I write a lot.
My manuscripts are full of notations. I have outside folders of notes on edits and further ideas, dictionaries of special words, encyclopedias of places and customs and philosophies that spring half formed out of the first draft and need to be refined in subsequent versions. I use mind maps to see the plot unfold, decision by decision. I use multi color index cards on three large cork boards in my studio for scene descriptions, scene intentions, plot points. I have folders of scenes written, scenes proposed, scenes I’ve pulled that I might use in another project. I have multiple drafts in play that I’m actively cutting and pasting from, often in a new redraft. I’ve many many times the length of my manuscript set into these other documents that I’m constantly pulling from, adding to, or changing over time.
I’ve always used multiple writing programs to serve my projects–I could never find one that could handle so many differing needs efficiently. It was somehow easier to draft in one program, research in another, just to keep them separate. But even so, finding things…ah well. Finding things, sometimes easy, other times not. Time wasted in opening a ton of documents to find that one reference I vaguely remembered but now needed to know in certainty.
Scrivener, lovely Scrivener can do almost all of it, in one place. Is it work to link up all those files? Yes. But what a joy to click on a word and have that research open itself up in its own editing window. How fantastically wonderful to have all my chapters open up in one long readable document, make changes, and still keep them in separate files for in depth edits.
It’s visually intuitive. Clean and thoughtfully designed. I’ve got constant access to my folders, full page capability if I just want to write and not think about the other stuff. I’m like an old writer who had paper file box after paper file box of research tucked in my basement and somebody overnight came in and digitized the whole thing. All I have to do is click a word in my clean manuscript and suddenly everything I need to know is right there at my fingertips. Pure magic. Pure win. I put Scrivener up there with my Cintiq in terms of drastically changing my work flow for the better. I can’t recommend it enough.