Astonishing software!

I’m a nerd. I have been using Macintoshes since the 1980s. I’ve done some programming. I retired early from the publishing business and am now a writer. I recently published a novel (science fiction) through my small press, and I’m starting on the sequel. I use Adobe InDesign for publishing work, and I’m very happy with it. Complexity doesn’t scare me if it’s disciplined, conceptually clean complexity. But I simply could not face writing another novel in any of the editors I’ve ever used. I’ve used many editors. I go all the way back to vi and nroff in the early Unix world. Like I said, I’m a nerd.

I started looking for outliners and editors. They all sucked. I like many of the concepts of programs like BBEdit, because they’re clever and oriented toward streams rather than pages. But BBEdit and other programmer’s editors don’t even support bold and italics, as far as I could tell. I despise Microsoft Word and refuse to use it. I hate software that tries to automate things and that thinks it knows better than I do. In Word, things are always hopping around in unpredictable ways. For every keystroke that Word’s automated features might save you, 9,462 keystrokes are required to clean up the messes it makes. LibreOffice is no better, just because it’s from the Word universe.

Opting for simplicity and nonviolence, I was about to start the new novel in TextEdit, using a TextEdit file as an outline. But then while Googling I came across Scrivener. I could scarcely believe it. There are people on the planet who think like me!

Scrivener’s complicated, but that’s fine. I think I’ve figured out an acceptable way to set up the new novel. The corkboard metaphor threw me a bit, but I think I’m getting a grip on how to set up my outline. I think I would buy this program for typewriter mode alone. It drives me absolutely crazy to always be typing at the bottom of the screen (unless I insert a bunch of empty carriage returns and scroll up). I abhor being forced to type on images of 8.5x11 pages and watching text hop from page to page and get entangled in unneeded and unwanted headers. A novel has nothing to do with pages until the last steps of the publishing process, in InDesign. During the writing process, it’s just a stream of text.

I wrote the previous novel chapter to chapter, but I had already decided that I wanted to structure the new novel as scenes. Scrivener was ahead of me on that. I wanted a way to track settings and characters. Scrivener was ahead of me on that.

The concept of compiling is brilliant. Having used software compilers for 30 years, it was instantly clear to me how the concept of compiling is appropriate to a long stream of text.

If any doubt remained about whether I should go ahead and buy Scrivener, I saw on the web site that you’re in Truro. That sealed the deal. I’m an American, but I love Truro and all the places I’ve ever been that are the remaining strongholds of my ancestors, the Celts.

Well done.

Thank you very much for your kind words, much appreciated! It sounds as though the path that led you to Scrivener is very similar to the one that led me to create it, funnily enough.

With regard to the corkboard, remember that you can completely ignore it if it doesn’t gel with the way you write - you could just use the outliner instead. (There’s a lot of stuff in Scrivener that you can ignore if it doesn’t fit with your style of working.)

Thanks again and all the best,
Keith