Do you use Scrivener and/or Dropbox?
July 31, 2012
I know each writer has her own way of working. This includes the manner of actually putting words on a written page.
Some writers still use a pen and writing pad for first drafts. The problem I have with that approach is that my handwriting is so indecipherable that even I can’t read it once it gets cold.
So, I do all my writing using a keyboard.
But this raises the question of which word processing application is the best for authors. Most of what I have written until a year ago was on Word. In the last year, I have transitioned to writing blogs on WordPress, because this just saves a step. If I write them on WordPress, I don’t have to transfer them from another word processor or re-format them to fit the WordPress interface.
But when it comes to my other writing, I have made another change. About two months ago, I re-discovered Scrivener.
If you haven’t heard of Scrivener, it is an application available for Mac or PC designed specifically for writers.
Scrivener is a product of Literature & Latte. You can obtain a thirty day trial subscription for free. The retail price is only about $50 and includes a license for up to ten machines in the purchaser’s household. In other words, if you have several computers at various locations, or a laptop and a desktop, you pay $50 and can download the full program on each machine. The only thing is that if your machines have different operating systems, one Mac and one PC, you would have to buy two versions of Scrivener because the same program doesn’t work across the two different platforms.
The beauty of Scrivener is that it emulates the old note card, story board method. You can make notes on a cork board, load things like pictures and web pages into a research folder for later use. You can also re-arrange chapters and scenes with ease by clicking and dragging them where you want them. There is a one-click feature that allows you to capture a synopsis of a scene or chapter on a note card. This is really handy when you scroll through the chapters because the note card serves as a reminder of what transpired in that section without your having to re-read the whole thing.
But the main thing that really makes Scrivener efficient as a writing tool is the ability to “compile” what you have written into a variety of formats with one click. This includes the ability to generate mobi or epub files of the piece.
In other words, with Scrivener, you can write the book, edit it, add cover art and front matter and generate a formatted digital version. If you are planning to publish the work through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and want to be sure your mobi file has all the functionality it should have, you have nothing to worry about. When you first hit the “compile as a mobi file” function, Scrivener directs you to KindleGen, Amazon’s site where you can obtain Amazon’s latest proprietary mobi generating app. This ensures that the Scrivener generated mobi file has all the bells and whistles necessary to look good on any Kindle.
One other thing that has saved me a lot of time with Scrivener is combining it and Dropbox. Dropbox is a secure cloud storage site, which provides 2.5 gigs of remote storage space for free. You can increase that storage amount for a small monthly fee.
So, if I write something at the office on Scrivener, I can save it to Dropbox and reopen it at home or on the road without having to transfer it to a flash drive. Also, if I want to send a manuscript for editing and the editor uses Scrivener, I can send a link to the editor which gives him or her access to the file on Dropbox. When she completes the editing, she saves the file on Dropbox, and I can access it and pick up the process from there.
I found that Scrivener is intuitive and required only a couple of days of use for me to become comfortable with it. Now, I would rather use it than Word. I haven’t mastered all the Scrivener capabilities, but I don’t have to do that for my purposes.
So, if you haven’t tried it yet, take a look at Scrivener and see what you think.