Before I get started with YetAnotherSoftware. . . .

Before I bother to download this software, I really need to know if it will allow me to import from .doc or .txt, and export to .mobi, .epub, etc., EASILY, for the purposes of publishing something professionally. I have been disappointed too many times to start all over and then be disappointed Yet Again.

If I can’t do it with this, anyone have any suggestions?

I’m used to working with the cards from scriptwriting software, and the ease of use of Word/WP, but I really need to start outputting into a file that will be actually publishable.

Anyone? Help? Please?



Technically speaking, all of that is fine. We support those formats on import and export. Easily is more subjective. I think the key thing here to note is that the software is very much a composition tool. It has e-book format export, but it is not designed to be a quick and dirty “turn my .doc file into a .mobi file” program. It’s actually got a lot of process in between those two points. People typically need to invest a goodly amount of time in learning some of that process. For those that do, we think getting from A to Z is quite efficient, but jumping straight to Z for your first project might be a touch overwhelming. Part of what makes this software appealing to many writers is its process, but that process is unorthodox in the typical word processing philosophy of things—so there is a bit of a conceptual learning curve somewhere in between A and Z.

If you’re prepared to start a new project, and these .doc files are notes and fragments of prose, then you’ll be much better situated for easing into Scrivener. Given how long the average person takes to write a book, that’s a lot of time spent learning the software and getting comfortable with its ideas, before jumping into compile. By then it shouldn’t be much of a step—you’ll understand most of what makes it tick.

As far as the actual writing goes, I’d say that’s probably even easier than Word. The editor is intentionally simpler. Basic formatting, no bells and whistles. Just get in and write. That can be a stumbling block for some, if they are used to styling a lot while they write. Scrivener kind of rests upon the presumption that styling while you write is a distraction.

And of course, everyone is different. Some people pick this stuff up instantly. Since you use the card based philosophy in your mind already, you might take to some of its concepts more readily than one who is just accustomed to banging out all 100k words in Word. The notion of “pieces” and “hierarchy” where you have a card that represents a part with cards that represent chapters and cards that represent scenes “nested” within each other—and perhaps even deeper if need be. That’s the sort of thing I refer to as a conceptual or philosophical learning curve. Some never take to it and will never feel comfortable with the software; for others its an instant epiphany moment when it all clicks together and they realise the software isn’t actually all that complicated, it just works the way they’ve always meant to work but never could due to software constraints. Best advice I can give is to download the trial and work through the interactive tutorial in the Help menu. The tutorial is built into a live project, the same construct you’d be using to write your book if you choose to, and so navigating and fathoming how the tutorial project is put together, along with the text of the exercises within it, ought to give you a pretty good idea if it will be a match. When the tutorial gets to the topic, I’d recommend playing with using the e-book compile format a bit—maybe referencing with the user manual PDF to do so. See how it works, how an outline of cards can become a table of contents in an e-book. That experience, and how much friction you feel with it, will go a long way towards providing confidence in the software (or not!).

Scrivener is not Yet Another Software, it’s The Software. You’ll see.

I’m a new user and really like it. You can download a “trial” version and play around with it for a while and then make the decision to buy. FYI

Easily is going to be in the eye of the using beholder, but I have found it to be so.

Import is almost a no-brainer exercise–you tell it to import, and it does.

Getting text out is slightly more complicated because you have more choices.

You can do a straight Export. I’m not exactly sure what it does as I’ve never used it and can’t check at the moment, but I believe it just dumps files in your chosen format. I don’t remember if it does them individually or separately. You have a variety of options with it. (It may be primarily used for stuff in the Research aka Non-Draft folder).

You can do a Compile, which is the primary use of Scrivener when putting out text. Compile gives you a TON of options, from file format to modification of fonts/page setup/etc., to the ability to control how different documents interact with each other (i.e., do you want a new page for each document section, or something else?). Once you set up some favorite defaults, it becomes a pretty much one-click action, but can be a bit much at first.

And finally, if you absolutely have to, you can go directly into a project’s folder and steal from it the rtf files of the individual document parts to do with as you will. NOTE: Only do this if you never want to use Scrivener again for that project or are otherwise equally desperate. Scriv will not be happy with you if you modify its files behind its back.

As for files that will be publishable: are you planning on getting stuff into a submission format or into a self-published document? As AmberV said, it depends a lot on what you exactly need, and as I said, it’s about beholder eyes. You SHOULD be able to do what you want with Scrivener. Just depends on what it is and how much setup you are willing to do to get there.

I think that one of Scriv’s great strengths is the ability to write your stuff exactly as you like to work, then be able to auto-magically turn it into a format other people want. All without having to mess directly with how you like it. I can write it in neon blue 24-pt Comic Sans if I want, and with a push of the button, have Scriv give me a new file that is exactly how a publisher wants it, how the Kindle wants it, or in any other way I choose.



Thanks for the quick reply. I think from your reply that this is at least worth a shot. What I don’t want to happen is to get all done the writing process, and then have to find some way to convert to ebook formats, because I then find out I can’t get there from here, IYKWIM.

But I have several projects going on at once, though, so I have another question for you: how does this thing handle outlines? And by this I don’t mean outlining a story, I mean that I’m writing a how-to, and I’ve been working on it in Word, using the basic outline function. I am making a list of items for a person to go through . . . a check-list of sorts. I only need to go down maybe three or four levels (you know, 1., a. II., b., or however, as long as it’s clear that a. is a sub of 1, and such), and it doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be neat. If I import this Word .doc to continue, am I a) going to get a giant long string of items all squished together? and b) have any hope in the world of formatting it into something workable?

The rest of my stuff is generally prose - even in the how-to project - but it’s just a kind of list of items, including sub-divisions, that a person using my book will need to do.

So far this is sounding promising, as I have, until Win 7, used a bare-bones writing tool that saves everything in .rtf (for prose, anyway; for scripts I use Movie Magic), but I prefer it to Word because it has little areas you can use for notes, for scenes you think of before you’re actually to that place in the story (I almost never write in order!), for info you don’t want to forget about characters, and so forth. I like the idea of what I’ve read of Scrivener so far, because I read somewhere you can even bring in pictures and, I assume, other scanned materials, so I could scan in the diagram of the home of the family I’m writing about, rather than having to keep pulling it out of my file cabinet.

At any rate, I know I’m asking a lot of a software package, but it’s just annoying and time-consuming to have to switch all around for different functions! I’m happy to pay if I get something that’s useful!

My advice: Download the 30-days-of-use trial, which is fully functional until it expires, and then take the most complicated (typographically speaking) document that you find essential, and try to import it. Then come to the Tech Support forum here and ask for help, after you’ve gone over what seem like the relevant bits in the manual. Your outline may be an ideal testing document, as it’s typographically complex, and Scrivener may not be well suited to it.

As for the many things you’re working on, I’d transition slowly, probably with just one document you’re just getting started with, or one that doesn’t have a looming deadline. Panic is a terrible state of mind for learning a new writing tool. :slight_smile:

I’m just going to post one reply for everyone, but first I want to thank you all for replying.

Amber said:

I’ve never been all that comfortable working in Word. Or WordPerfect. It’s fine for business, and it’s straightforward enough that I’ve made due, but frankly, it’s too linear. I think you GET that, which is another reason I’m thinking this might work for me for most things.

And I’ve always considered styling a distraction, with the exception of scripts, as they have a language (and, thankfully a couple of programs) all their own. (And I think visually, so that’s a very natural way to tell a story for me, anyway.) Though I’ve even managed in WP/Word for those, for a very long time, until I found script software (I wrote my own macros that indented properly for dialogue, etc.), so I’m annoyingly used to having to bend myself into pretzels to work the way the software works. I’m a little tired of that, but what everyone here says has given me hope.

AndreasE said:

And Bill said:

Good to hear! May I ask what kind of writing you do?

I also see that Bill types a bit like me. It’s how I became known as “SUe.” :slight_smile:

jenb said:

So, if I understand correctly, I should be able to pull stuff in that I’m already working on (let me note here that I do very little formatting of prose as I write. Maybe underlining/italics occasionally for emphasis, and other than that, just paragraph indents and suchlike; I’m guessing Scriv can translate the basics?). And that once I work on or complete a project, I can export it to something for Kindle or other devices, and I assume it will allow me to tweak things somewhere along the way (I’ve had paragraphs run together where dialogue should be separated for different characters using conversion in the past, and that sort of thing I would just go in and poke at until it was clear which character was talking)?

Because those are my main concerns. With the exception of this one checklist thing for the how-to document (I hesitate to even call it a book . . . more of a guide, actually), that’s all I can think of that I really have had issues with in the past (not necessarily converting to ebooks, which is new to me, but in general).

I frequently do what I call a quick-n-dirty conversion to Kindle .mobi of a work in progress, so I can lie down and put my feet up and reread what I have so far just to get perspective and to get an idea of anything I wanted to touch on or include that I have forgotten, but that’s just for me, so format isn’t quite that vital. I figure I’ll do all the fancy stuff when I’m ready to publish.

I’m guessing that’s where a “compile” comes in, and I’ve never been clear on what that means, but I gather from the contexts in which I’ve seen that used that it means the method by which things are processed in some fashion that may be time-consuming (or not), in order to get the document/file/whatever into the shape/format you want it in.

And I get what you’re saying about screwing around with the files “behind its back,” but like you said, only if I decide it’s not for me, or if I make a copy of the file and take it from there, assuming I’m not going to edit it Elsewhere, and then bring it back, 'cause that usually ends badly.

Well, I’m planning on just going the e-publishing route, as we are in the 21st century, and if I’m going to spend any time looking for an agent, it would be for scripts, not prose, as it’s more important in that context. The how-to is a fairly specialized thing that I had to do, but didn’t find a really good guide by someone who had done it before (there were “workbook” type things, but nothing to the extent that I needed). So I figured, I’ve done this twice now, and perhaps others who have never done it could benefit from a guide, so why not self-publish and make it instantly available? So I’ll charge a couple of bucks and self-publish.

The other stuff is prose and fiction. (If I want to submit anything, again, it would be scripts, and the software for that - there are two or three major kinds - all enable you to instantly register with the WGA and either transmit to someone as a script or a .pdf format (like for an agent or a producer). IOW, it’s all instantly formatted for that, and you don’t have any screwing-around to do, you just write the script. This is probably why I assume it should be that easy with a novel, huh? :slight_smile:

Jen said:

That’s sounding good! It’s the way it should be!

robertdguthrie said:

Hehe, yeah, but deadlines are a great motivator! Though, granted, I tend to agree with you, and would probably never work on something, on deadline, in a new software. I don’t have that kind of luck. Usually, things break when I’m on deadline. When I was writing the final project for my TV Programming and Packaging class in school, my printer died and I had to get up at the crack of dawn to go on campus and print it out. That’s the kind of luck I have!

None of these are on deadline. I work freelance, and do my own projects when I don’t have assignments. So when I do get assignments, I go with the software and processes I know already will work!

But what you said makes sense. I think I shall download the free trial, and pull in the how-to project and see what happens. But even if that doesn’t go so great, that isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, since that’s an unusual type of project for me. This sounds like it works in the way I tend to work. For instance, I had a recent freelance project that a small business owner hired me to write, which involved writing in proper English (he spoke English as a second or third language) the events of how it happened that an employee was committing embezzlement, and he needed it in writing for his lawyer and/or the police, and when he told me what had happened, he skipped all over the place, adding things in as he remembered them. I just took notes and tried like hell to determine what went where. When I came back to my “office” (read: dining room:), I opened Movie Magic and started a bunch of index cards, adding to each as I arrived at new info that went with the various cards. I had to call and email him a few times to verify what happened when, but I managed to give each card an approximate time-frame (January 2010, Spring 2010, whatever), and then I printed out the index cards (I love Movie Magic!), not because I couldn’t switch them around on screen, but because it helped to have them physically, and cut them apart, putting them in the order that made the most sense. Then I went in and rearranged them, adding transitions and generally smoothing out the story as I knew it. I sent him a copy, he made minor corrections of fact (no, I forgot, that wasn’t Spring, it was Summer, or whatever), and I did a final edit, and poof! There it was! All inside of 24 hours! (Yep, I added a surcharge for that kind of turnaround!)

But the way I work in general, this sounds like it might replace both Rough Draft AND Word, as well as allowing me to output into something I can publish (again, I assume there will be tweaking; I just don’t want to have to learn how to code from scratch!), so I will maybe do as you suggest, but with TWO projects: the how-to one, and a regular story that will, hopefully, eventually be a novel.

Is there some other place to post any questions I need to ask along the way? Or should I just start a new TOPic (oh, man! I typed it that way without even thinking; any GEnie-ites hereabouts will understand!) in this CATegory (old habits!)?


Wish me luck!

And feel free to continue tossing out any advice you all might have. I’m not sure how to save this thread somewhere, but I may just cut and paste it so I don’t lose all your great info!

Thanks, everybody!


An aside: If I save a draft here, in this forum, where do I go to find it again to continue editing? I wanted to make sure I didn’t lose it by accident, and I just back-paged to find it, but I don’t know where to retrieve it if from if I need to.

Watch the tutorial videos and go through the tutorial project. Scrivener is wonderful – I recommend and use it for all projects more complicated than grocery lists – but it has a lot of features and a somewhat different operating metaphor relative to conventional word processors.

From what I’ve read in the forums, the two things that seem to give new users the most trouble are:

  • Separating the writing and formatting processes. With Word, it pays to spend time at the very beginning laying out a template with all your document styles. With Scrivener, it’s just easier to leave all but the most basic formatting to the end.

  • Wrapping their heads around the binder/notecard metaphor. For some people, breaking a piece into chunks that can be shuffled around as needed is the way they’ve been trying to work all their lives, and they get it instantly. For others, breaking free of the strictly linear, all in one document, follow the outline approach is harder.


If you’re the kind of writer who scribbles bits and pieces as the ideas come to you, and then assembles and polishes the bits into a coherent whole, you will wish you had been using this software all your life.

Cheers, Martin.
(Academic scribbler and assembler in history and psychology).

On the forum, if you save a draft of your response, you can get back to it by coming to the thread you were responding to and clicking the Reply button. Under the compose window, there will be a new ‘Load’ button, which will bring back the text.

For Scrivener: If you think you’re liking what you see, run through the interactive tutorial under the Help menu. It will give you a good tour of it’s capabilities, and introduce you to the terms that make asking questions on the forums easier to articulate.

Usage hint: If you want to save conversations like this, a Scrivener project devoted to miscellaneous scraps of info and ideas isn’t a bad way to go (assuming you’ve decided to buy Scrivener of course). I have a project devoted to random story ideas in various states from barely more than a title, all the way to a 2,000 word description or a brief outline of a plot. I also drag in inspirational pictures and informational web pages that have no connection to any one idea or plot.

If I decide to really flesh out an idea, I create a new project, open it and the Ideas project and then drag the story outline from the Ideas binder to the new project’s binder and go from there. Having all of those story seeds in one place is a lot handier than having them scattered around your computer, or even piled into a single folder, since opening a project file gives you instant access to everything within.

Currently using Scrivener for fictional book with a historical back ground, I’ve set up the Binder for characters, scenes, items, etc. and it makes the organizing Very easy.

Past writing was genealogy, history, how to, and technical writing.

Yeah, LAter is now the new "Later… :wink:

Hi again, all!

I have to say, just seeing the replies here have gone a long way to the fact that I have just downloaded, installed, and am just now diving into the tutorial. I was looking at another software package that is free, and from what I can tell is simply editing software to get a .doc into something publishable, and the people on that forum aren’t writers. They’re apparently programmers. I am not encouraged by the way they are talking, and even though I might need that software eventually to tweak things for publishing, I think they are wrong about something very important: they say that people are not willing to pay even $40 for decent software! I say they are mistaken! If this pans out, I’m willing to pay, and I assume you guys are, too, or you wouldn’t be here! (Sheesh! I paid a lot more for Movie Magic!). Besides, I don’t want to learn programming, I want to write!

Aaaanyway . . . I’m off to do the tutorial, and assuming I have no RLI, I will be back later or tomorrow to let you guys know how it’s going!

Thanks for all your help and encouragement!


I think you’ll find Scrivener pretty capable of most publishing jobs. I use it to edit a glossy literary magazine, a mixture of both fiction and nonfiction. I manage all the submissions in Scrivener, plan all the issues, import the authors’ Word (mostly) files and edit them, using marginal comments, then export in Word, email the manuscripts, bring their comments back in from Word and transfer their editorial changes, all without leaving Scrivener. I then export the files, in .doc format, to our production department 1500 miles away via FTP; they import them into InDesign, and num-num-num: a magazine happens.

I’ve also written 40 or 50 magazine columns in Scrivener and a book simply overflowing with too much research.

The only thing it doesn’t do is real page layout, but then it’s not supposed to. If prospective authors spent less time worrying how their manuscript looks and whether their writing environment is festooned with the right color of icons, and more time worrying about what they were trying to say and how they were trying to say it, I’d write a lot fewer dejection letters. All of them, of course, in Scrivener.


LOL! It IS a dejection letter to those writers!

But I agree. The only formatting crap I worry about is whether it will get output in a format that will be useful. I am more worried about the actual writing. I HATE the whole concept of writing things in Word when I have to pick a blasted template AHEAD of doing the actual writing. How the heck do I know what format it will need to be in until I write it? I organize things as I go, which then defines how I will eventually format. (And for stories/prose/novels, it’s pretty simple anyway.)

My biggest formatting quirk is that I need large type to write, and that I hate serifs! Some people just worry about the wrong things, you know?

Take care of the writing, I say, the formatting isn’t that important!

SUeMichele, who is going back to work, but is finding Scrivener friendly-enough so far 8)

Okay, so I have a lot of RLI, laundry to do, and so forth, so I am not as far long in this tutorial as I had hoped to be at this point.

But while I’m thinking of it, I have a question: I don’t see what they’re talking about in section 2, part 9 - or was that Part 2, Step 9, in the corkboard section. I can’t for the life of me find the place where you change things like the corners of the index cards, and, well, stuff in the following paragraph:

The Tutorial Says:

Not finding that, at all! Can someone tell me where the heck these things are located?

I guess I’ll go through the outline stuff, but I’m not even sure I will use that. . . .

Back to work for me! (And laundry, too. ::SIgh:: I don’t see a Smiley for resignation! :laughing: )


These options are located in Tools > Options Corkboard tab.

Hope that helps.

Tools/Options... menu item (or F12); and then in there you’ll find a Corkboard tab with all of this stuff. I’ve fixed the tutorial to explicitly state where the options are that it refers to. :slight_smile: I agree it was kind of vague.

I should’ve asked this previously, in the last post, but looking at the outliner section reminded me: there’s no way to view ALL index cards, at ALL levels, at once, is that correct? Or, barring that, is there a way to view ALL cards on a given level at a time?

To clarify, let me give an example.

Say I’m writing a TV script, and I’m using Scriv to organise it, rather than schlepping out ACTUAL index cards and my giant corkboards. 8) Now, for TV, I’m used to working in generally 5 acts, or some variation thereof (a teaser and 4 acts, 4 acts and a tag, whatever, depending upon the show). A movie is similar, just with more “acts” (in this case, unless you’re talking about a theatrical release, which is generally 3 acts, I use “act” as a descriptor for whatever comes between commercial breaks:). Since that is what I would call my “native” storytelling format, I see no reason that I wouldn’t tend to do the same thing with novels for planning purposes.

At any rate, though I would break things up into acts, or Parts, in Scrivener terminology, it would STILL be helpful to be able to see everything on ONE LEVEL, or, all the scenes, regardless of what act a scene were in. (This is because when writing for TV, a scene may need to be moved from one act to another to set up for an act-end, or just for simple logic you realize that it BELONGS somewhere other than where you originally stuck it.)

So, how would I go about representing this in Scrivener? What would be the best approach? If you can’t see all scenes’ cards REGARDLESS OF CONTAINING ACT, would be be best to just break down all your scenes first, then separate them into acts? And even if I do this, I still may need to move something from one act to another at some point, so CAN I move a card from one act to another? And if so, how?

Just some things that occurred to me as I was gong through this tutorial.

I have some other notes/questions, but I didn’t want to lose all the friendly folk who have been answering me here by starting a new TOPic. Can I rename this thread to “Specific Newbie Questions on Tutorial” or something more specific? Will I lose everyone who might be following?