After my beloved Mac laptop finally gave out (it was 15 years old--all of the letters were long ago worn off the keys), I got a new one. I didn't get Word. I found Pages, Mac's version of Word, to be just as frustrating as Word.
I create a lot of different documents during a rough draft--outlines, cut scenes or chapters, character bios, research documents, etc, etc, etc. With Word and Pages, this meant that I would often have many documents open at the same time--all of them competing for attention and creating an immense amount of clutter.
I always felt unorganized and pinned the responsibility on myself, thinking--maybe I need to change how I write.
The first few weeks of using Scrivener were confusing. But even from those first days, I could tell that the program was going to fit my needs--much better than Word or Pages at least. No writing software is perfect, but if feels like the Scrivener programmers sawed open my brain, studied it, and created a program just for me.
What I love most: my stuff is organized.
Instead of struggling with one long 300 page document, I can break up the novel into acts and chapters. Each chapter functions as a kind of file embedded in the larger document. Here is chapter one. The menu to select chapters/acts is on the left. On the right are tools--a summary in the upper right, status selectors in the middle, and notes on the bottom. This means my notes are right in front of me, and I don't have to go to my paper notebook or open another document and switch back and forth.
In the same master file, there is also a place to keep character bios and other needed information. For some characters, I find pictures of individuals who have similar characteristics. I can keep these photos along with text detailing their history, voice, motivations, etc.
I can also import pdf documents. One of my current WIPs takes place in a fictional city. I'm not one of those people who can keep it all straight in my head, so I create maps to stay organized and remember where things are. And look--Scrivener has a place for me to keep this as well.
One of the best parts is that I can use split screen to work on two documents at the same time. I can split screen between my WIP and map to see what landmarks the characters are passing as they walk though the city. Or, even awesomer, I can split screen between my WIP and my alpha's comments, as I've shown below. Her edits for my WIP are on the top with her comments along the side. My WIP is on the bottom. I can scroll them together and make any changes I want.
With Scrivener, I can also block out the world. It lets me go full screen, blacking out everything except the paper. In this mode, I can't see when a new email pops into my inbox or that little Safari icon beckoning me from the bottom of the screen, which I find to be very peaceful.
I'm still in the infantile stage, and I am excited to discover what else I can do. I've played with features like word frequency, name generation and the like, but I think it is the more advanced organizational features that I will find the most useful.
Anyone else out there using Scrivener? What have you liked and not liked about the software?