Scribble away in Scrivener

If you type in “Scrivener” in Google you can find around 3740.000 results about this software. So, there really isn’t much that I can add to it. But I really want to tell you how amazing this writing tool is!

My story with Scrivener started when I was looking for a good software to organise my writings. I started with MS Word. Excellent software if you only need to create one document. But unfortunately, insufficient when you want to keep all your scribbles of one project together. Of course you can put all related documents in the same folder. But you still have to open them separately. And before you know it your desktop is covered with tiny little windows. Very confusing.

Aside of the organising part, MS Word doesn’t provide formatted templates for screenwriting. So, it takes a lot of effort for one to write a good formatted screenplay in Word. That’s the reason I started to search for some other software.

When I did a search for screenwriting software, Final Draft was, of course, the first hit I got. But unfortunately, I couldn’t afford Final Draft with my tiny budget. So, I kept on searching and I found Celtx. It claimed to be a free software if you work online in their cloud. But you will miss some features if you use the free version. Plus, I don’t want to work online constantly, because sometimes I work at places that doesn’t provide WIFI. And I really want to keep my documents local.

There is a desktop version of Celtx though. It costs around €20,-. It’s a most basic version that only allows you to write a screenplay. If you want to add, for example, character sketches, you have to switch to the online mode. I can not tell you much about the online version, because I haven’t really used it. But the desktop version still has some bugs that needs to be solved, though. If you only need a writing tool for a screenplay, Celtx works just fine.

But I still wasn’t satisfied with Celtx because I miss a lot of features. So, I went on searching and I found information about Scrivener on the website of The Writer’s store. I did some research about this software, read some reviews and watched some tutorial videos online. And I thought: this is it!

For a very affordable price of less than €50,- I downloaded Scrivener from Literature and Latte. And a whole new world was opening up to me! Not only can I use Scrivener to write screenplays (it comes with excellent templates for different screen-writings!) I can also use it to write novels (fiction AND non-fiction templates are provided!) and even start a recipe collection (maybe one day…)!

Starting a project in Scrivener is very easy. Just choose a template and write away! You can use images or add notes to your project and simply just attach them to the binder and you can keep all related documents for one project all together. So, you never have to open them separately anymore. You can add different folders to the binder for different purposes. And you can discard scenes or documents which you don’t need. They will be kept in the trash bin of the project. If you should, for some reason, decide to retrieve the removed documents, just fish them out of the trash bin and put them back in the folder.

Best part of Scrivener is the cork board. The cork board shows you an overview of all documents in one particular folder as index cards pinned on a board. You can easily arrange scenes or move around documents. You can label the cards with different colours and different statuses. It provides you so much clarity!

This writing tool is really a must have for writers who wants to keep their projects well organised.

Not convinced yet? Read more about Scrivener:
Writing a screenplay in Scrivener by Gwen Hernandez
Scrivener review on www.standoutbooks.com

Watch an introduction video to Scrivener here.

Writer’s foreplay

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

I always had that romantic image of a writer in my head: a melancholic appearance, hanging over a laptop in a coffeeshop, sipping a cup of black coffee, typing away the words which hit the screen like water hitting breakers. Occasionally shedding an eye on a small notebook at the corner of the table and then continue processing the information into the story on the bright screen.

Unfortunately, I found out that it doesn’t work that way. Being a writer is everything but romantic. It is hard work! You can’t just write away and and skip the foreplay. The foreplay of a writer isn’t romantic either. It means a lot of research, outlining, structuring and absorbing all kinds of information about the subject you are writing.

The foreplay is necessary! I made the big mistake of skipping this proces and followed the image of a romantic writer, eager to become one of myself. I failed!

As a novice writer I started to write my first story without preparations. Well, of course I did some structuring and outlining. I knew, for instance, who my protagonist is and what her goal will be. I focused on it, wrote down some notes about her and her goal. I also knew who the antagonist is and what she wanted from my main character. Well, that should be enough, right?!

I didn’t work out a detailed outline. Just worked out half a story structure. Didn’t get to know my story characters as good as I should have and what they do and what they really really want. I didn’t work out the side characters and their stories. I just started to write down my story while the foreplay wasn’t even getting warm let even hot. I managed to get words processed on my laptop. But the more I wrote, the more I got lost! The story went a whole different way than I had planned! All the characters did something different than I wanted them to. The main story did stick a bit, but all side stories went astray. I had to adjust the story while I was writing and it took me a lot of time to get it straight again. When I finally typed “Fade out” the outcome was a whole different story than I had in my mind in the first place. The rewrite was fun though. But that was only after I wrote a detailed outline and set up a new structure. And I made a character sketch for every character that appears in the story and got to know them again. If only I had started with these preparations in the first place, it could’ve saved me a lot of precious time.

So, the next project I started, I did my research and structuring well! The writing went a lot smoother than my first project and the story sticks! It saved me a lot of struggling while writing.

This is one thing I learned: just consider writing is your love relationship. You can not just reach an ecstatic state without hugging and a kissing. The more you know about your partner and his or her needs the better your love life will be! The same works for writing. The better you do your research and structure the better the outcome will be!

Don’t make the same mistake I did! Be well prepared if it concerns your precious story! But by all means, if you have made the same mistake I did, don’t give up! Just get over it and keep on writing! Learn from the mistake. Make the second attempt a better one. And the third one even more better. Because, if that is what you love to do, you will somehow learn to play the first bit and successfully get to the ecstatic stage!

More on structuring:
Find some strong facts about structure by Bang2Write here
Some interesting structuring tips article on ScriptMag.com: The Four Act Structure