An Odyssey with Scrivener

You wouldn’t believe how busy the last few days have been for me. I’m not even sure I quite believe it, even though I was the one doing it all. I just don’t know how I got it all progressed as far as it is. Word counts are one thing. That’s still a single, continuous task. But the number of different tasks I’ve gotten through in the last couple of days, each taking me in a different direction has been unusual for me to do successfully. And all this despite ever day at the day-jobย this week feeling like Monday. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

It’s been a serious juggling act, to be honest, one I wouldn’t have thought I could manage. I really do better (most of the time) with a single thing I can focus on. One story I’m telling, one trilogy I write beginning to end. Even editing a different one in between volumes made me nervous while I was working on Necromantic. I was afraid that I’d somehow drop something or lose my groove on the overall story. This has been sort of a learning experience for me on many levels, chiefly that I’m capable of things I might not believe at first glance. It’s a good thing to know. Maybe it’ll encourage me to ย try new things, to push myself in ways I’d previously shied away from.

First up for juggling is writing, as always. No, I haven’t gone and written a new story since my last post, but I have been working on a number of things. I outlined one novella (Mirrors related) and a short story (Necromantic related), and am partway through the outline for another novella (Devan!). So I’m basically running around with my head in two different worlds at the moment. We won’t discuss story ideas. Yes, that means there have been more. There are always more. And I’m editing the novella still. Lots to work on with it, but I’ll get it there.

I’m mulling what to do with the two novellas from my existing worlds. I’m thinking about possibly sending them out to the world as free ebooks, but I’m not 100% sure about it. My thought about it was that it would make a good taste for people, an introduction to my writing and characters. However, the idea of doing that led me to investigate what elements of the work to get it pub-ready I can do myself that I’m not already doing. Mostly, this comes down to formatting, as I can’t draw to save my life.

I should mention that I picked up the MacHeist bundle last fall when it was available. It was an amazing package deal of software and some of the money it generates goes to charity. Even better? I got something like $750 worth of software for $29. Now, I won’t use all of it, or probably even half of it, but a few of the ones I know I’ll use each retail for more than what I spent for the whole thing, so I count this an epic win for me. The reason I mention it now is that one of the items in the bundle was a copy of Scrivener.

Now, for those of you who don’t know (though I imagine that’s few of you), Scrivener is a writing tool that was designed by writers, for writers. It’s versatile, if a bit complicated at first, and one of the things I like about it is that I can use as much or as little of it as I want. I don’t see me using the outlining feature, because I like the way I have OmniOutliner set up, but it’s nice to have the option if that stops working for me. It can also track session and overall goals. I do see me using at least the session goals ย and writing in it, possibly as early as the next manuscript I start. But what I love the most about it and the reason I jumped on the MacHeist bundle as a means of getting it is that this thing formats for just about anything.

I knew about that before, really, I did. I’d heard others talk about how they could format their book for ebook in it. I wasn’t as aware of being able to do print books, but it does make sense. Why didn’t I try this before? Mostly because I’ve found Scrivener intimidating. But I decided it was time to get over that, because I like the idea of doing that part myself. As I said, doing covers is out of the question, but formatting, I can do. It’s even relatively painless once you have an idea of where the controls are, what settings affect which element. No, I didn’t do it alone. Google and I were best friends during my multi-day odyssey in formatting. I’m really pleased with the results though, and think that the next time will (hopefully) be even easier. Once I feel a bit more confident about my knowledge and skills with this, I may put together a post or something on it, share what I’ve learned. I’m not sure though, as I found so many resources already out there, people who know this much better than I do, who probably said it better and more clearly than I could. We’ll see how I feel after doing this again. I’m definitely not ready for it yet. Besides, it’s not like I have any lack of things to work on for writing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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17 Responses to An Odyssey with Scrivener

  1. sarahcradit says:

    Thank you for posting about your experiences with Scrivener…I’ve been really debating whether or not to get it (I love outlining and note-taking, and all of the things it seems to offer as features), but was wondering what other writers thought. I think maybe I will try the trial and see how it goes.

    • Julie says:

      You’re welcome. I definitely encourage you to give the trial a whirl. I’m a hardcore note-taker and outliner myself. I’d probably be investigating those aspects if I didn’t have a really good solution in place for me already, one that’s stood me in good stead through 7 novels and a novella so far. I’m looking forward to writing a manuscript with it and will likely write a post about that experience as well (maybe a series of posts, depending on how much I have to say when all is said and done). Also, there’s probably going to end up being one on editing with it, once I get to that point. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Peggy Isaacs says:

    I’ve debated over Scrivener for a long time as well. I had a creative writing professor who swore by it.

    • Julie says:

      Well, one of the things I like about it is that they give you a fully functional trial of Scrivener, rather than one with only select features. It allows you to give it a real shot. Also, if I recall correctly, it’s based on the number of days you actually use it, something anyone with a busy life would appreciate. I figure that you have little to lose at that point.

  3. jmmcdowell says:

    I’ve been using Scrivener for more than a year now, and I couldn’t imagine going back to Word. It’s flexibility makes it work for both outliners and pantsers. It does take a little getting used to, but it’s worth the effort. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Julie says:

      Yes, I definitely agree that it’s worth learning. Even just for the formatting, it’s been worth it. And I do like that they have made it so flexible. I still don’t see me outlining in it, but who knows, I never thought I’d love it this much at all, so maybe I’m wrong about that too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Pete Denton says:

    I do enjoy using Scrivener. Much easier to keep control than word, for me at least. Free novellas is a good idea. If you don’t mind putting the work out there for free, you will probably gain more purchases for your other books. Goes back to the anthology of short stories. Any taster that can tempt a reader into buying your other work has to be a good idea.

    Happy Scrivening ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Julie says:

      In a way, giving away a shorter work feels easier than a whole novel, and I couldn’t explain why. Maybe because I feel like there’s less work involved, though that’s not entirely accurate. But I do agree that a taste can get people in the door, as it were. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. 4amWriter says:

    I work with Scrivener, but I haven’t had a chance to look at the formatting features. I hear that formatting a self-published book is a nightmare! I wonder if Scrivener’s formatting features are helpful or is it a moot point, seeing as how the book still has to go through the rigamarole of smashwords, amazon, etc.?

    • Julie says:

      I’d heard the same thing about formatting, but that wasn’t my experience with Scrivener. Admittedly, I haven’t tried to send a file formatted that way through Smashwords’ grinder yet, but with Amazon, there wasn’t any rigamarole because I had a .mobi file already, so no conversion was needed. I was also able to get a very good file for a print edition
      through those formatting tools.

      Also, keep in mind that Smashwords is testing a new submission method that would allow .epub files to be submitted to them, bypassing the grinder. I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes, once they’re done testing and it goes live.

      I’ll admit it took some time fiddling with settings to get something I was happy with, but I made it in the end. I did test the files first on a couple of different devices before submitting them, to ensure that it looked all right. Also, Amazon makes a preview app available so you can virtually test it out on different devices.

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