Problems at first

I’m trying to figure this program out. This is very frustrating and user unfriendly. Just wondering how many others had problems with Scrivener. I’ll keep plugging away but my patience is wearing thin. :frowning:

Have you done the interactive tutorial?

Yes. I went through the interactive tutorial once and was going to do it again, but it no longer shows up when I click on it. This program is very unfriendly. Just getting frustrated. I guess I’m going back to Word and spiral notebooks.

When you did the tutorial the first time you saved it somewhere. Delete it and you can start all over, or open the old tutorial project.

It’s got a learning curve because it’s completely different from Word. It’s nothing like Word, so you need to learn it, just like you once learned to use Word

What specifically are you trying to do?

Lots of helpful people visit the forums, but it’s difficult to offer suggestions without knowing what the problem task might be.


The problem is that its just does not flow well. It is difficult to figure out. It is not simple. Simplicity is the key. I’ve spent days on this and its just not working. It’s like trying to use DOS all over again. Not good.

What is it that doesn’t flow?

Scrivener is a totally different way of doing things, when it comes to writing. I would hesitate to call it a “word processor”–It’s more an “idea processor” in a lot of ways.

Big problem I find with a lot of programs, Scrivener included, is that the parties creating/writing the software often don’t lay out how they are approaching the problem. Contrast Word with Wordperfect, if you can remember that far back. Word was originally a graphic program WYSIWYG paradigm, while Wordperfect was a text-then-format sort of affair. You didn’t get WYSIWYG until around version 6, and by then it was dying as a program. If you add Describe (an OS/2 program) and things like Amipro and InDesign or PageMaker, the whole thing really becomes quite clearly psychotic–Every one of these putative “word processing” programs approached the idea of processing words and writing from different angles, and yet they never bothered to explain to the new user the overall “one over the world” idea of just how they’d approached the issues of word processing. You try to understand what they were doing, and it could drive you mad. The only exception being Wordperfect, whose “reveal codes” approach should have become an industry standard. I can’t recall a single Wordperfect document that I ever had really major problems with–If you found an issue, hit “reveal codes” , and everything under the hood was visible. With Word, for example? Oh, sweet babbling baby Jeebus… You move one graphic element, and an entire document could collapse inexplicably under the weight of the cascading style changes. And, good luck finding it. Word is opaque; Word is incomprehensible in a lot of fundamental ways, ways that go right back to the foundation of the program. I’ve engaged with Word gurus who’ve been able to fix things, and when asked how they know about that “feature”, they just look at you puzzled-like and say something like “Well, that’s the way it was with version Six…”. Meanwhile, that feature/issue isn’t anywhere to be found in the current documentation, which is maddening. And, unless you were around to trace the paradigm through from experience with the program going back to version One, good freakin’ luck figuring it all out. Word isn’t so much a word processing program as it is an ever-evolving parasite on Office and Windows, from my point of view. I’ve got friends over at Microsoft who use Word constantly, and who also have to occasionally run down the specific programmer who did some module for help making it do what they want it to.

All that is to say that Scrivener is a program specific to the needs of an author, designed with a specific way of doing business in mind. It’s not meant to be a casual tool for everyone–It does things that you simply don’t need if all you’re doing is running up a couple of paragraphs of prose for something. But, if you take the time to run through the tutorials and try to understand how the designer/programmer looked at doing the work, it makes sense.

Having said that, I do have to admit that sometimes I find myself wishing that the folks behind the program would lay things out more clearly. There are a lot of assumptions that I think the authors of the tutorial and the manual have made, because these are things that they already know and understand. It might be of value to find a brand-new user now and then, and run them through it all, asking questions about what they understand or don’t understand, in order to get a grasp on what things look like to the neophyte on first exposure to Scrivener.

The challenge is that Scrivener is designed to accommodate many different ways of working, and many different genres. So it’s hard to choose a “representative” example when writing tutorials and such. My top suggestions for new users are:

  1. Do the tutorial.

  2. You don’t have to learn all the features of Scrivener in order to start.

  3. There is no mess so horrible that it can’t be fixed, or at least reverted, with a good backup. So go ahead and make a mess.

  4. Ask questions, but be specific. We can’t help if we don’t know what you’re trying to do.


I’m one of those who didn’t find Scrivener all that difficult to get started with. Maybe because I still use WordPerfect? :astonished: I did go through the Tutorial, and skipped and skimmed anything I didn’t need to know right that minute. Then I imported a 3-chapter short and played with it for awhile. After that I was good to go, admittedly in a very basic way. I look up how-to on different features as I need them and read here because different threads sometimes make me aware of something I could use.

It also helps that I have no need to know fancy ins and outs of Compile. Once something’s ready for final editing and proofreading, so long as I can get my work out of it in a format WordPerfect can call up, I can clean up and format anything there. Not only does WP have Reveal Codes, it let’s you do Find and Replace or Find and Zap on any code. I did get to where I could compile a decent ebook for my beta readers under the Windows 1.? version, but stories of how Scriv produced ebooks that showed a messed up Look Inside on Amazon kept me using other programs for the final ebook file, which IMO is easier than putting an edited file back in Scrivener anyway.

Rave reviews eventually led me to abandon the program I used for formatting ebooks for Vellum. Of course people who act as if the price of Scrivener requires taking out a loan and they’re entitled to a Windows version of any program aren’t going to be interested in Vellum.

Ok. Thanks for the helpful information. I’m making headway on learning how Scrivener works. The light bulb went partially on. I am seeing the light on things one step at a time. It is a different way of doing things.

I’ve been following this discussion, and I just want to encourage you to keep making progress like this. I think it’s natural to have “light bulb moments” when things get clearer as you work on specific tasks within your writing process. I also think Katherine’s remark that you don’t have to learn everything to start using Scrivener is important. I don’t write novels or screen plays, so I’ve learned the parts of Scrivener that I need for my particular purposes, and try not to concern myself with the ones that I don’t need.