Diminishing Returns

Thanks to everyone for trying to help me get Scrivener to do what I want. I seem to be hitting diminishing returns and I need to get back to writing. I’m going to pass on Scrivener for now and go back to Word and make an application to post process the Word document to produce the results I need.

I think Scrivener is a great application and I find using it for writing much nicer and more efficient than Word. It’s just that I think my needs are pretty specific and seem to pull Scrivener in a direction it hasn’t gone before. Let me pass on a general explanation of what I’m trying to do and what I ran into. Maybe it will help Scrivener in future revisions.

First of all I’m writing a script. But it is really four different streams of text interleaved.

  1. Text for a voiceover for the video course I’m making
  2. Questions that the viewer of the video can use to test their comprehension of what they have seen
  3. Citations of reference material
  4. References to images and video clips

The first stream is the “script”. The other three can be thought of as stage direction. For example a reference to an image can be thought of as the stage direction “show this image when the speaker says the line that follows” sort of thing.

I want write them all interleaved because it is easier to write and proof them that way. At least for me I don’t write in pieces it just all tumbles out. I’m seeing pictures and references in my head as I type.

Scrivener, and a number of other products like Adobe Story, come all set for writing scripts with stage direction. However Scrivener and the other products are focused on making a printed script.

But my script not only has to produce a printed output, it also has to be processed by other tools as part of the workflow I go though to produce a video. For example the citations are fed into an Adobe Photoshop script to produce stylized drawings that are used in the video. The inline citations tell me where to put that image in the video.

Over all I’m looking for two things.

When I’m writing the script I want things to just flow, stream of consciousness style with as few “mechanics” getting in the way as possible.

Then when I’m done I want to press a button and get all the files the rest of my workflow needs.

Scrivener with its modular text, a way to keep track of all the flotsom and jetsom you collect when you write something, and a compiler seemed like it might be able to do that for me. But all the little odds 'n ends got in the way. I ran into a couple of bugs that don’t really matter that much for typical uses of Scrivener but really slowed me down… the leaky footnote, and the missing annotation marker. I can work around these but it reminds me that I’m pushing Scrivener out of its comfort zone and that I may find more bugs that are inconsequential to everyone but me.

So in the end I would have to post process the Scrivener output to get the files I want, and I can’t seem to get that smooth writing flow I want.

In a nutshell Scrivener is really focused on producing printed output but I need something that acts as a point in a workflow that produces text that other points in the workflow process further. Even though Scrivener gives me a better writing experience Word, Word is a better choice for post processing now that its internal format is schema defined XML.

But thanks again to everyone who helped.