Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A to Z - "S" is for Scrivener, Smashwords

I love Scrivener! I have Scrivener for Windows, which is inferior to the original version for Mac, however it does the basic functions that writers need it to do.

How is it better than Word?

In Word, to travel from chapter to chapter, you have to build a Table of Contents (ToC) and create links in your document as you go. You need to open many windows to keep track of your research. If you want to search for a section that needs edited, you have to scroll through pages of writing to find it.

Scrivener allows you to create each chapter in its own place. It's easy to click on the chapter you want to see. You can write note cards to yourself about each chapter, save your character notes and research right in the program. You can open two windows side by side, perhaps one research and one your story, and type away. You can view your story in outline mode, manuscript mode, or corkboard mode. You can color-code your chapters by character, scene, or any way you can think of.

The best part is, Scrivener compiles your files for ebooks! It will create a PDF perfect for CreateSpace. Now, it's not perfect for all, but it does compile them into test, doc, or pdf. I noticed that if you don't put your chapter titles in the manuscript, it doesn't grab them, but maybe I didn't use the right format, or maybe it doesn't behave the same way in the Windows version, which is common.

One word of caution, Scrivener is not easy to learn at first. Watch some videos on how to use it. It also costs money to have. If you are a serious writer, it is well worth it. They do offer a free 30 day trial.

If you want to make sure your document is compiled for many formats, go to Smashwords and follow their guide. They will walk you through how to ensure your work looks good on all types of ereaders. If you use the compile feature in Scrivener, I'd also go check your manuscript against the Smashwords Style Guide.

I'm still learning this tool, but I have enjoyed it so far. It almost makes me want to buy a Mac just to download the fully awesome version!

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