Non-Fiction Writers?

Just wondering how many Non-Fiction writers are out there using Scrivener?

As Non-Fiction writers, what Scrivener features do you find most helpful in your writing, and how has Scrivener helped you to complete your writing, and get your writing noticed?

Many of the features I love about using Scriv for fiction are also things that make writing non-fiction easier too. However, one that stands out for me as being awesomely helpful for non-fiction is the Outliner. The ability to use a folder-based binder structure to enable me to visually nest topics, combined with the Outliner, is a great way to chart out the bones of non-fiction work, and then move things around to test them.

It’s actually quite a neat extrapolation of one of the fundamental principles of Scrivener: Write in the way that’s easiest for you to write in, then format in the way that’s best for the output. I can set up a document structure in the binder that suits how I’ve researched or developed an idea (ie what works for my brain) and write the content accordingly. I can then very quickly reshuffle sections, disaggregate ideas and regroup them in a completely different order to make the best possible logical flow for the intended audience.

Pretty cool.


I was fortunate to discover Scrivener pretty early in its existence, and in those many years, I’ve co authored one nonfiction book with it, and used it to write literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of nonfiction stories, from short news items to multi-thousand word works of narrative/dramatic nonfiction.

As pigfender explained well, the main value of Scrivener for me has always been the ability to write in chunks, to easily move those chunks around, and thereby to see how different structures work for any story I write. The way Scrivener turns the Binder into both an outliner and structure manager is its fundamental superpower, for my purposes at least. It makes it easy for me to just write down a bunch of ideas/points, flesh them out while keeping those details separate from the outline itself, and at any stage in the process, move them around until I’m happy with the structure.

In drafting stories, I also regularly use Document Notes (pasting relevant source material into the Notes area of each document I’m working on), annotations, typewriter scrolling, etc. etc.

Along with these advantages for writing itself, I value Scrivener’s info management — keeping source documents in a project. Of course I can use the Finder, or Files, for that, but somehow it’s easier to collect all source material inside the project.

I’m not qualified to understand why, but I also appreciate Scrivener’s functional design, which lends itself to relatively easy management and organization of large volumes of information that journalists like me collect. It just makes me feel good to start a project, import my source material, and have it all laid out there in front of me in a way that’s easy and even fun to work with. I’m sure some of the comfort comes from familiarity, but I’m also familiar with a lot of other apps that give me much less positive feelings when I open them!

Scrivener has greatly abetted my career as a journalist, and now I’m also using it to write plays. Along with email, browser, and maybe a few other basics, it’s the most valuable app I use, and I’m deeply grateful to Keith, the other developers and staff, and this community for making it happen.