  26. Congrats on the 25000 words last month, Gwen! You went into detail on your blog, The Edited Life, but could you give us a quick synopsis of your secret?

    A quick synopsis? LOL, can you tell we're all writers and readers??

  27. Anne Mateer: Wow, thank you! You just made my morning. =) Aren't keywords and meta-data great? Not necessary but so helpful.

  28. Absolutely, Sandra. And that's just the start. :-)

  29. Sandra Leesmith: You're welcome! I think taking a class is always the easiest way to learn something new. It kind of "forces" you to take the time to work on it.

    Plus, in class I provide hand-holding as needed. ;-)

  30. Jeanne T: I'm always happy to talk about one of my favorite subjects. ;-) Scrivener is the best thing that ever happened to my writing process.

    I suggest starting with the free trial. It's a full version of the software, so if you decide to buy, you just pay for a registration code, enter it, and keep writing:

    Enjoy the new Mac!

  31. Yay, Missy! We'll definitely go beyond the corkboard. Thanks for signing up. :-)

  32. Welcome to Seekerville, Gwen.

    I just want to say, that you are a genius. There are tons of us selling books out there but this little thing is what is going to make you stand out from the pack. Pure marketing genius.

    "You know that author, the Scrivener gal."

    I'm a visual learner so I am going to have to buy the book and take the class.I will do this. So wave at me when I am in the front row.

    Apply for a two hour class at RWA. There are lots of visual learners like me.

    I use Michael Hauges DVD The Hero's Two Journey's constantly as do many other authors. A DVD of this would be awesome.

    Maybe your book has a DVD or CD?

    Anyhow, wishing you continued success and a soon sale on your suspense. Can you tell us how that's going as a random aside?

  33. Thanks, Audra. Basically, I started scheduling my day so that writing (or editing/revisions) came before anything else (except breakfast). 90 minutes, no excuses.

    It sounds too simple, but once I made the commitment something clicked in my brain. And now that I've been doing it for more than a month, it's a habit. It doesn't hurt that being productive feels good. It gives me a reason to stay up after my kids leave for school. ;-)

  34. Hi Tina:

    How about a LearnSo? We could all take a class in a month to learn a new software program.


  35. I just read the comments. YOU ARE DOING A WORKSHOP AT RWA. I imagine a class on Scrivner at RWA is too long.

    Okay, normally I write two lines in my comments. But I am sooo jazzed bout this!!!

  36. Hi Audra:

    I’d love to be in a class with you and Missy but are you guys going to lurk? I’ve had that happen and it’s just like the person not being there. : (


  37. Good morning Seekerville!

    I admit to being confused about Scrivener, but this column helped, thanks! When I get around to it, I probably will need a class, but I still need to get some craft stuff cleared up. I may see you in Atlanta at RWA!



  38. Tina Radcliffe: Ha, well if I'm a genius, it's purely by accident. ;-) But, thanks!

    My workshop at RWA will be a 2-hour block. I figured to leave time for questions, a double session was mandatory.

    I love Michael Hauge! Saw him in person here last year, and have his CD. I don't have a DVD of my own, but the live sessions in my classes will provide a visual aid for what we're learning. That's one of the reasons I switched from Yahoo Groups to WizIQ for my classes.

    Have you checked out L&L's tutorials page? Lots of free videos on popular Scrivener topics:

    My romantic suspense took a back seat last year when I was writing Scrivener For Dummies, but it had been going well. I was a 2011 Golden Heart finalist and got a few revise-and-resubmit requests. Currently, I'm working on a new manuscript, and trying to figure out the revisions I need for that old one. Thanks for asking!

  39. Piper: Glad it helped. I hope you can make the workshop in Atlanta.

  40. Hi Gwen:

    I have a few more questions:

    1) does Scrivener have a feature that will allow the Kindle version of your book to pop up within the application? I really want the large print I can get on Kindle – especially on a PC.

    2) Do you use Yahoo Groups to conduct your class? I am just now learning how such a group works. I just finished a great online plotting ‘bootcamp’ class and I’d love to have an alternative to using Excel spreadsheets.

    3) Also, what chat program do you use? We could not get AIM to work but Chatzy worked well for everyone.

    4) I was in the K-9 section in the AF. Are either of your boys going to join the Air Force? I’d love to do it again.


  41. Tina Radcliffe: I'm providing a half-day workshop for Silicon Valley RW in March. If you have enough interest in your local chapter, maybe they'd be willing to do something similar.

  42. Vince:
    1) Scrivener does not have a way to view your Kindle book within the program, but I believe Kindle has a PC viewer so you can read Kindle books on your computer. If you just want larger text when writing, you can change the Zoom in Scrivener.

    2) I used to use Yahoo Groups, but I switched to WizIQ this year. It's not free for me, but it allows me to provide some live sessions with screen sharing and chatting. It also lets students better control the amount of email they get from the class.

    3) Again, WizIQ lets me chat live. Also, the class has a Course Feed section which looks a lot like a Facebook comment wall where students can leave questions.

    4) I'll bet the K-9 unit was interesting! My youngest (14) might consider military service, but he's not sure. He's really into planes and wants to be an aerospace engineer like his dad. My oldest (16) has no interest in the military at all. ;-)

  43. Thanks for this post, Gwen (and Audra!). This was very informative and helpful, because I knew next-to-nothing about Scrivener, LOL. I appreciate this great overview.
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  44. Marianne Barkman: Sorry, I missed your post earlier. Glad you enjoyed reading. Maybe someday you'll have a reason to use Scrivener. I'm trying to get my kids to use it for school papers, and boy do I wish I'd had it in college, especially for my thesis!

  45. I've been reading a lot about Scrivener lately and find that as I write more, I need more organization than this pantser did when I first started writing seriously. It may just be time to try out the trial version.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  46. Thanks, Gwen, I am as I speak emailing my local chapters to ask about hosting you. Excitement mounts.

  47. Hi Gwen,

    I've heard of Scrivener - but never had the push to try it. Now, though, between your brief tutorial of the features, and reaching the end of revisions of my WIP in Word (with the accompanying frustrations of working in a single document!!), I'm ready to give it a try.

    Heading off to download the trial now...

    And Audra, thanks for breakfast!

  48. Thank you Gwen and Audra!
    I'd wondered about this myself but wasn't concerned because I use a PC.

    I've been using Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake and have been happy with it for the most part.

    However, as you mentioned, when an idea pops up for this or that, I don't have a good spot to park it.

    Would be interested in learning more. Thanks for being here! Please put me in for the drawing. I look forward to reading the comments later in the day. Off to the races now!

  49. Vince, I will not be a lurker during Gwen's class. I can't afford to be if I want to learn how to use the program to its fullest potential.

    That does mean sacrifices in other areas of my life. Remember my one word for the year is MANAGEMENT. There are only so many hours in the day and between work and sleep, 16 of them are accounted for. Bummer.

    Besides, the first binder I've compliled in Scrivener looks like gobblety gook. I need organization!!

  50. Jan Drexler, eat up! I'm refreshing the goodie platter as we speak...

  51. Sorry kids, I gotta get back to work. I'll pop in again.

  52. Hi Gwen,

    Thanks for being here. I'm still in the 30 day trial stage of Scrivener (though I've probably had it on my desktop for 90). I intend to purchase it specifically for epub and mobi.

    Can you tell me the best or easiest way to import to Scrivener for revising an existing manuscript created in a word for mac doc?

    I'm going to be checking out both your class and the book!


  53. Gwen, thanks so much. I've considered Scrivener for some time, but I didn't own a MAC so I tried three other writer's helpers. I have them but didn't stick with them. Now I have a Mac and I am a touch hesitant to give Scrivener a go. The 30 day trial looks promising.

    Tina, if you get a local chapter interested, I might be interested.

    Tina P.

  54. Absolutely, Lizzie Starr. I think the more you write, the more you realize how cool it would be if only your word processor did XYZ.

    Definitely check out the free trial.

  55. Jan Drexler: Great, I hope you like it!

  56. May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen):
    I haven't used the snowflake method, but I've heard a bit about it. I believe someone out there even has a snowflake template for Scrivener.

    The thing about Scrivener is that it works with whatever writing style, method, or process you have.

  57. Rogenna Brewer: To import, go to File-->Import-->Files. Then find and choose your DOC. If you used # or some other character(s) to denote scene breaks, you can use File-->Import-->Import and Split to automatically split the imported document into scenes.

    Hope that helps!

  58. I find this all very frightening and a little depressing.
    Mary "Techno-Phobe" Connealy

  59. Tina Pinson:
    Definitely check out the free trial. It's good for 30 uses, so if you don't open it every day, you'll get more than 30 days out of it.

    Maybe check out the included tutorial (on the new project screen that pops up, or in the Help menu) for a quick overview. Good luck!

  60. Mary Connealy: Oh no, don't be scared. ;-) I know, new software can be intimidating, and everyone feels like they need to know it all right away. But you don't.

    If you're a nervous learner, you might do better with a class or in-person workshop than a book. At least until you're more comfortable with the program.

  61. Gwen, Scrivener sounds wonderful! I think it'll help a lot. Thanks for the information.

  62. Thank you, Gwen.

    That's very helpful. I'm going to go try it now.


  63. This is useful info for writers of all genres. So as my friend Rogenna Brewer reminded me..give Gwen a tweet today. At the bottom of the post is a Twitter link.

  64. Gwen,
    I'm a new fan of Scrivener, had to wait on PC version. I'm learning to use it as I work on my current project.
    I'd love to take the class. Thank you for sharing such great information.

  65. Thanks for the info. I've heard of Scrivnet, but never realized the full range of capabilities. Id love to read your book or take a class

  66. Audra, thanks for bringing Gwen to Seekerville to give us the lowdown on Scrivener.

    Thanks, Gwen, for the informative post! I'm impressed with what this software can do for writers. A while back I actually downloaded the freebie but then couldn't do a thing with it. I always struggle with new techology. Even old technology. LOL


  67. I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.

    Thank you, Debra, for taking care of the coffee. Here's a fresh pot.

    I'm such a sluggard when it comes to learning new programs. Ask anyone! But Scrivener does sound interesting.


  68. Ruth Tredway:
    I'm glad they finally have a PC version out. I always felt bad for my Windows friends who couldn't use it. ;-) Good luck with your WIP!

  69. Oh I'm SO printing this out. About three thirds of the way through the tutorial I was like... I'm never going to understand all this and it's sat on my desktop unclicked since December.

    Thank you!!!

  70. Terri: Pretty amazing, isn't it? I had no idea until I downloaded the free trial. I was immediately hooked. :-)

  71. Janet Dean: You're welcome! Be patient with yourself. At first glance, Scrivener can be overwhelming because it's so different from a standard word processor (but in a good way). Just start with the basics and you can add all the fancy stuff later. ;-)

  72. Gwen, you have a great post on your blog about 2012 Hits and Misses ...but what caught my eye was your graph. How did you track the time you spent on each of those areas?

    Here is the post for those interested.2012 Hits and Misses

  73. It really is great, Helen. I hope you'll at least give it a try. ;-)

  74. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge, Gwen. I've been wondering about Scrivener and the details you shared make it sound very worthwhile. I like the idea of being able to compile all the research notes and links right there with my WIP. At the moment, they're in a notebook beside my computer. Which I have to make sure to bring along when I'm writing somewhere else besides my desk. ☺

    Hot chocolate, anyone? It's a cold, rainy morning here, but I'm off to check into Scrivener and then on to work.

  75. Great, Nancy Kimball, you're welcome. I think the tutorial is better as an overview of what the software can do than an actual how-to lesson.

    I hope you'll give it another chance.

  76. Gwen, I must print this and work it while at the keyboard... So much info, so little time at work! But thank you so much for agreeing to be here and coach us. You have no idea how techno-unworthy I am, but this is a wonderful How-to!

    Bless you!

    I'm leaving peanut butter chocolate brownies for everyone.... Really, they will help you be SUPER SMART!!!

  77. So give me a reference point. Once a writer passes that learning curve much time do you think Scrivener saves a writer? How much time does it save you?

    What is the learning curve for a typical writing non techno person?

  78. Oooh, THANK YOU, this is wonderful. I'm seriously considering purchasing Scrivener and this is just the information I need.


  79. Tina Radcliffe: Thanks for checking out my site. I originally started keeping track of my hours and words for tax purposes (to prove to the IRS that I was actually working at this before I made any $), but it also helps keep me on track.

    I use a timer widget on my MacBook called The Daily Grind to track time spent on various tasks during the day. All those counts go on a calendar (one page/month), though you could use a spreadsheet too.

    I tally the monthly totals by category in Excel or Numbers, along with my word counts (which I also keep on the calendar), and graph them at the end of the year.

  80. Oh, this is good. This is very good. I am such a tracker person. THANK YOU!!! Must find a PC type widget.

  81. Ruth Logan Herne: You're welcome! How did you know peanut butter and chocolate is my favorite combination? ;-) Yum.

  82. Hey, fellow GH-er, Pam Hillman! You should totally buy Scrivener. Today. But then I'm a little biased. ;-)

  83. Hi Mary:

    "I find this all very frightening and a little depressing."

    If the idea of learning this software seems a little depressing, then just download Scrivener and take the tutorial that comes with the program. After a little of this, you’ll qualify for a prescription of antidepressants.

    The tutorial is just fine if you already know how to use the program but otherwise I found it totally confusing. The tutorial says it should take an hour to complete. It took me almost an hour to figure out which arrows they were talking about on the first page of the tutorial!

    Power has its price and the price is a steep learning curve. This is one course that demands a class and a Dummies book.

    I need to try this software and class because my One Word is “Rejuvenate” and this program will make me feel young again or it will kill me.

    Besides: why would you want to be any faster than you are? You are already approaching warp speed. Give us mortals a chance to maintain our self-esteem. ☺☻☺


    P.S. Tina: LearnSo is 'Learn a new software program in a month'.

  84. We actually have a lot of GHers on this blog.

    Myself x2
    Pam-x3 and winner
    Janet Dean
    Myra Johnson-winner
    Julie Lessman
    Missy Tippens
    Cara Lynn James

    Today's trivia.

  85. young again or kill me...

    LOL, Vince. That's the part I'm concerned about.

  86. Hi Gwen:

    I just want to add that it is worth the price of the software, the Dummies book and the online course just to have Scrivener format my book for the Kindle. There's no doubt about it.


  87. Hi Gwen,
    This technical stuff just about blows my head off. I know just enough to get myself into bigggggg trouble. Is there really hope for me?

  88. Gwen, looks like you're holding down the fort well!

    Glad there's lots of interest in how Scrivener can help a writer collect and store thoughts. I'm so ready for your class to begin. Looks like Seekerville might book you up, LOL!

  89. Okay
    I've heard of Scrivener but that's about it. Sounds like it has lots of cool features. I have a Mac laptop for all my graphics work and don't have a "word" program. (not enough budget to buy yet another version of Word when i've already got word on my hubby's laptop - need better justification)

    perhaps i should bite the bullet and purchase the program. i know i'd need a book for Dummies anyway. you'd think a graphic artist who works on the computer all day would be more technically savvy, but NOOOOOOOOOOO...

    i'm sort of like the Connealy in this matter.

  90. I've been thinking about taking the plunge and trying out Scrivener. You might have just given me the gentle nudge I needed. And seeing that it has a free 30 day trial (I didn't know that) I have nothing to lose, right?

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

  91. I LOVE Scrivener! I've been using it for about 5 years (and 4 novels). Took Gwen's online class in 2011 and realized I was using only the tip of the iceberg--and I still am, lol.

    I'd love to win a copy of S for Dummies. I've gone back through the classes several times, but I'd love to have it all in one easy-to-access place.

    You all are going to LOVE this program. Honest.

  92. Scrivener has a wonderful feature for formatting books to eReaders. Just knowing that feature exists is worth the program.

  93. Gwen, welcome to Seekerville.

    As I started reading your post, I thought nice, but not for me.

    By the end, you had me hooked.

    Screvener sounds like a must-have tool for any serious writer. The color-coding option and the corkboard appeal to me. Actually everything sounds great!

    I'm an Army brat and Army wife. Lived in Arlington, Alexandria and Fort Belvoir. Are you close by? Northern VA is an exciting place.

    I enjoyed returning "home" for the RWA National Conference some years ago. Hope they hold it in DC again...soon!

  94. I'm loving this back and forth... Tina, I knew it would hook you. I sat back and said, "Tina will be all over this like a rug on scarred hardwood..."

    Color me #RIGHTON!!!!!


    I'm weighing the learning curve and having one more thing to do. Balance is so tricky for writers/full-time workers. So I'm going to hesitate (not because it doesn't look marvelous and Gwen isn't totally smart, beautiful, young and convincing, which is kind of a Gibbs-smack upside the head in and of itself).... and see if you guys love it in six months.

    Yes, that's my "Thomas" side coming out!

    But I'm totally piqued....

    And glad that Gwen likes chocolate and peanut butter!


    And I have to admit -- I lean the same direction as Ruthy and Mary, but only because I am SO technically illiterate that what takes one person a day or two to learn, would take me a month. But I sooooo don't want to be one of those old ladies left behind, so I guess I'm going to have to consider it. You certainly did a great job explaining it, Gwen!


  96. Vince: Glad to hear it. It sure beats paying someone thousands to create your e-book for you!

    I agree with you that the tutorial might not be the best for *learning* the software. I think it provides a good overview of what's available, but moves pretty fast.

  97. Lyndee H: There's hope for everyone! :-)

  98. Thanks, Audra, and no problem. I'll take all comers in my classes. I only offer them twice a year, so I hate to turn anyone away.

  99. DebH: The good news is that Scrivener for Mac is only $45! That's at least half the price of Word for so much more utility.

    Tech savvy doesn't always transfer. We all have our areas of genius. ;-)

  100. Hey, Valerie Comer! *waves* Thanks for stopping by. If you don't win the book, maybe you can convince someone to buy it for a celebration. Birthday, Valentine's day, President's Day? ;-)

  101. Debby Giusti: Gotcha! I'm tricky like that. Scrivener really is amazing.

    I'm an Army/Navy brat, AF wife. Total nomad. We live in western Fairfax county right now. Love it here. For now. ;-)

    I met you once at a Southern Magic Reader's Luncheon when we were stationed in Alabama. I was a total newbie writer then (2009). And I think you were at my table for the DBC party in Anaheim last summer. We sat with Margie Lawson. If I see you in Atlanta, I'll introduce myself.

  102. Ruth: Well if you keep calling me "smart, beautiful, young and convincing" I'll just have to let the six months slide. ;-) But if everyone loves it and you don't pick it up then? Gibbs'll be back.

  103. GWEN!!!! So excited to have you in Seekerville today! I'm a proud and faithful user of Scrivener for Mac, and even though I've discovered many of its great features, I'm sure there's still so much more I could be doing with the program.

    And there's going to be an iPad version??? Can't wait! Will the file system be compatible with the Mac version so I can move back and forth between the two devices?

  104. Julie Lessman: Thanks! I hope you'll give it a try. Even a little a day...

  105. Thank you, Myra Johnson! There is going to be an iPad (iOS) version. It's due sometime this year, and my understanding is that it will be compatible. In fact, I think that's the whole point.

    I also saw in the Windows update notes that they're working on an Android phone/tablet version, but I have no idea when that's due. I think getting Windows up to parity with the Mac version has top priority from that crew.

  106. By the way, everyone. An update for the Windows version came out yesterday and it brought some features many have been waiting anxiously for. One of them is background images for full screen mode, so ignore that part in my post that says "Mac only for now".

    Another one they added is Import & Split. Yay! :-)

    If you have the Windows version and it doesn't prompt you to update next time you open it (or you don't want to close and open) go to Help-->Check For Updates. The latest version is

  107. The one thing that has kept me from downloading this is that I don't own my laptop. I have a company laptop and my wife and older son each have their own. I can't use theirs, so I need to wait until the iPad app comes out. (Granted, my lovely wife uses the iPad much more than I do, so I'd never get it that way either.)

    I'm going to have to sell a book and use the money to buy something specifically for writing.

  108. One more quick thing--until later anyway--I've had questions about where to find The Daily Grind for Mac, so here's the link:

    If I come across something similar for Windows, I'll post it.

  109. Hi Gwen

    Thank you so much for all this information.

    I have Scrivener for Windows and it's really an amazing writing tool.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    Many thanks

  110. Wow! I've heard this software mentioned from time to time, but never realized what it was, or what it did. I'm impressed. It definitely is something I will have to consider purchasing.

    Thank you for the informative post. It looks like a fun tool.

    Jodie Wolfe

  111. Well, Ruthy, you are partially,right. I avoid writing software. Often. This is the first one that has piqued my interest.

  112. You know, usually I run from programs like this because 1). I'm already computer impaired and 2) I don't have time to learn a new program. (And notice I'm still using Word 2007 because I really, really, really don't want to have to figure out how the 2010 version works).

    But the idea of keeping all my research and extra scenes and so forth organized? That sounds awesome. I save everything in folders and with file names that should make it easy for me to find an old or extra scene. But I can't tell you how many times I spend a half hour searching for old lost scenes that should be easy to find and aren't.

    How compatible is it with Track Changes in word? Because right now, it's like I would need to export my individual chapters and send them to my CP to crit, then do all the revisions in Word. Make sense?

    But you totally called it on storing your extra scenes at the bottom of a Word document. I'm currently writing pg.181 of my WIP. But my document is 190 pages long. Last nine pages are all snippets of future scenes that will get worked in eventually. I've had up to 30 extra pages of future scenes in my WIPs at times before!

  113. I would not have been able to write my novel without Scrivener, and Gwen's book made all the difference in understanding how to "customize" Scrivener for the way I think and work. Both are indispensable tools for a fiction writer.

    This blog post reminded me of some great ideas for using Scrivener--I intend to go put them to use! Thanks.


  114. OMG, you guys are practically having a party! So why did I have to work today???

    I knew I'd leave you in good hands, Gwen : )

    Okay, I'm refreshing the goodies with Arnold Palmers (for those living in warm climates) and super rich dark hot chocolate (for those in the path of the pending storm)

    Apple Strudel and Cranberry tarts for those still hungry...

    I'll be back : )

  115. Gwen! I remember...just needed to think outside the Northern VA box! The Southern Magic Readers Luncheon is one of my favorite events. Everyone is always so warm and welcoming!

    DBC with Margie Lawson. Another fun night.

    So glad you mentioned both. I'll be looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta. Should be a great conference.

    Congrats on your Scrivener how-to success! So glad you could be with us in Seekerville today!

  116. I'm in the midst of writing my fifth novel using Scrivener. I cannot imagine going back to writing in Word.

    There was a slight learning curve with the export function to get the document formatted just the way I want it, but I'm getting more proficient at exporting to RTF and from there into a Word doc that I send to my editor and agent.

    Gwen, I was looking at the classes offered on your website. Are these primarily for new Scrivener users, or do you offer anything for people like me who'd like to take fuller advantage of all the features?

  117. I always hesitate to get new software because I love the tried and true with what I'm comfortable with. I shop at the same grocery store, park on the same aisle (drives my husbands crazy and he refuses to park on the "correct" aisle) and on the same day.

    That said, Scrivener does sound interesting and might work for me.


    Oh, and please enter me into the contest.

  118. Gwen, I love Scrivener, though I'm scarcely touching its true capability. The few times I've geared up to really dig in to the tutorials, I'm always put off by the vocabulary. It's hard to know what they mean.

    You know how the instruction book for a new piece of fancy equipment includes a diagram with numbered call-outs to help you know what they mean when they say "brew selector" or "torpedo hatch" and such? I need one of those.

    Did you happen to include one in your Scriveners for Dummies book? If so, I'm off to the store this very night.

  119. Very cool! I have promised myself that when I actually finish my first book, thus proving this isn't just a whim, I will actually buy Scrivener. Or, I may just give in and get it to help me finish. :)

  120. Hi Gwen. I've bought your Dummies book and when I opened it I could only stare at the pages. My brain seized. So please put me in the draw for your class!

    Thanks so much.
    Bronwen Jones

  121. Gwen, I've been looking forward to your post. I have some questions but need to read through the comments to be sure they haven't already been answered.

    Thanks for all the info. Makes me want Scrivener more than ever -- and in time for Speedbo.

    Nancy C

  122. Gwen, Scrivener for Dummies is an outstanding resource. Thank you for writing it!

  123. Good article and my eyes still water with all the wonderful things Scrivener does. I have this tool and need the book to keep at my elbow as I work. Consider me entered in the drawing (love them!)


  124. I've wanted to get Scrivener after hearing so many things about it HERE. BTW Anne Mateer is a great salesman--I think I need the book!

  125. I discovered Scrivener during my first attempt at NaNo this past fall as a Nano 'rebel', working on my memoir. I used the trial Scrivener to organize all the bits of information and flash memories that would hit me at random moments, and as an organizer-freak, I LOVED it.

    I purchased it and have been using it to organize all my other writing projects, but still need to go through a learning curve to use it more effectively. It has truly improved my productivity and eliminated that freeze-up I would feel over all the bits and pieces and files and folders of a project.

    Glad to know there's a "Dummies" book for it! Thanks, Gwen, for that, and for the contest.

  126. Thanks so much, Gwen! I've downloaded the free trial and I'm just trying to get the hang of things. I wondered why some of those corkboard notes had colors on the corners. Will try to work with it more. I was afraid I'd wind up running screaming back to good ol' Word. This makes me think there's hope for Scrivener and me yet.

  127. Scrivener is awesome, and I know I'm not making the most of it yet. Gwen, your blog is also awesome, both for quick tips on Scrivener and broader advice about writing and life. I'm an academic writer (not so much a novelist). Yesterday's post about the need to just get into the habit, and the glorious freedom of not having to feel guilty once you've gotten your 90 minutes in, was spot on. Guilt is not good for writers (or anybody, for that matter). But scrivener is!

  128. Hi, Gwen. I love Scrivener — and I just know the basics. I'd love to get my hands on your book (or take the class).If I can do it at no cost, all the better. ;)

  129. I love Scrivener. I used it to finish up my dissertation (that would have been so much easier if I'd had it from the start), and now I'm using it to revise that into a book.

    I would benefit from a class or the book to learn more helpful tips on working with the program. I know that I don't take advantage of all of the features that could help me.

  130. I've often wondered, "What's the deal with Scrivener?" This post has answered! I'll be giving the program a second look! Thanks Gwen!

  131. I just received an email about the newest version. After reading your post I'm REALLY excited about it! Question: Would it be okay to place your post on one of the Scrivener notecards as an added tutorial tool?

  132. I'm glad Scrivener is getting so much love.

  133. Wow, I had a busy evening, and now I'm really behind. What a great crowd! Thanks everyone for commenting. For the sake of time/sanity, I'm mainly going to respond to questions so I can get caught up.

    Naomi Rawlings: Importing Word documents with Track Changes turned on doesn't work very well. What I do is refer to the comments in Word (in my case on a 2nd screen), but make the changes in Scrivener. I realize that may not work with some people's editors, so you may have to do revisions in Word if the editor needs to see where you made changes or responded to comments.

  134. There you go, Myra. Now she's going to have to add a Scrivener for Advanced Users class.

  135. Laura McClellan: Thanks for letting me know! I'm glad the book has been helpful. :-)

  136. Myra Johnson:
    My classes are pretty comprehensive. They start with the basics, but get into customizing project templates, compiling (exporting), advanced searches, collections, snapshots, keywords, references, comments/annotations/footnotes, and more. Plus, in the two extra weeks of Q&A, you can ask about anything I haven't covered.

  137. Sally Felt: I know what you mean. Take a peek inside the book before you buy, but yes, there are lots of screenshots with call outs that the art department made all nice and pretty. ;-)

  138. This comment has been removed by the author.

  139. Debby: I know, I confuse people because we move a lot. ;-) Thanks!!

  140. NJM3: Wow, thanks! Yes, I agree, guilt is not good for writers or their muses.

    Scrivener is great for academic pursuits as well. I wish I'd had it in college, and I'm hounding my boys to start using it before they head off in the next few years.

  141. I have been using Scrivener (Windows) for almost a year now and can't believe how organized everything is. Just finished reading Scrivener for Dummies - it's very well written and easy to follow. Well worth the money.

  142. Love Scrivener! It's been so easy to use with my ms.

  143. Sorry about being a phantom today. Some days are easier than others to get away and play a bit. This was not one of those easier days.

    Thanks for playing with us, Gwen. I hope you'll come and join us again.

    And thanks Seekerville for giving Gwen such a warm welcome.

    Remember to check back this weekend to see who the lucky winner is...

  144. I've been using OneNote, but I'd much prefer Scrivener, if I could figure it out. Scrivner is on my to buy list. ASAP

  145. Speedbo. That is our annual March Book in a Month Writing Spree that is held in Seekerville.

  146. What a great post! Thanks so much for introducing Gwen to us, Audra. I've had Scrivener installed on my Mac for a couple years but have yet to use it. I haven't taken time to figure it out -- it always seems faster and simpler to just open a fresh file of my familiar MSWord. But now I've printed this out and am thinking I should give Scrivener another try.

    I'd love to be entered for the giveaway.

  147. Is it too late to ask to be included in the contest for the class?


    Jackie L.

  148. Gwen, you're right, the track changes thing wouldn't work for my edits, and they wouldn't work too well for the system I have set up with my crit partner. I've found it's much quicker (like by 30%-50%) to use my crit partner's document and just accept or reject changes from there.

    But still, I don't know that it would be terrible to have my revised drafts in word and my working draft in Scriviner. I mean, right now I'm making separate documents for all of that anyway. Working draft/revised draft/chapters to go to my crit partner. And then there's all the extra scenes I have jammed into my extras folder and my proposal and all that. So maybe Scriviner would work. I might try it when I start my next story. Seeing as I have two others to finish before that happens, it'll be a while before I can try it.

    Thanks so much for this post. It was really enlightening!

  149. Oh no, oh no, oh no! I just went and looked at Scriviner, and it said it was Windows 8 compatible. I have Windows Vista. I know it's old, but remember that whole thing about me being computer illiterate? I don't plan to loose my beloved computer and have to figure out Windows 8 and the new version of Word anytime soon. Will try to set a world record for "writer using the oldest computer" if I have anything to say about it. So sad. :-( I was all geeked to try it out this summer.

    Gwen, (or anyone else) do you happen to know for certain whether Scriviner will work with an older version of Windows?

  150. Great article--I'd love to be entered in the giveaway!

    novel16 AT aol DOT com

  151. Wow, look at all these Scrivener fans! I just started using it about a week ago and I love it! The basics seem really easy, but there's a lot more to this target project thing you wrote here...I'm going to have to check that out for my next project :)

  152. Scrivener sounds fabulous! Great options. I've heard of the program, but never checked it out. Thanks for the fabulous info!

  153. Yay! Classes! I'll check them out. I'd love to win, but even if I don't I hope to attend.

    Amber S.
    Larkspur, CO

  154. Juanita P: Thanks! Glad you're finding the book helpful. :-)

  155. Naomi Rawlings:
    Scrivener works with XP, Vista, and Windows 7, they're just advertising that they're also compatible with Windows 8 because some people were worried they wouldn't be. You're fine. :-)

  156. I recieved Scriviner for Christmas. My hubby downloaded it to my PC. I found the tutorial frustrating.It didn't seem to cost effective to print off the manual and I don't do well flipping from screen to screen. I am planning on getting Scriviner for Dummies so I can have a guide at hand to better understand it and review steps. Looks great but I still have so many questions.
    Cindy Huff

  157. jubileewriter: I hope you find the book helpful!