Writers: Is Scrivener worth it?

12/05/2016 Discussions, Writing 12

Writers: Is Scrivener Worth it?

I read a lot of writer and author blogs, and one piece of software that continually crops up as a ‘must-have’ for writers, is Scrivener. Whilst it’s essentially just a word processor, it has a range of features that really enhances it for writers (particularly those writing books) which may account for the pretty hefty price tag: Scrivener retails at £34.99 in the Apple Store here in the UK.

Intrigued, I decided to download the 30 day free trial offered by Literature and Latte (the company that makes it), to see what it was all about, and whether it’s worth paying so much for what is essentially a word processor.

The upshot is, I absolutely love Scrivener, and am now majorly tempted to buy it once my free trial runs out! There are just so many useful features (and I certainly haven’t discovered all of them yet!), so I thought I’d do a quick run down of the ones that I think make Scrivener worth the price tag, and I’d love to know whether or not you like Scrivener, or think it would be useful if you’ve never tried it (and I seriously recommend that you download the free trial if you’ve never used it before!).

So here’s what I liked about Scrivener:

You create Projects, not Document

Writers: Is Scrivener Worth it?The main attraction of Scrivener over the likes of Microsoft Word or Pages is the ability to create ‘Projects’, as opposed to single documents. When working on a big project such as a novel, it can get pretty confusing and frustrating having all your chapters and notes strewn around your Documents folder, and so with Scrivener’s Projects you can have all of them in the same place, and are able to flick through them all with ease.

You can also easily separate the material you want included in the actual draft of the manuscript, and the research which you want easy access to, but don’t want included.  For example, with the novel I’m writing, I have easy access to my character profiles and the random fragments of the novel I have already written for later in the story, but they won’t be included in the actual manuscript because they are in a separate folder.

Split screen modeWriters: Is Scrivener Worth it?

Another way that Scrivener can be super helpful to writers who want to refer to their research or outlines as they write is through the split screen mode. For example, in the image on the right, I have the section of my novel that I’m writing open at the top, with the character outline for the character who I’m writing about open at the bottom, which is immensely helpful!

Writers: Is Scrivener Worth it?Easy formatting of Screenplays, Lyrics etc.

When you start a new Scrivener project you can choose from a range of templates including fiction, non-fiction, scripts, poems and lyrics, meaning you can easily format your work, whatever it is you’re planning to write. Personally, I’ve mostly been using the blank template, as it sets you up with a simple Draft and Research folder, but it’s nice to have other options!

Distraction-free writing

Surprisingly, one of the things I’ve found that I like most about Scrivener is one of the simplest: the ‘Compose’ function. When in Compose mode you simply have the white page you’re writing on down the centre of the screen, with a plain black background behind.

Writing in this mode means less distractions, and I found myself getting a lot more done by using it as I don’t have easy access to all the icons and programs on my computer. Compose mode for me has become ‘writing mode’, and I seem to get really in the zone when I use it. This probably won’t be the main attraction to Scrivener for most writers (and I know you can get other, cheaper programs to do this), but it’s handy to have nonetheless. Writers: Is Scriveners worth it?The Corkboard

One of the main things that separates Scrivener from other word processors is how easy it is to get an overview of your project. For each section that you write you can create a quick synopsis, and then view the entire project from the Corkboard.

Project Statistics

AWriters: Is Scrivener Worth it?nother thing I liked with Scrivener was having access to my ‘Project Statistics’, which allows you to not only see the Word Count and Character Count of the section you’re working on, but also the entire draft. I also particularly loved being able to see not only how many A4 pages my project would be printed out, but also how many pages of a regular paperback book it would be. As Scrivener is used by so many writers to write their books it’s pretty handy to know how long your book would be in paperback as you go along.

The draft of the novel I’m currently working on for example is 7,959 words so far, and would be 28 A4 pages and 22 pages in a paperback book (so obviously I still have a long way to go!).

Project Targets

Sometimes writers need goals to motivate them and Writers: Is Scrivener Worth it?really push them to get writing, and Scrivener makes this easy with its ‘Project Targets’. Through Project Targets you can set yourself both Draft Targets and Session Targets.

Your Draft Target is how many words you’re aiming for the completed project to be, and your Session Target is how many words you’d like to write per session. It’s basically like having a little NaNoWriMo built into your word processor!

Easy conversion to ebook format

This is one function of Scrivener I obviously haven’t used yet, but is definitely very useful for anyone writing a book, especially if they’re considering self-publishing. It can cost a lot of money to have a manuscript formatted into an ebook ready for upload to retailers such as Amazon, and so despite the price of having to buy Scrivener, you could save a lot of money in the long run by being able to do this for yourself.

Scrivener has tonnes more features that could come in useful for writers, but these are the ones that really make me tempted to buy the software. So do you use Scrivener? If so, what features do you find the most useful, and do you think it’s worth the price tag? If not, are you tempted, or do you think it isn’t worth the money?

12 Responses to “Writers: Is Scrivener worth it?”

  1. Pamela

    I think Scrivener is worth every penny. The thing I like the most about it is the ability to split the MS in as many smaller text documents. So I can divide it into chapters, scenes… This has made my prone-to-ignore-outlines self very happy because the MS itself IS my outline. I create all the texts and fill in the notes parts for what I want to happen in each one. It’s a very dynamic way of doing it and I love it!

    • Laura

      That sounds like a really good way of doing it! I’m terrible with outlines myself, so I may have to give that technique a try. Scrivener really is useful in so many ways! 🙂

  2. Blaise

    I am a huge fan of Scrivener–I use it for a variety of things–and it was fascinating to see the Mac version of it. Two features I particularly enjoy that I don’t see here are the name generator, which has a massive count of names as well as meanings and origins, and the info-master thing on the right (I forget what it’s actually called and can’t check right now). I like that you can flag your documents as drafts or to be revised, that you can color-code them according to your own system, and that you can add notes to yourself about the sections without sticking them in the summary. Outline mode is really useful for me, too, so I can see it linearly as well as in the corkboard format (which I am more likely to use to move thing’s around).

    Basically, I love Scrivener and I personally feel it is worth the money. If you’re strapped for cash, though, NaNoWriMo offers winners a discount for it almost every year. (If you want to wait that long.)

    • Laura

      I hadn’t actually seen the name generator feature, so that’s super useful to know about! I’ll be sure to check that out. The colour-coding also isn’t something I’ve used yet, but I can see when I want to start revising, it could be really useful to flag certain sections that need rewriting, or looking over again.
      From what I’ve seen of the trial, it definitely does seem worth the money. I may see if I can just find some general discount codes around on the internet. It has come in so useful I’m not sure I can wait until the end of November! 🙂

  3. Lola

    I’ve heard of a few authors who use Scrivener and love it. It sure sounds promising from what you mention here. Word works fine for most things, but for projects like a book having everything in one place and being able to easily switch between them sounds really handy. That statistics section looks neat. Glad to hear it’s so helpful for you and it sure sounds like it’s worth the money.

    • Laura

      Yeah, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s a little pricey, but definitely worth it for larger projects like books!

    • Laura

      I agree – it does take a while to learn how to use Scrivener, but it’s definitely worth learning, because it’s such a useful program.

  4. Jee Ann @ The Book Tales

    I’ve always been tempted to try Scrivener. That feature on formatting for uploading on retailers is really important. But the only thing keeping me from actually using it is that I won’t be able to use it on my tablet or other gadgets. I usually write in Google Docs so that I can access it anywhere.

    • Laura

      Yeah, that’s definitely a downside of Scrivener – there isn’t too many features that make it accessible from anywhere. Personally I would love an app so I can work on my book in my lunch break at work on my phone, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  5. Rakesh Nair

    Scrivener is really an amazing tool for any writer; ordered, very few bugs and focused. I use it for writing linear stories (a free software ‘Bibisco’ is also a good alternative if you find the Scrivener price tag hefty). For branching stories I use Twine 2 as no other software can do branching much efficiently. Really want Scrivener to have that functionality too.

    • Laura

      I’ve never heard of Twine 2, so I’ll have to check that out! Scrivener is great for plotting and organizing your chapters and things, but for more complex stories I imagine it’s better to have dedicated software for that. Thanks for the recommendations! 🙂

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