Saturday, March 5, 2011

Scrivener Helps Me Organize My Thoughts

That's right, I said Scrivener. It's not a made up word, it's actually a rather neat piece of software. It lets you organize your literary thoughts much the same way as a programmer might organize their code. Here's a screenshot of the outline view:

This is what I was talking about when I mentioned that I broke my chapters down in to scenes. The scenes have a description field that you can state your basic goal of the scene, and a notes field where you can jot down some notes about the scene if you aren't planning on writing the scene right then, or if you just want to make sure you don't forget an idea. I use this feature to framework a chapter before I write it. 

For example, I knew what I wanted to accomplish throughout my first chapter. I was able to logically divide the chapter in to three parts which I created in Scrivener as scenes. I wrote down brief summaries about what would happen in each scene. I did the frameworking for chapter one while I was still writing the prologue.

There are other great features that I utilize. You can save character bio sheets for your main characters so that you can always remember what color eyes your characters have. You can do the same thing for locations, and you can even simply create a new folder and add any other items that you might want to keep track of for future reference.

Another neat feature that I have been using is the name generator:

As you can see the name generator is highly configurable. You can specify gender, obscurity, and even prefer names specific to a region or religion. I have found this tool to be immensely useful as it presents me with a list of names that I can pick and choose first and last names from which lets me get back to writing instead of fretting over what someones name should be. I came up with my main character's name on my own, and I have to say that I think I like his love interest's randomly generated name more.

This is another feature that I like a lot. You can configure a certain amount of words that will be your goal for a writing session. For me I use session as a day, but I reset my counter earlier after I wrote the first two scenes of Chapter One. I just finished Chapter One so you can see that my third scene is 688 words long, and that the combination of the prologue and the first chapter is roughly 5,000 words. It's a nice tool that allow's you to see your progress towards hitting your writing goals for the day.

There's a ton of other great features that I haven't even made use of yet such as converting your project in to any of the ebook formats. Don't just take my word for it, thought. Check out the free trial on their website for yourself:


  1. "Bartleby the Scrivener" is a short story by Herman Melville. I just thought you would like to know that piece of information. In this case a scrivener is someone who copies documents by hand.

  2. I came across this blog while doing a google search. When you use the compile feature it auto populates chapter numbers is there a way to make one say prolouge?