Writing: Scrivener for pantsers

I got a Mac and one of the advantages is that you can try some of the dedicated software, like Scrivener. I will probably end up getting MS Office for it, but we like to move to the Office 365 program and buy a licence for multiple computers and tablets. But there are some issues with computers in our computer farm that already have a paid licence, or are too old, or are on their last legs, so it isn’t feasible to get the multi-user licence until those things have been sorted out.

I used Pages for The Necromancer’s Daughter. I don’t really care about whizzbangery in text editors. I’d write in Notepad if it didn’t do that horrible sideways-scroll thing. I was using OpenOffice 3.2 on the Samsung before. I really don’t care. I use zilch formatting in my drafts. I even enter italics _like this_, so that it doesn’t get lost if I enter the text in a web page. Pages was OK. It’s nice and clean. But it isn’t particularly compatible with pretty much anything.

So. People on the Kindleboards were raving about Scrivener. You can do outlines and character sheets and yadda yadda, but I was thinking: what the hell is the use in that for someone who pantses their novels?

Anyway, someone on the Kindleboards offered a 50% off voucher (thanks, Amy!). The program is only $40, there is a Mac and PC version but the Mac version is said to be better and have more features. So I thought what the hey.

It turns out I’m a really visual writer. Being a pantser, there are features I will never use. But I do enjoy seeing a really rough map of the story with the click of a button. For a new manuscript, I enter two “chapters”: Beginning and End, and then write in each what’s in my head about how the story begins and ends.

Then I divide the story in 3-5 sections, depending on the structure. Each will have a couple of words of what happens, like “Characters go here” or “Character goes into town to talk to xyz people”. They are lines of stuff that will put words on the page, not so much about why things happen. It’s like a stage play: this is where the next act starts and we need to change the set.

I allocate each of those chunks a word count according to how many parts there are in the total target word count of the book, usually 80k.

Then I start writing.

As I go, I subdivide the sections into 3000-word chunks, each with a word or two about what happens. Then I fill them with story.

The progress bars that change colour are awesome!

Anyway, if you want to read about it, the official website is here. It looks like it’s Mac only, but it isn’t, I swear.

Here is a screenshot of my current WIP:

Screenshot 2016-01-14 09.07.10

Writing: Scrivener for pantsers was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

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2 comments on “Writing: Scrivener for pantsers

  1. I’ve been using scrivener for almost three years now. I’ve mostly being using it on an ancient (2009 era) samsung laptop that runs ubuntu linux. It works really well. I love it so much that I paid for a windows licence (which is actually installed on my son’s laptop).

    I’m considering buying a second hand mac to replace this machine when it finally dies (won’t be long now). That way I get to play with the extra functionality you can get in the mac version. I don’t even care that I’ll need to buy another licence to do this, the people that made scrivener deserve encouragement (and dollars).

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