I downloaded the free 30-day trial of Scrivener to see how it might help me in organizing and composing my next novel (no, I haven’t started on it…pooh on those 2016 goals–but I still have plenty of time!).
First loading it up, everything was foreign and overwhelming. Imagine loading up Microsoft Word for the first time, but with more features and less intuitive interface (note–it’s not a good thing to compare Scrivener with Word, since they are basically meant for different tasks).
To give you a better idea of how confusing it is at first, let me tell you that I consider myself a pretty tech-savvy type of guy. I was raised on DOS, for crying out loud, and even that seemed easy enough for me to get a basic understanding of using some quick guides and trial-and-error. I even went through a MS QuickBASIC programming phase when I was twelve. I’m no dummy, in other words (even if Windows 8 makes me feel that way–Linux is easier to use than that garbage!). I’m not the type of person who has often needed to consult help files, but I knew if I was going to get anywhere with this, I needed something.
Fortunately, Scrivener comes with a built-in tutorial that is thorough enough to get you started and make you confident of your knowledge (but I realized as I finished the tutorial that there is so much more it can do that I haven’t discovered yet since I haven’t started using it for my own projects).
I just finished the tutorial today. I am totally stoked about this program (you can tell I started using computers in the late 90s since I still say “program” instead of “app” most of the time). All the time I wasted writing my first novel copy/pasting to re-order sections and having to re-number every single chapter over and over when I would cut or add content is enough to convince me that I need Scrivener. And being able to reorder your chapters with ease is only scratching the surface of its capability! You can reformat your entire manuscript with nearly limitless possibilities, according to whatever formatting requirements you have to deal with! I can hardly wait to start using it, and I will certainly pay the measly $45 to extend the trial to the full licensed product (the features stay the same when going from the trial to the licensed program; the difference is that the unlicensed trial expires after 30 days). Forty five dollars?!? I paid more than that on a dated version of Office for Mac!
The only concern I have is how well it converts from its native formatting to Word. I’ve read that you have to be consistent in your structuring, and if you do that, it should be a pretty smooth transition. But we’ll see. Otherwise, I’m totally onboard with this. I will be writing my next novel in Scrivener. I’ll let you know how it goes.
As of right now, though I haven’t started using it other than completing the tutorial, I would recommend this product, with one disclaimer: download the free version and go through the tutorial before you buy it. It isn’t for everyone. I would also go as far to say that if you only are writing short stories, while there is a lot of useful stuff in the flexible formatting features when you compile a project, I’m not convinced it’s really worth the money until you are writing longer, chapter-based projects. But it’s up to you if you want to get it for short works alone. Whatever you do, you have the opportunity to try it free for 30 days to decide whether you like it or not, without even entering any payment info, and that seems like a no-brainer to me. I would definitely take advantage of that rather than buying it up front and finding out that you don’t like it or it’s not worth the trouble of learning to use.
Also, as of this writing (3/2/2016), nobody from Scrivener has ever contacted me, provided me with any free products, or even knows that I exist (not that I wouldn’t appreciate any handouts, if any of you Literature and Latte people are reading this). I’m only posting this because I think other writers might be interested in this and would benefit from my recommendation. Check it out, it’s free for 30 days! if you don’t like it, you don’t even have to cancel anything, it just cancels itself unless you opt in.
As for me, I’m opting in.
PS – I’m still not sure how to pronounce “scrivener.” Is it a long i or a short i sound?
UPDATE (3/3/16): It’s a short i.