Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I began writing a book a few weeks ago. I started like everyone does, banging away at MS Word. But I got tired of that pretty fast, and started looking for better options. Word only makes Word files; you can't transfer the formatting to any other platform. I want to make an e-book, the most popular format being epub. I already have the Calibre software for keeping up with ebooks, and for converting between ebook formats; I also have the Sigil epub software. Sigil is a flexible epub editor, but it is not very fleshed out yet. It lacks basic features like spell check and word counts. It is under development as we speak. But it does a good job at what it is for, and so for a while I typed at the text in Sigil. One feature I like is the ability to separate chapters into different HTML files within the project; this is part of the structure of epubs, and I could keep a little better organized. But the lack of features in Sigil left me wanting something better. Dad pointed me to a program called Scrivener.

Scrivener is a full writing studio. It is designed with the writer in mind, and has space for you to spread out and get organized. Bits of story go into separate documents; each document has associated synopsis, notes, keywords, and title. "Corkboard view" allows you to visually re-arrange story pieces into a different order. "Scrivenings" view shows the body of the text all strung together like one file, fully editable - the edits go into the individual files. There is a whole other folder for research items, which supports audio, images, and PDFs as well as text. On the whole, it is very flexible and intuitive. I feel like I am keeping track of the whole story much better now. I can also see at a glance how much I have (or have not) actually typed today, and the total word count. There are many other features in there that I have only started to discover.

Scrivener was developed for Mac (no surprise), and is in beta for Windows. It will be $40 for the full version in June, but you can try the beta for free right now. I'm hooked, and I think that it will be well worth the investment for any writer. Check it out!  http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivenerforwindows/