Personally, if I wasn’t outlining electronically, I would go for the spreadsheet-like format (although it only gives you 2 degrees of freedom, I wouldn’t be able to cope with a looser organisation). I’d be interested in seeing how some of these would look electronically – Scapple and Aeon Timeline would be my choices.
I’ve stumbled across two fantastic blog posts over the last couple of days – both about Scrivener’s place in the editing process.
I think both cases are valid: David’s is argued from the point of view that editors will invariably use Word; Jamie’s from the point of view of someone who understands this, but would rather manage the whole process in Scrivener.
The example Jamie cites is for a 12 scene work; his process of copying from Word into Scrivener seems viable for a work of this size. David’s example has over 100 scenes and I wouldn’t want to be copying and pasting between the applications for a work of that magnitude.
What do you think about these two different approaches to the editing process? What do you do? Please feel free to leave a comment.
In a previous post I mentioned that I was starting to use Scrivener to manage the authoring of larger documents. (By larger, I mean anything that you have to think about and structure – regardless of it’s actual word count, I guess.)
I’ve just finished using it to create a document (2000 words) and I have had a really good experience.
I started, as I always do, with a mind map (MindManager) of what I wanted to write, and used this as the basis for the structure of my Scrivener project. As I was going through the process of writing the sections, I messed around with the structure so that it made more sense on paper – the mind map was structured (categorised) in a different way to how I wanted the information to appear in the document. Fortunately, this is really easy in Scrivener. Actually, ‘fortunately’ isn’t the right word, since Scrivener’s USP is that you can do just this – create your document as a series of snippets and then move them around to your heart’s content.
Once I had the (empty) structure, I used the cork board view to add synopses to the various sections of the document. I think this was the only time I made use of this view, though I can see how it would be used more for creative writing projects. Or maybe my document was just too small for me to need to go back there.
Things I found really useful were:
- The split screen. I had a horizontal split with the outline view of the document in the top part. The bottom part contained the document or section (as a scrivenings view) that I was working on.
- Word count targets. If you have a feel for how much you want or need to write, being able to set targets is great. How ‘well’ you are doing is shown in the outline view and you can set growl notifications if you are really going for it (or don’t have a split screen in order to reduce distractions).
- It saves your work. I know that this is the OS X Lion way of the future, but not many apps yet support it. Scrivener supported it pre-Lion and it’s nice not to have to worry about it (another distraction removed).
I found it really refreshing to be able to see the structure and the content easily. And I can’t stress enough how natural and easy it was to move items around.
The only area I was let down was with the finishing. But this is not scrivener’s fault. Scrivener is designed for ‘serious’ writers – of books, scripts, etc – and it’s formatting options (called compiling options, in Scrivener) are geared to the creation of proof copies, final copies for publishing, ebooks etc. In the end I created a custom compile and output as RTF. If I’m going to seriously use this application (and I’m fairly sure that I will) then I’ll need to come up with some document templates and compilation options of my own.
The manual is second-to-none and I would also recommend “Writing a Novel with Scrivener” [Kindle Edition] by David Hewson, which is very readable and useful.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say about Scrivener in the future but, for the time being, that’s all. If you’ve found this post useful, or wish to add your experiences to mine, please leave a comment.
Over the years I’ve tried many methods and tools to help me do things better. Most recently I’ve been concentrating on ‘Getting Things Done’ (GTD), which I’ve found to be very beneficial in managing my time (and, well, getting things done). I use the Pomodoro technique to time box my activities during the working day and use tools such as Evernote and Flipboard to manage my thoughts and information streams.
Where I’ve not yet found a suitable solution is when it comes to writing. And here I mean medium-to-large, structured documents, be they blog posts, reports or whatever. Up until now I have been using mind maps to help organise my thoughts but I find that I tend to become trapped in the structure I originally lay these thoughts down in. I’ve been looking for something more specific to the writing process and have discovered Scrivener.
I initially gravitated towards Scrivener because of its separation of content and format, the benefit being that you can concentrate on the words and structure of the document without unnecessary formatting getting in the way. It also has a full screen mode whereby you can completely immerse yourself in the job at hand without distraction, though this, along with pretty much everything else, is completely customisable.
I’m very impressed with the User Manual that comes with the application – I’ve nearly read it end-to-end and will have to go back and re-read some of it, but it’s easy to locate specific information, and so works well as a reference.
The range of formatting available is also comprehensive; it comes with a number of templates for screenplays, scripts, and a host of other formats; and can output in HTML, RTF, for input into other writing / publishing applications, and also ebook and mobi formats for iPad/Kindle etc. And, obviously, you can modify existing templates or create your own.
As of now, I don’t have a lot of experience with it, so I may be singing it’s praises a little too early, but I’ve started a couple of projects with it and I am finding it a lot better than previous methods I’ve used. I’ve installed the Index Card app on my iPad and have been synchronising my writing across to it when I’m away from my laptop computer – great for train journeys – and this is working well for me.
Scrivener is a Mac-only application (beta versions for windows/linux here), so it’s not going to be the solution for everyone, but I’m hopeful that it’s the solution for me.
Update – 17th August 2011
There’s a follow-up post here with the results of my first end-to-end use of scrivener.