I know I've written a great deal about Scrivener on my blog, but really, it is one of the best programs for writers out there, and has the potential to help any writer boost their skills through organization, ease of use, and production to multiple formats. First, get the program here. It costs $49, which is much less than most word processing programs that use up tons of resources but are to my experience clunky and full of shortcomings.
1. Organization: Scrivener organizes your notes, character bios, website research, Mindnode webs and all other details into a sidebar on the left of the screen so that you can access them instantly with the click of a mouse without leaving your text. No longer do you need to go outside of the program you are using to access important research or files that you need at a moment's notice.
2. Chapter files: Scrivener has the ability to place each chapter or section of your book into individual files that can be accessed instantly with the click of a mouse from a sidebar. If you want to see what you wrote about a character in chapter 3 while writing chapter 10, you don't have to scroll back to do this, but simply click on the chapter in the sidebar
3. Scenes - Scrivener has the ability to divide individual chapters up into "scenes" which are individual files. This allows you to skip immediately to a scene in the text without having to scroll through or look at your outline and hope you followed it. You can instantaneously jump to any labeled scene in the margin to battle those pesky continuity errors. Scrivener will also collapse all the scenes together so that you can see the flow of the narrative.
4. Note Cards - Each scene or segment of your document take the form of note cards which, with the click of a button, can be filled with an automated summary of the text in that scene or segment.
5. Cork Board View - Once I have written each of the scenes within each chapter, I can view the entire text or each chapter in a "cork board" view that looks like a literal cork board with index cards that represent each scene. I can then move them around in the order I desire and they will then be ordered that way in the text.
6. Keywords - This feature allows the writer to use a key word like a character's name or an object or place name to put scenes together in a continuous format so that the character's actions throughout the novel can be modified without all that scrolling and searching. This insures that every instance of the mention of the word is found within the document.
7. Making Notes - In a toolbar at the right of my text, I can make any notes on the text I like. I can reference websites, connect character bios, make any notes that I have about the text that I would like to come back and change later, and any ideas I might have about changing the style or anything else I choose to list.
8. Snapshots - At any moment, I can take a snapshot of the entire text as is so that if I make any changes later I can then return to the snapshot I took without saving the file in a more formal manner. This is very handy if I want to follow a tangent to its end only to find that it was a lost cause. This function has saved me hours of back tracking.
9. Metadata - Any scene or text within the document can be listed as a first draft, second draft, third draft or final copy using a color coded system in a pull down menu to the right of your text. This organizes my revisions so I know what I have done and what I need to do in the future to complete my project.
10. Versatility of Finished Product - Once you are ready to compile the document into a finished text, you have nearly limitless options at your disposal. The list of options for formatting are as follows: paperback novel for Createspace, proof copy, synopsis outline, e-book, non-fiction manuscript format, and many others. You may then print to your printer or save as a pdf, rich text, or even a .mobi file perfectly formatted for Amazon Kindle complete with a table of contents linked menu.
I hope that this post will be a selling point for many writers out there who are struggling to get their novel written. This program has given me the organizational drive to complete many projects that had otherwise occupied space on my hard drive until now.
Good technology is supposed to make our lives easier, and Scrivener has definitely made writing long and complex novels a much easier job for me. It is my hope that the program will do the same for you.