As you know, Bob, I decided to experiment with using the writing tool Scrivener for my latest round of revisions on my novel Quantum Coin. It has been a long time since my last post on this topic, mainly because I was trying to finish revisions before my manuscript turned into a pumpkin. I didn’t quite make it, but it turns out, the draft looks pretty good in orange, so it’s all good. We’ll see if my editor agrees, or if he’s just going to give me a good recipe for pumpkin pie, which I don’t mind, because I like pie. (Mmm… pie.) Happily, while I wasn’t writing about Scrivener, I was using Scrivener. To cut to the chase, I can say I’m definitely a proponent of Scrivener. I’m not yet in the cult, but I’m looking over the literature. The Kool-Aid has been served, and I’m considering taking a sip. (more…)
Tag Archive: revising
My friend Kris, a happy user of Scrivener, once told me that the way I organized my novel was like “a low-tech version” of the software. Now that I’ve played with some of its features, I know she was absolutely right.
So this is how I normally write my novels, which may sound quite bizarre to some of you:
- Every chapter gets its own folder, eg. Ch01_QuantumCoin_drafts
- Every time I work on a file, I give it a different file name, such as chapter_one_050411.doc. I’ll usually only work on a document once a day, but if I revisit it multiple times, I start adding letters to the end, a la the naming conventions for Federation starships. (chapter_one_050411A = NCC-1701-A). I usually end up with one to four files per chapter, which might be excessive, but gives me peace of mind. In the event of a corrupt file, I can rollback to the previous document, and I can always revert to a previous draft if I need to.
- While writing, I note details about each chapter in a table (in another Word doc) that looks basically like this:
|Crazy stuff happens||Make this chapter better|
First things first: I had to download and install the latest beta version of Scrivener, 0.2.3. If you visit the site, you’ll note that this version expires on May 30, 2011. This is one of the details that unnerves some Windows users, not so much because of the hassle, but because no one relishes the prospect of upgrading software in the middle of a project. There’s the potential to lose some or all of your work, and who wants to risk that? I’ll say this though: a) it’s great that the developers are constantly fixing bugs, engaging with users directly, and improving this software on a regular basis, and b) if you’re really afraid, I believe you can continue using the older version if you want, though that means accepting all of its flaws for the duration of your project.
I did, in fact, run into some trouble at this early stage. I wasn’t sure if Scrivener would update my existing version when I installed the new one. The answer is no. I had to manually uninstall the last version I had, 1.55, but instead I accidentally uninstalled the wrong one three times. (Granted, this is user error, but in my defense, “1.55” seems newer than “0.2.3”, no? And the older version was only named “Scrivener Beta” in my Program Files while the new one is simply “Scrivener.”) And when I finally got it right, all of the bits didn’t get properly removed. Eventually I cleaned up the mess through Windows Control Panel. When I face the next upgrade, I’ll have to look into the proper steps to make sure I don’t accidentally delete something important. Such are the perils of beta software, though we all know that any program has its quirks and bugs. *cough* Microsoft *cough*
Many of the writers I know are vocal supporters of the writing software Scrivener. Until fairly recently, it was only available for Macs, which was a big deterrent to me because I prefer PCs. (Many of the writers I know are also vocal Apple supporters, but that’s a whole separate matter; I know could adapt to the Mac operating system easily with practice, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to their keyboards.)
Over the years, I’ve briefly sampled some of the other writing software programs out there that were supposed to mimic Scrivener on PCs, but they were all lacking. So when the Windows beta version of Scrivener was finally released last November, there was much celebration. I was still curious about the program, but suddenly hesitant to try it out. Some fans of Scrivener border on a cultlike devotion, and I didn’t want to become dependent on one piece of software to write my novels. I also needed to make sure that my work is fully compatible between different computers, more or less. At the time, I was primarily drafting on my 7″ Asus Eee PC netbook in Open Office, and writing and editing on my larger laptop at home in Word, so if I were to use Scrivener, it had to run on both Windows and Linux platforms–or I would face the joys of manually syncing up my files with Scrivener every day, which seemed to defeat the point.
However, I was open to change, so I downloaded the beta and installed it on my then-new Windows 7 laptop, and soon discovered that my concerns were moot because… It didn’t work. I tried to create a new Scrivener project and was promptly informed that it was incompatible with the current version. Huh? I tried it with a new install with the same result, and kind of gave up on it after that.
But I kept hearing about other happy Windows users, not to mention Mac users, creating bestselling novels on an hourly basis thanks to Scrivener–and by the way, did you know that it does dishes too?–so I figured it warranted another shot. This is that shot: I plan to use the process of revising my YA novel Quantum Coin as an opportunity to see what Scrivener can do for me and my book, and I’ll blog the results for other people who are thinking of taking the plunge and investing time (and eventually money) in the software.
A teaser for my next post in this series: We’re off to a good start, because this time the program at least works on my computer!