Getting familiar with Scrivener.

Scrivener. I got this writing tool a while back but did not start using it for real until I got myself a MacBook Air. This was mostly because on my Windows machine the text was blurry, not sure why. On my Mac it’s not. Anyways, since I started using it as my main writing software I have gotten somewhat familiar with it and unlike most users (I think?) I use it for writing stage plays. The feeling I have is that Scrivener is primarily designed for writing novels but works really well for plays too and all the tools you have at your disposal for outlining and writing is pretty good.

I come from the desktop version of Celtx (also used Final Draft) but since they have stopped woking on/developing it and now focusing only on their web-version I have lost interest as I do want my software to be local on my computer and I do not like monthly fees. I can’t really say I miss Celtx now that I have gotten used to Scrivener. All the tools I used previously is also available in Scrivener. The Binder, once understood together with the compile-function is really handy and it’s really simple to organize a script and keep track of the story, regardless what type of script you are writing.

This is how I use the Corkboard-feature. And as you probably noticed, this is the latest version of Scrivener.

I am a fairly simple user: Corkboard; a few text documents such as Title Page, Settings and Characters; a folder for each act with it’s scenes in a separate document inside the respective folder. And that’s pretty much it. The labels I use is Other, Act, Scene and the Statuses I use is To do, First Draft, Revised Draft, Final Draft and Done. Pretty straight forward and simple. For each scene I add a small synopsis and if needed a short note, which by the way is awesome that they are always visible even if you enter the actual document and not having to go back and forth between the corkboard and the document. When it comes to the Compile-function I either compile to a PDF or for print, and since I use very little extra documents and folders it’s a simple process as I only include Title Page, Settings, Characters and the actual scenes, all with page-break. In that order.

I do not use the pre-made folder called Characters when writing a play. I have no need for it. Instead I create a new text document called the same and just add the names of the characters along with a short description. For me when it comes to descriptions of characters in a play I am not that interested in writing a detailed description of him/her. For a novel I understand the importance and usefulness of a specialized document with all the history, background and goals and all that. When it comes to a play I want the dialogue to present the character and open up for interpretation, for the actor, the director and the costume and make-up department. A description of a character can look something like this: “insane and lack orientation of what’s real and not. Becomes schizophrenic and violent. Is an actor.” Sure, that says quite a lot about the character but nothing about appearance, age, habits etcetera. And I tend to keep it just like that.

When it comes to fullscreen writing mode I tend to forget it’s there. I am okay with that, writing in the regular window works fine and as I mentioned above, having notes and synopsis’s readily available and always visible is awesome. I kind of loose track of what direction I want the scene to head when I get into a writing session. I would have liked to have the “always keep the active line in center” in the regular window too, a very nifty feature.

Overall I am very happy with Scrivener and more so now with the latest version. It’s cheap compared to other softwares but does not crap down on features, it adds rather. It might have a steeper learning curve than others but once you have getting used to it all it is truly a fully fledge word processing software for all kinds of writers out there.

Oh and by the way, if you wish to self publish, there is a feature in the compile-settings with allows you to create a file suitable for print and e-books.

 

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Author: Alaska Frank

Alaska Frank is just a coffee loving playwright with his head in the bushes - and occasionally writer of poetry and short stories - who one day might grow up, but until then, Alaska Frank will continue making things up and write them down.

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