I write with Scrivener, too


Charles Stross blogged about writing a novel in Scrivener and I thought it was an interesting read. Okay, I skimmed the part where he talked about LaTeX because Jesus, what the hell is that even and I pretty much don’t need to know.

Anyway, he’s right about many things: there is no way to do the track changes thing that people use MSWord for. That means I either have to a) switch over to Scrivener to type out all the changes I want to accept in MSWord, or b) import the edited Word document into a new Scrivener project (or into the old project, which I haven’t done because .scriv files are already HUGE), or c) accept that the .scriv file will not be the most recent file.

I’ve been doing a) which is annoying but feels satisfying, too, like keeping a tidy desk.

Also, I don’t have the same issues with the compiling process. Yes, there’s a helluva learning curve. Yes, it’s annoying as hell. Still, with enough trial-and-error I was able to create a handful of very clean epub files, without any hand-coding at all.

The floating word count window? AWESOME. I seriously love it, especially the way I can set a due date for the draft and it will tell me how many words I have to do per day to make that goal. I can even go in and mark certain days of the week as non-writing days. That’s good. I wrote about that some time ago: You can see the progress bar in this screen cap post.

Something else I like is that I can import web pages into the research section. I can dl the Wikipedia page for “Pansy Craze” or “Samurai” then while I’m writing (my internet is always disabled when I write) I can easily

Finally, one thing Charlie doesn’t mention is one of my favorite things: Custom Meta-data. See, when I was writing the Twenty Palaces books, I drove myself to exhaustion trying to keep track of what Ray had in his pockets: Did he have money? How much? Did he still have a gun? Whose was it? Had he stolen a car? What make again?

It was crazy-making and involved a lot of tedious fact-checking back through the book. But! With Custom Meta-data I could easily make a line for “Money” and keep track. Or “Gun”

In Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts, I used Custom Meta-data to keep track of the two protagonists’ time lines. (They diverge late in the book.) That’s the sort of thing that drove me to distraction in earlier work.

Anyway, Scrivener is way too complicated, but I just ignore all those complicated parts I don’t need, just the way I did with MSWord back in the day. Plus, I’ve figured out the search thing that used to make me nuts.

I’m still working on the first draft for King Khan, and I swear that progress bar thing is really helping my productivity (not to mention the easy access I have to the synopsis). Yesterday’s word count was 3.3K which is huge for me, and today’s was 4K, which is unthinkable. So, you know, pleased.