For the last few years most of my creative writing has taken place inside a remarkable piece of software called Scrivener. This inexpensive program is my principal tool for outlining, developing, writing and revising every piece of fiction I write.
With a new release for the Mac, version two, it added the ability to take authors straight to the manuscript submission stage or to producing a finished ebook ready for publication on Kindle or one of the other ebook distribution systems. The appearance of Scrivener for Windows has cemented the program’s popularity with writers of all kinds around the world.
Some of the blog posts here about Scrivener have proved perenially popular. But they are hard to follow stretched out across a blog, and there’s a lot more to say about Scrivener than can be dealt with in a single post. So I thought it was time I set down in a book my personal thoughts about how to approach writing and delivering a novel using the unique set of tools and possibilities that Scrivener provides.
When the program’s inventor, Keith Blount, first came out with the app a few years ago Scrivener was very much aimed at writing a novel. As the program’s developed it’s found a very wide following outside the fiction community. Academics, journalists and students adore it — for obvious reasons.
With Scrivener’s rise in stature and power, its possibilities have extended greatly so you can use it for everything from writing a movie script to a thesis or a collection of journalism pieces. A few authors I know find the move from a conventional word processor to Scrivener’s unique working methods daunting. One reason for that is there are lots of different ways to tackle your workload.
So this isn’t a comprehensive ‘how to master Scrivener’ guide for everyone. It’s a selective, highly personal and opinionated look at Scrivener from the point of view of an author looking to write a novel. It tackles basic structure, writing, revising and delivering a book.
On the basis of eating your own dog food this guide was produced entirely within Scrivener itself. So you can see how the program was used to create, organise and, finally, produced the Kindle file itself.
The book is available for $5.99 (or sterling equivalent). This includes Amazon’s delivery fee, which is more expensive than a normal book because this one is full of screenshots. It runs to 24,000 words — I thought I was writing something rather shorter, but the more I looked at Scrivener, the more I found to discuss.
This isn’t a replacement for the Scrivener manual or the program’s excellent tutorial. It’s a focussed guide for writing fiction designed to be used with my own template for Scrivener which is available for free here. The contents pages of the book are at the foot of this page, though of course since this is on Kindle anyone can download a sample of the opening sections and take a look for free. I encourage you to do this because really this is aimed at the serious fiction writer, not someone who just wants to get a bit of basic advice on ‘how to produce a novel’.
I hope existing and new Scrivener users find it useful. And many thanks to Keith for his help in polishing the text and the advice it contains, though many more thanks for inventing Scrivener itself.
The second Pieter Vos book, The Wrong Girl, will appear in May in the UK from Pan Macmillan. The Dutch version, Het Verkeerde Meisje, will be out from Boekerij in September.
And look out for David’s first Italian novel in some years, The Flood. A standalone set in Florence mainly in 1986 it will be published by Severn House in the UK in July and in the US in October.