Scrivener is the Pantser’s Tool

When I write, I’m all over the place.  I might work on Scene 15, then hop back to Scene 4 to add something that ties into Scene 15.  Then I change the gender of a character, so I have to hop through five scenes and correct the name and the gender.

In Microsoft Word, this was awful.  Scroll back through 5 or even 10 pages to find the right section is not too bad—but 75 pages?  Two hundred?

It starts to get pretty unwieldy.

When Scrivener came out with its beta for Windows, I signed right up as a tester.  I’d checked out most of the writing programs around at the time.  Some of them seemed not to really understand writers at all, and others tried to force the writer to fit in with a process of writing.

Like outlining.

I don’t outline (the pantser thing), so a program that required me to outline to use it was, really, a complete waste of time.  I suppose those programs were designed by people who couldn’t conceive that there might be multiple ways to approach writing process.

But Scrivener did.  It’s one of those tools that’s designed so that you can use the parts you want, and ignore the parts that don’t work for you.  An outliner can use the corkboard to keep track of their scenes, while I can happily ignore that.

And if I realize I need to hop back ten scenes, it’s a couple of clicks.

One of the best things though is that I can put one scene in one file.  It’s still part of the whole, but now I can focus on just one scene.  If I realize I need to add a scene or move the one I just wrote, it’s super easy.  In Word, that was always a big frustration because the document was so unwieldy.

The best thing the tools should do is let you write.

4 thoughts on “Scrivener is the Pantser’s Tool

  1. Pearl R. Meaker

    I used Scrivener for my first two books and part of my third. I had a problem that I thought was with Scrivener but turned out to be my hard drive going bad. I had to shift to using Word to finish book three and for right now, even though I have a new hard drive, I’m using Word for book four mostly to see if I like working that way.

    I don’t jump around, unless I’m forced to by needed rewrite and revision work. I write in consecutive order. In both Scrivener and Word I do every chapter as a separate unit/document so going back and forth when I need to isn’t a bother. Then I either used the compile feature in Scrivener or copy/paste chapters into one document in Word. The latter is a bother, but it does work.

    Scrivener is a wonderful program, in large part for the reason you give – it let’s each writer work their way – and I’m quite likely to return to it during or after writing my fourth book.

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  2. spiralwriter

    A friend told me about Scrivener while I was writing my second novel and going crazy with my emerging habit of jumping around in the narrative. What a huge difference! That ability to have individual scenes truly freed me as a writer. My speed and confidence increased exponentially. I still use Word for short stories, but one of my hints that a story will be novella length or longer is when I want to put it into Scrivener instead. 🙂

    Another tool that seems like a natural for plotters that suits me incredibly well is Aeon Timeline. I rarely plot anything ahead, but I find it invaluable for putting my events into a visible timeline. I can also use it to see where too much time may be passing in the story, or where one character may need more time onstage. I even used it yesterday to figure out where in American history my work-in-progress is set. So much fun!

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    1. I really like the individual scene feature, too. Sometimes I come up with one that doesn’t quite fit where I thought it does, but it’s easy to move to a different place in a story. Do that in Word … evil things happen.

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