I am usually not one for using writing tools. I have learned to do really well in Microsoft Word. I have a system for revision and backup that I’m happy with, and I’ve seen some “revolutionary” writing tools really mess up other people’s manuscripts.
However, I’ve heard really good things about Scrivener, and since an introductory price of $36 would not break the bank. I decided to give it a shot. Just for the record, this isn’t a full review, this is just a collection of thoughts I had after downloading the program.
The first thing you see when opening Scrivener is the option to create a project from a template. I created a “tutorial” project, and was greeted by a Scrivener document telling me how to make Scrivener documents. I looked at this for five minutes before getting bored.
I decided to start by importing a small project, an article I’m doing on Electronic Voice Phenomena I’m doing for ParABnormal magazine. Scrivener parsed my Word document perfectly. Then, I used Scrivener to break down the article into logical sections.
After that was done, I wanted to see how Scrivener put things back together again. First, I tried “Export” off the file menu. I don’t know what it does, because it consistently errors out on my three page composition. Next, I tried a custom compile. I was much happier with this feature. You can tell scrivener how to transition between your sections–everything from a like break to a page break with a new header, and includes several options for manuscript formatting, such a straitening quotation marks, and replacing the ellipses character with three periods. After a little finagling, I was able to re-compile the document to its original appearance.
I decided to move on to research. The research section allows you to create a type of note called “website.” So, I excitedly typed in one of my sources, expecting A) the web page would cache locally with all the graphics and formatting, or B) a link that would launch the local web browser. I got C) a paged of text rendered from the homepage of the website, which was mostly legal disclaimer and credits, with no pictures or formatting. Then I created a generic text note, named it “websites”, and pasted in the site address.
This pretty much covers my first hour with scrivener. I don’t know if I’ll keep at it or not, but after getting my feet wet, I think I’m ready to try some of the video tutorials on their site. Then, I actually have an article to finish. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up if I find anything interesting.