So as you may know, I participated in NaNoWriMo this year. One of the prizes you can get for winning NaNoWriMo is discounts off various types of software. I used the NaNoWriMo discount to get Scrivener software for half price. I just installed it yesterday and started working with it.

Now, normally I don’t believe in paying for software. No, I’m not a “pirate.” What I do is seek out free software because really, who wants to pay for all these computer programs? Most antivirus programs have a free version (and frankly, unless you run a business, there’s NO reason to use the upgraded pay version). Most websites, from social networks like Twitter and Facebook, to email, to this blog are all free. Heck, even Adobe Photoshop has a free version (as long as you don’t mind that it’s the 10-years-outdated version with no support). With so much free stuff, why pay for a program?

Well, I have a free version of MS Word (they call it “Word Starter”), and man, Scrivener is SO MUCH BETTER!!! I paid $20 for Scrivener after the discount, and it’s already worth it.

I have only barely begun to dip my toes into it, but here’s a few things I found VERY handy.

First, it allows you to take “snapshots” of your work. A snapshot is apparently like saving an extra draft. This is something I do all the time anyway. This is my file folder for Manifestation right now:

And I have backups of EVERY one of those files.
And I have backups of EVERY one of those files.

I save multiple versions, depending on the changes being made. “Draft 2” and “Draft 3” are substantial changes in overall organization and structure, but “Draft 3.2” and “Draft 3.3” might just mean there was one big scene I cut, and I wanted a pre-cut and post-cut copy of the file. I’m currently on “Draft 3.95,” and about to start “Draft 4” soon (which will be another FULL revision from beginning to end).

Well, with Scrivener I can just hit “Crtl-5” or click on “Take Snapshot” and it saves a copy of the whole document, as it stands right now. And if my document is divided into sections by chapter (as explained below), I can take a snapshot of just one individual chapter so that I can decide later if I need to put just that one chapter back the way it was. Seems very handy to me!

Even cooler than that is the ability to divide your book into chapters, and reorganize them with ease:

The blue dots are Tock chapters, the green are Gabby chapters, and the pink are Dr. Caldwell chapters.
The blue dots are Tock chapters, the green are Gabby chapters, and the pink are Dr. Caldwell chapters.

Each chapter basically becomes a stand-alone sub-document, but when you click on the “view all” option at the top, it puts them in order just like in my old Word document. I can continue writing and revising in each chapter like normal, but each remains separate. And THEN I can do this:


I have the chapters labelled by whose POV is shown in that chapter. So I can type “Gabby” in the search bar (circled red on the upper right side) and the list of chapters (in the red box on the left) changes to show ONLY Gabby’s chapters. (You can click on the picture above for a full-sized image to better see what I’m talking about.) You’ll notice that the chapters skip from 2 to 7 then 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 22, etc. The chapters in between are either chapters Gabby isn’t a part of, or chapters where she is there but the events are being told from another character’s POV. In this way, I can go through just Gabby’s section of the story alone. I can then switch to either Tock’s or Dr. Caldwell’s with ease, just by typing a different name in the search window (and you can’t see this in the screenshot, but the search window has a dropdown menu that I used to select “Labels” since that’s what I’m searching).

Now, I’ve only actually used Scrivener for about an hour so far, and these are just the features that I’ve discovered during that time. I’m sure there’s TONS of other features, but I wanted to discuss what I learned already. Cause, c’mon, if I found all this cool stuff in ONE hour, imagine what else there is to learn!

*The excessive !’s and 1’s in the blog post title are dedicated to the lovely and wonderful Meera.

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