Beginning of the End: Advice for Mixed Feelings

Keith et omnes,

I’m now at a stage of my book that is producing very mixed feelings in me.
I’ve submitted 12 of 16 Chaps to my publisher. The remaining four are in
various stages of completion, and are only a few weeks from submission.
This will have been a Scrivener draft stem to stern…

Which makes me very happy.


My editor has been working on the chaps she’s received, using the
publisher’s preferred approach — MS Word “track changes”. All changes
are to be tracked until the penultimate draft, at which point cleaned-up
Word files are saved for the proofers and designers.

I’m afraid this means that, once I complete the remaining four submission
chaps, I will have to say good-bye to Scriv for the duration of this project…

Which makes me very unhappy.

I need to work within the publisher’s framework, but I am loathe to give up
the beauties of Scriv for the beast of Word. Is there any advice anyone can
offer me? Failing advice, consolation?

Both happy and un,


I wonder if Word’s Compare Documents feature could work here as a go- between. If you are careful, it seems to me it would yield the same information as Track Changes would.

You would have to carefully keep copies of each version export to word, and also to keep the same export settings throughout (you could save those settings to be sure).


P.S. It is one thing for a publisher to want a certain resultant /output/, quite another thing to insist on anything which has the effect of dictating the tool you use to do any substantial amount of the /writing/. Hopefully, though, the work at that point will be just mechanical work–more like working on the car in the garage than like writing per se.

yeah, I’ve run into this with a couple of magazine editors who insist on using Word’s track changes and comments features. I admit they’re pretty useful, and I do have Word 2000 (provided by an old employer), so I went ahead and used Word from the point at which they began responding. I also made sure to save often, because, as always, Word crashed several times during this process. (No other app will crash my PowerBook.) It was such a drag to go back to the bad old days; my condolences.

Short of asking your editors to use Scrivener or rtf editing techniques (annotations and highlighting, colored text, strikethrough, etc.), which admittedly can nearly duplicate Word’s comments and change tracking functionality, the only other recourse I can think of is to maybe use NeoOffice? I don’t use it myself; can anyone confirm that it will allow users to use the track changes and comment features in exchanges with Word users? But you’d still be using an app that’s much less elegant than Scrivener.

Also, I’ve heard that it’s possible to duplicate some of Word’s comments functionality using pdf editing apps, though I’m not sure about track changes. If that’s true (and someone here will surely enlighten us), I guess that’d be another option, if you’re determined to avoid using Word. But dealing with pdfs seems like it’d be mighty clunky if you’re going to be rewriting.

TextWrangler has a handy “compare documents” feature, without the graphics and multiple-user support that Word offers (and only for text files, obviously). So it’s possible outside Word, but incorporating something similar into Scrivener might keep Keith from his novel a long, long time - unless there’s some amazing new stuff in 10.5 and the new Mac Office that helps.

Neither NeoOffice nor are capable of handling Word´s “Track changes” functionality correctly.

And, at least on Windows, the “Track changes” feature of new Word editions is not backwards compatible to older editions. I had a lot of trouble when a customer sent me Word files he had edited in Word 2003: I did only see part of his corrections when opening the files in Word 2000.


Agreed. I’m hoping my editor’s comments (haven’t seen them yet) will mean
that we’re at the tinkering stage, not major re-writes. Even so, I’d much
prefer to be able to do them in Scrivener. Presumably I can just copy what I
do in Word into new Scriv docs, but that would serve only as record keeping.
If anyone has experience working with Word Track Changes in conjunction
with Scrivener, I’d sure appreciate your counsel.



I think on this one you may just have to grit your teeth and jump. I recently did some editing using Word 2004 (first time doing any editing in ages) and found myself ruefully admitting that the change tracking and annotation features were really good.

If they request major rewrites (heaven forbid) it would make sense to import the changed Word files back into Scrivener but for minor edits it’s probably going to be too laborious and error-prone a process to move changes back into Scriv. Besides copy editors and proofers are very fond of their change histories. :slight_smile:


Well, the first thing I’d ask is if they care how you make the changes, or if they only care about the end result.

If the changes are major rewrites and/or style changes that affect the whole document, you might be able to make them in Scrivener. If all they care about is a big pile of paper that’s got their changes on it, there’s no reason you couldn’t make the changes in Scrivener.

Also, one bit of warning: I’ve seen Word get pokey on long-ish documents so save early and safe often if you have to make the changes.

Perhaps your editor would be amenable to a mixed strategy. Suppose that the editor’s comments turn out to be a mix of fidgetty stuff and some major rewrite stuff. It seems to me reasonable to request to do the major stuff in Scrivener (especially if the changes involve the rearrangement of material or connected modifications strung throughout the book–things Scrivener is especially good with). Then you can export to Word, do a single Comare Documents and then work forward with the fidgetty editing in Word with track changes enabled.

By the way…
If your editor’s comments are coming back in the form of annotations/comments in Word, Compare Documents will conveniently reinstate them. That is, if you export to Word and send to editor and this comes back with annotations…Then you work more in scrivener and export to word again and then use compare documents between the new word export and the one back from the editor, the document which results from the compare will have imported into it the editor’s original comments (plus, of course, markup on all the changes that have been made). This is good for you to, because you can review those comments in the document to make sure you hit all the points–or finish out the fidgetty ones, if you saved those for doing in Word.

Just might be a viable process. Though again, due care would be called for.


Addendum: In fact, now that I think about it, given that Compare Documents works the way it does (as decribed above), it looks to me like what your editor will be seeing on his or her end of the exchange will be the same either way, so you can decide how best to work it on your end. I am quite sure your editor does not give a flip how you do what you do, so long as the exchange between you happens in the prescribed manner.

Well, I know how painful it can be to have to move on from Scr., but really, you are using it exactly how I believe it was intended. Scr. is designed to be a development tool. I think it was always intended that the final product be polished off and then, as in your case, developed further in the editing process in a word processor. I have decided to use Word more often for this reason as well. It has things other programs don’t have. I can’t stand Word, I have to be honest. All that auto formatting crap drives me buggy. But it also does things I need done better than any other word processor at present, not the least of which is to be compatible with editors and readers.

So, I can offer no advice other than embrace the reality of the products you are using! Scr. is supposed to serve the exact function it seems it has for you. And now, sadly, it’s time for the project to go the next level. Which is actually quite exciting and wonderful! :slight_smile: But it does, I think, require moving on to your word processor.

Of course others may suggest ways of making it work with Scr. If so, I msyelf would be interested in seeing how they work. But bottom line for me is, life is too short to waste much time. I say keep it simple and go with what works best in that regard. That may mean project development and drafting in Scr. and finishing the process in Word.