Friday, December 18, 2009

My new love: Scrivener

Since the end of NaNoWriMo, I've been having a lot of problems with the organization of my novel-in-progress. Or I should say, the dis-organization. And the universe heard my frustration and answered with a tidy solution.

Here is the software solution to chronic disorganization:

Allow me to introduce you to Scrivener. (I even like its icon--the yin yang and quotation marks--perfect!)

Its like I have my own personal team of software developers who heard about my (writing) problems and created this software just for me--that is how perfectly it solved my (writing) problems. I downloaded it a week ago and have been using it happily all week.

Actually, that is an understatement: I have been **spazy** and **thrilled** to get to my computer each day and to get my paws on my story. It's like my computer now has a magic organizing fairy inside!

Instead of wading in the mire of folders that I had in the word processing program that I usually use, trying to find what I know I wrote last week and want to now incorporate into my master document, and tearing my hair out because I can't remember whether it is in the file titled "Scrap" or the file titled "Fearless Risk Taking Writing" (which I named on a day that I needed a little pep talk) or in the file titled "Rewrite" or the file titled "Gaps to fill". Scrivener helps me actually find what I am looking for pretty quickly.

It has even transformed my non-creative days into productive days. I did not write much new prose today--my brain was foggy and groggy and really not sharp enough to spit out sparkly words that anyone would want to read. But with my buddy Scrivener I was able to solve some other important problems that didn't require a creative mind: things like in which POV a troublesome chapter should be written, how to integrate the antagonists story in the flow of the plot (rather than my previous method of having a separate file called: "Bad Guy Stuff" with little stars inserted into the main document where I thought parts might eventually be inserted). I was even able to come up with some chapter titles. This is all stuff that I would have struggled to do with my word processing version--it was just too big, too long and too much of a mess.

And even better, since I was a NaNo winner, I got 50% off the regular (reasonable) price of $40. I can't even quantify how much the $20 I spent on this software has increased my productivity.

Coincidentally, the same week that I discovered and started to use Scrivener, I read a terrific book, probably the best book with an unreliable narrator I've ever read, called Liar by Justine Larbalestier. I'm not going to blather on about the content of the book because it does have a nifty plot twist that I didn't see coming and I don't want to ruin it for anyone else. Let me just say, it's a really well written YA novel that I'd bet a lot of adult readers would enjoy. The Scrivener coincidence came up when I finished the book and was reading the author's acknowledgments (I like reading these--does anyone else? Though I confess it bugs the crap out of me when they are positioned before the book begins. I think you should thank people at the end of the book). In it she says that she used Scrivener to write the book and didn't think she could have managed the complexity of her plot without it.

I started reading this book the day after I downloaded Scrivener and now that I have played around with it for a week I can completely see how it would make her novel much more manageable. Another reason for me to feel grateful for Scrivener since it enabled me to read a really fun book!

Now I just need to see if the smart people who created Scrivener have another program that will solve the rest of my problems. Anyone know of software that can tackle the problem of every horizontal surface in my house being covered with paper? Earlier this week I waded through a mountain of bills, catalogs, the girl critter's many drawings of dragons, the boy critter's homework that I have no idea whether or not he was supposed to turn in last month, scraps of paper with phone numbers but no names, coupons that I'll probably never remember to use, printed out recipes, book reviews, torn off pages from the Cute Overload calendar, business cards, school phone directories, and so on. I thought I did a pretty good job of organizing and recycling, but now that it is the weekend, I look around the sty house and it has all reappeared.

If someone can write a program that solves this problem, I swear I will drop this novel writing nonsense and devote myself to pitching your product until you have made your first million.