Lessons Learned #21

My review on Scrivener

A Review of Scrivener

A number of weeks ago I bit the bullet and took a trial month of Scrivener. I had read raving reviews about it and it was going to ‘make a writer’s life a lot easier.’ I did the fast-track intro to it and it all seemed pretty logic to me. At that point I still didn’t see the benefit over using Word in a systematic way though.

I used it first to write my short story for my local writers’ club. I wrote the story and… that was it. Scrivener didn’t give me a word count (as I had to stay under 1000 words), at least I couldn’t find it at the time, and the whole ‘card thing’ was totally unnecessary. I had to copy/paste my work back into Word to do the formatting and to get the word count (which I didn’t surpass to my surprise).

Scrivener Screenwriting

As time was passing by and the end of my trial period got closer I decided I would just go for it and bought it. I wasn’t going to give up so easily. I saw that when I opened a new document, that I could also open a script file. Wonderful! So I used it to write two of my scripts for my filming club. Every time you hit the enter key twice the program gives you the option of what you want to write next; chapter title, dialogue, camera move, etc.(the C you see in the image actually is a ‘Cut T0’ option, but it went as soon as I ‘let go’ with my mouse to take the screen print). When you click on what you want to do it automatically formats your text in the right font and at the right spot on the page. Magic! Made my screenwriter’s life a lot easier indeed. Happy so far.


I then used it to start to re-write my first novel. I copied my novel’s text from Word and chopped it up into the chapters that I had already made (see the grey area on the left-hand side of the above image). As I am re-writing the story, the little cards on the cork board (middle top of the image) are minimal at the moment, as I don’t have the chapters anymore that I had, just the three-act thing. I haven’t been using the right-hand side of the screen at all yet, I still need to dive into what it does. But I like the fact that I can see at a glance on the left-hand-side what chapter I’m at, where I am in the story, and which bits and pieces I still have to put in. As I am re-writing, there is a lot of shuffling around of text and I find Scrivener a great help to keep on top of it all. I haven’t finished the re-writing yet, but again, so far very happy with Scrivener.

My next project will be to write the third novel of the trilogy and this is where I think I will mostly enjoy the program. I will be able to write ‘hybrid style.’ I can draw up a backbone of the story on the corkboard cards and then start writing in the files. I can add files, move them around, delete them, put them on hold, anything. The corkboard can be flipped away when I undo ‘split screen’ and bring them up again to regain my overview and what point I was going to make in that particular chapter. And as I am writing I can change the backbone to go with my creativity, I don’t have to stick with the plan.


Again, I need to dive into what the right-hand-side of the screen can do for me. I believe it is used for tagging words/situations/emotions in your text. So you know better how to build suspense and the likes. What it also does is show you the label you have given that piece of text. If you look at the image above, you see that you can put the document in ‘outliner mode’ (yellow image at the top) and then add labels and status to the chapters. The status can be set to ‘to do,’ ‘first draft,’ ‘revised draft,’ final draft,’ or ‘title page.’ Again, this would be visible on the right-hand-side of the screen when you are writing, so you keep the overview of it all.

Overall I am happy that I bought Scrivener. When you write more than just a page or two it is definitely worth the money. Oh, and it does do a word count, it’s at the bottom of the page. It even gives you a character count 🙂 .

Have a Happy Writing Weekend!

Author: Jacky Dahlhaus

Paranormal Romance Author

2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned #21”

  1. I still haven’t taken the plunge. The tech lover in me is pulled toward it, but the grumpy old man in me shouts, “Get off my lawn with that newfangled gadgetry!” I will probably break down and snag it – thanks for sharing your insights and experience with it.

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