Have you been curious about software tools for writers, specifically Scrivener? I had been intrigued by the notion of software to support and organize my writing for quite a while, and finally delved into Scrivener recently while working on a middle grade novel with a significant research component. I’m loving it! I especially love having everything in one place—character sketches, research, plot notes, and multiple drafts.
So I embraced the opportunity to interview Vanessa Kier, who will be leading a workshop called “Scrivener: What’s All the Fuss?” at BAIPA’s Writer’s World conference on September 8. An author herself, Vanessa also helps writers with Scrivener and other software tools via her website The Writer’s Tech Stop.
Learn more about Vanessa, Scrivener, and her workshop in the interview below.
Q: Briefly, what is Scrivener?
Scrivener is a writing software application. It’s part word processor, part filing cabinet—with some fun visual tools thrown in, like a corkboard with virtual index cards.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started with Scrivener.
I’m a fiction writer and a tech coach for writers. My journey toward Scrivener actually started with my frustration at the number of documents I had to create in Word and Excel in order to hold the various pieces of my writing projects. I tried a variety of other writing programs and eventually switched to a program that was not Scrivener. That’s because at the time there were a couple of key features that I was looking for that Scrivener lacked.
Yes, believe it or not, Scrivener hasn’t always been such a robust writing program! It was originally more about storing ideas in a way that worked for your creative process than writing and formatting all the way through, from first draft to final manuscript.
Fast forward a couple of years and I kept losing work due to glitches in the other writing software. Scrivener had evolved and after hearing friends rave about it, I took another look. I downloaded the free trial. It did everything I needed and more. I purchased it long before the end of the free trial. I haven’t looked back.
Q: Who can benefit from using Scrivener and what kinds of projects is it best for?
Any writer who is open to learning new software can benefit from Scrivener. Ignore the people who say it’s only for pantsers or only for plotters. Scrivener’s greatest asset is that it’s flexible enough to adapt to most any writing process.
However, Scrivener is not for people who want a clone of Microsoft Word. It’s a completely different interface and does take a bit of getting used to. It’s also not for people who are perfectly happy with their current writing process. Because if it’s not broken, why switch?
You can use Scrivener for any type of project. I use it for all of my writing: fiction, blog posts, sales copy, and video scripts for my online course—even these answers you’re reading were written in Scrivener! A little-known secret is that one of the project templates that comes with Scrivener is a template for recipes. So literally any type of project that involves words can be done in Scrivener.
Q: Who can benefit from your workshop at Writer’s World?
My workshop is aimed at writers who are curious about Scrivener but haven’t tried it, or who have tried only a few basic features. I’m going to go into Scrivener and demonstrate the key features that make me love it. I’ll also show how to quickly set up a project and start writing.
Writers who are already using Scrivener at an intermediate or advanced level might see me demonstrate one or two features that they didn’t know about, but they’d probably do better with my online course, which covers more advanced topics.
Note that I will primarily be demonstrating in Scrivener 3 for the Mac, with screenshots where Scrivener for Windows is different. For writers who are thinking about buying Scrivener for Windows, I strongly suggest waiting until Scrivener 3 for Windows is released later this year. There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve between the two versions, so why make yourself learn Scrivener twice? And you definitely want Scrivener 3. It’s finally going to bring Windows up to par with the Mac version.
If you’re a writer using Scrivener 2 for the Mac, this workshop will provide you a peek inside Scrivener 3. However, while you’ll be able to see me demonstrate some of the new features, the focus of this workshop is primarily on introducing writers to Scrivener rather than explaining what’s changed in Scrivener 3.
Q: Tell us about a feature of Scrivener that particularly delights you, and why.
Okay, this is totally not a fair answer to writers who are using Scrivener for Windows or Scrivener 2 on the Mac, but I love that Scrivener 3 keeps a log of my writing history. If I forget to check my daily word count before I shut down for the night, all I have to do the next day is check Scrivener’s writing history. I used to keep my word counts by date in a spreadsheet, but now it’s all there in Scrivener! This is only one reason why I urge PC users to wait for Scrivener 3 for Windows.
Thanks, Vanessa! I’m looking forward to seeing you on September 8 at Writer’s World.
You’re welcome. I can’t wait to share my love of Scrivener!