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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Brianne

11 Reasons Why I Use Scrivener

My first word processor came in the form of text-edit on the rainbow Macintosh laptop that my father gifted me when I was 8. Ol’ Lappy didn’t do much but it was able to help me draft my first story ideas and play some old games. Dr. Brain, Carmen Sandiego, the works. That text-edit application didn’t get me far though.

My next word processor was Pages and, while it was a step up from text-edit, it still didn’t offer all that much. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. I was a die-hard pages fan, and it took me years to accept that my school only accepted Microsoft Word documents. I wrote the very first draft of Constantine Capers: The Pennington Perplexity (beginning to end) in Pages. I even had the document password (and later fingerprint) protected. Pages served me well.

Then came a beautiful day. The day I met Scrivener. Scrivener is a word processing software designed for authors, screenwriters, and editors. It is a beautiful gem that I did not know I was missing.

Now, it isn’t for everyone. Currently, Scrivener goes for about $50 on Literature and Latte’s website. I got it on sale for $35. There’s a free trial you can test drive, but beware;

You might like it so much you don’t get through the 30 days and immediately buy it. Alternatively you can "win" Nanowrimo. Often Scrivener will give coupons to those who write 50,000 words in the month of November.

So what’s so great about Scrivener? Here are my top 11 features (in no particular order) that make Scrivener stand out from other word processors.

1. Research

Oh no! I’m halfway through this scene and I can’t remember if lipstick was actually worn during the 1880s. If I stop to research, I’ll probably get caught up in social media or spend half of my writing time on Youtube. Or I’ll go so far down the rabbit hole that I don’t remember what I was researching in the first place!

This is a major issue for me. I like things to be accurate, even if it’s fictional. I research things extensively. Now, Scrivener won’t help you find pieces of research per-say, but if will help you keep track of the research you’ve already done, and let you access it with the Wifi off. No chance of getting distracted now! Except for the google no-wifi dinosaur game…..but that’s on you.

You have your research folder, you add your websites to it by clicking “Add” and then “Import Web Page,” and BAM you’ve got access to the most important (or trivial) details for your novel. Now you can track the phases of the moon during the month your novel takes place to make sure that you describe the moonlight properly when your detectives go gallivanting at night, and you don’t have to use an internet browser to do so. Everything is in one place!

2. Character names

Similarly to researching, character names can often distract me. A new character just showed up in the park? Let’s name him! I go hunting on baby name sites and Now, there isn’t anything wrong with that. In fact, I still like to use Fantasy Names to find names for all sorts of things. But there is always the possibility of getting distracted!

But, if you turn your Wifi off and the google dinosaur laughs at your futile attempts to research names, you can still find character nomenclature through Scrivener! Go to Edit, Writing tools, and there you’ll find the Name generator. You can specify the gender or culture that the name comes from, rarity, or even find alliterative names. Definitely helpful for when a pesky accidental character pops up.

3. Folders/Templates

Organization is amazing. And Scrivener lets you organize things like crazy. In Pages, I would have to scroll for forever to get to where I left off, and I’d have to search for chapter headings to move back and forth. Effective? Yes. Efficient? No.

In Scrivener, you can organize separate documents for every chapter and access them easily in the binder on the side. You can select multiple documents to view them in sequence or select the whole folder of documents in order to read your whole manuscript together.