I first came across the word “scrivener” when someone gave me Bartleby the Scrivener to act out in charades. I didn’t do so well and I always remembered that word. That darn word. There is an application called Scrivener by Literature and Latte which is for writers. It is a mac application, but they’ve developed a version for Windows which is in beta.
What is Scrivener? Basically, it’s a word processor. But it’s a word processor designed for the early drafts of a project. You can work on regular fiction (novel, short story, etc.) or scripts (plays, screenplays, etc.). The nice thing about it is that it allows you to easily break up your work into segments and move it around. You can also keep all your research material in one place (the document itself) and not have to look all over the place for that information.
I read Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit a few years ago. It’s an excellent book and I highly recommend it. One thing that I took from the book, which I still use today, is the concept of having a box for ideas related to a project. Basically, it’s a place where you put ideas, clippings, songs, pictures, anything that relates to your project or that you think will serve as inspiration.
When I start a project I usually create a box file and jot down anything related to the story I’m going to work on. As I’m writing, I will refer to that “box” when I get stuck to make sure that I’ve touched on everything that I wanted to.
The nice thing about Scrivener is that the file or box is part of the document itself. So, you don’t have to flip from program to program. Or search in folders to find that darn document. (And what did I call it this time??)
Scrivener is basically broken down into three parts: the document, the research and the trash. The document section is where you do your writing or at least play with your writing. Scrivener has different formats for you to use. To be honest, I’m not crazy about the script writing. I find it much easier to use Final Draft to write my script and then import it and play around with it in Scrivener.
The research section is the part I really like. You can import files (pictures, pdfs, music) into Scrivener and then refer to them when you write. For example, a character in my current project has cancer and I put some notes in the research part. Whenever my character is talking about her cancer, I do a quick look at my notes to see if I want to add something or at least inform what I’m going to write. It’s a mouse click away.
Sometimes, I just start writing a project. I don’t have an outline and I’m not sure exactly where it is going to go. I can start writing, import the script into Scrivener and play around with “what” goes “where” and put in a place marker for events, beats or scenes and then go back to it.
Now, there are ways to do similar things in Final Draft or whatever word processing program you use. But I like the ease in which it can be done with Scrivener.
There are still some bugs in the program. It is a beta version, after all. Currently, I have to export my Final Draft into rtf format and then import it in Scrivener. And when I modify the script and export it to rtf to bring back into Final Draft, the formatting is all screwed up. Me no likey. But there will be an update out on Feb. 25, so we’ll see if those things are addressed.
If I was only going to use one tool, it would be Final Draft. I find it much easier to write a script with it. But I really like being able to play around with the script and have my research right where I can find it. I’m going to continue to use both tools for my current project. I’ll keep you updated.
P.S. Super Bowl had an impact. I gained two pounds. Darn wings. And chips. And nachos. And cake. And brownies…