2012-08-24

Scrivener update

Quite some time ago I mentioned that I was going to give Scrivener a good try by using it to write Peacekeeper.  I used to use OpenOffice primarily because it could output directly to PDF, it was free, and it always returned me to where I was working in the document when I last closed it.  I also had a tiny netbook that ran Linux and OpenOffice ran on it quite nicely.  Now I have all Windows machines and I recently switched to using Word.  There are advantages to that program as well: it highlights possible grammatical errors, everyone can read the files it produces, and all my publishers require it for submissions.

But I kept hearing such good things about Scrivener - so good I had to give it a try.  My initial response was "this won't work for me".  It lacks some essential features (I'm using the Windows version - the Mac version is an entire version number ahead).  It won't do mirror margins, page numbering and header/footer formatting are tricky, and the native file format is incompatible with every other word processor out there.  Despite these issues, I went ahead and started using it for Peacekeeper.  I'm now a fan!

Scrivener has some unique features that I've come to love.  The ability to keep notes for each chapter as well as for the document as a whole is the one I love the best.  I also use the dual editor feature which allows me to keep all of my reference material handy at the bottom of my screen.  I have reference documents for characters, general notes, alien life forms, and planets.  The program also keeps track of where I was in each document (chapter or reference document in my case) so when I reopen it I just start typing.  It's a VERY handy program.  I accidentally left Scrivener open on my desktop last day when I went to the bookstore.  I added 4 chapters and edited another one while there.  I was surprised to find that Scrivener didn't complain and the changes were picked up without issue on the desktop machine.  There is a warning in the manual not to do this sort of thing but the program handled it without any problems.

So what about the issues I mentioned?  No problem.  After compiling the final document (Scrivener's word for generating a final output file) in Word format, I can open it in Word and do my final editing, pagination, margination, and all that stuff.  But, for actually writing - Scrivener is now my chosen application.  It's inexpensive too and the owner is very receptive to feedback.  If you're interested you can try the program for free.  Their website is:  http://literatureandlatte.com/trial.php

Peacekeeper is being written by scavenging chapters from an unpublished novel I wrote back in the 80's titled "The Elite of the Alliance".  This should make writing the story faster than generating it from scratch.  Still, there's a lot of editing to be done.  So, if you see a quote like I made above that said I added 4 chapters in a single day, that does not mean I actually wrote them.  I moved them into the book and they need to be edited.  Still working on the issue of the AOH but I think I'm closing in on a possible solution or two.  In the meantime - the writing continues.