question about TotallyWrite

??? How is Scrivener in this category? How does it offer magic solutions? How is it “strictly for amateurs”? Surely you don’t mean that? Mr Bywater, explain thyself!

I suspect he may have meant just that amateurs are a sizable part of the market, and there may not be a big enough market without them to sustain all of the software titles.

That is different to calling the software amateurish, or saying it is designed for or only works with amateurs.

If I am reading his meaning correctly, there is no shame in that. Everyone’s an amateur until they are a professional, and if your software helps more people take that step, or even makes it easier for them to enjoy and succeed at their hobby, that is still a good thing.

That it is equally useful to those who are professional, is proof that it is a well-designed and thought out piece of software, rather than a clever advertising campaign selling magic bullets to the gullible.

Oh, I’m not having a go - Mr Bywater has been very supportive of Scrivener and provided a nice testimonial, so I know he’s not belittling the software. :slight_smile: I was just querying the exact meaning, being dense and thus inclined for clarifications in general…
All the best,

It seemed clear to me. He was saying the Dramatica school of crap was for amateurs while the considerable presence of amateurs in the Scrivener user base was essential to make a very different and much more useful piece of software viable.

PS. About Derrida. He knew Foucault.

What bodsham said. Exactly the way I read it.


My long journey into the Writing Software forrest is now over. I spent a good part of this year fussing with pretty much every Mac writing app out there, and I’ve made some personal decisions about my approach. Thought I’d share some of my observations, for what they’re worth:

Note: I write for a living; I have no other job. I write TV commercials (freelance) to pay the rent, I have sold two screenplays and am working (for pay) on a third. Just so you know where I’m coming from.

The Workflow I’m Sticking To In 2009 If It Kills Me

Pen & Paper > OmniOutliner > Scrivener > Final Draft (screenplay formatting) or Nisus Writer Pro (formatting everything else)

Pen & Paper

Not an app, but the first stage of my new workflow. I just can’t live without a black, sprial-bound Rhodia Classic and a decent pen. It’s where my thoughts and outlines all begin.

OmniOutliner Pro

The second stage of my current workflow. It’s how my handwritten outlines get onto my computer, and I use it to plan what my eventual Scrivener binder will look like. I played with the outliner in Circus Ponies Notebook (which, if you’re looking for a Mac-based notebook app, is a great choice), but found OmniOutliner to be both simpler and more complex, if that makes sense.


I moved away from Scriv for my most recent screenplay, as I was sending the thing in Final Draft-formatted chunks, and Scriv’s FD export is not yet where I want it to be. The thing is, I miss Scrivener. It really is a brilliant app. Writing in Scrivener feels like writing – not merely organizing thoughts. This forum is filled with writers singing Scrivener’s praises. They’re right.

So, after my 2008 dalliance with the competition, I intend to return to Scrivener full time with the release of the new version. I have an idea for a play, a novel, and one more movie script, and Scrivener 2.0 (1.5? Whatever.) is where I want to spend my days.

Montage (vs. Final Draft)

With 1.5, Montage is now a mature and immensely enjoyable script-formatting application. I think Montage is on track to eventually replace Final Draft as an industry standard. “On track” as in: “it’s not caught up yet.” Producers still rely on FD for its its production tools, and – ugly as it is – one would be foolish to abandon it altogether. FD truly is the MS Word of the screenwriting world.

The good news is, Montage imports and exports FD files easily. For the sake of simplicity, I plan to live in Scrivener as long as possible, with the sincere hope that I wont have to leave it until I am ready to export to FD as a final. Montage will be my safety net, though – a fine second option, should Scrivener not work as seamlessly as I hope. I plan to keep up with Montage’s development, with an eye toward the day when I can abandon FD outright.

Notes on some other stuff (and why I chose to post this in this thread)


Now we come to this thread’s controversy. I’ve beta-tested Contour, and it’s quite good at what it does. I have found, however, that I don’t particularly need what it does – and, in fact, find it too restrictive (and yes, too paint-by numbers) for writing. To tell the truth, filling in Contour’s blanks at the new-idea stage – where I haven’t had the chance to ruin a concept with my meager talent, where everything is still fresh and unique and infinite – is pretty goddam depressing.

That said: I find Contour potentially useful as a pitch tool. I won’t use it to write, but it’s an instructive way to look at a finished script. It’s almost like having a rabidly Aristotlean producer/editor on your side – it holds the finished product up to it’s rigid parameters, and allows you to see the underlying structure more clearly. Would I change a story element just to conform to Contour’s ways? Doubt it. But if I’m headed into a meeting with a producer, I think an import into Contour might be a good way to prepare. Lord Lightning is right: if the language of the industry is this kind of structure, it’s a good idea to know that language.


Well made. Nice to look at. Superfluous in a world with Scrivener.


The best app I never use. I like its looks, its functionality and its open-source politics. I’m just not quite ready to live in the could yet.


So fucking genius, I’m willing to overlook the fact that I can’t really find a good use for it. But I really try. I use it to store random story ideas, to write and save long online posts (like this one), and if I had a blog, I bet I’d use it for that too. Best. Icon. Ever.


It’s SO cool! love it! I’m not nearly smart enough to use it!

My only question about your process is why you need OmniOutliner.
You can start a Scriv project and place all of your early notes in the Research folder.
They’re in an outline form and you may copy a set for developing in the Draft folder.
I know, to each his own, but the use of OO strikes me as a little redundant.

I second Druid’s question. In the B.S. (that’s “before Scrivener,” of course – what did you think I meant?) days, I relied heavily on OO, and I still really like it. But after a few tries using both, I just found that step redundant. Still, I kinda miss it. What does it give you that using Scrivener’s Binder or Outliner doesn’t?

Hi there,

I, too, move through the motions and employ OmniOutliner before going into Scrivener-mode. Probably an old habit hard to shake off. I just like to lay down my hand-written notes in OO, refining them, before adapting them to the binder.

Actually, my workflow looks pretty similar to Sean Coffee’s, apart from not-writing screenplays, but fiction. Funny how these things work out.

Something I wanted to reiterate, or rather, point out:

Same here. I’ve tried a helluvalot of “Writing Applications”, and well, even the one I liked most before Scrivener – that is, Avenir, StoryMill’s father – forced me to damn organise too damn many bloody things. With Scrivener, I just add a sheet in the “research” binder describing my characters. With StoryMill and other applications, I afterwards spend too much time thinking about what meta-data to add and how to interlink them. Or set dates and times in the Timeline view. Stuff I should already know about if I set down to the task of writing a novel. Stuff that sounds sensible at first, but which I never, ever, really needed in the end.

I don’t want to diss Todd, not at all. I still think StoryMill is a great application. But I realised that, for me, less is more. Simply because I write more in the end. And spend less time organising my snippets. Others may see the whole thing differently.

Thanks, Coffee, for your approach on Contour. Sounds like something I might want to try out in the revision process. :slight_smile:


Why “Pro”? I am still wondering what “Pro” adds useful to OmniOutliner. (What I miss in OO, BTW, and would pay for is a filtering function - “show only lines with XXX in column YYY”)


I don’t think the notes themselves are in the outline but rather the title and synopsis. I think that is absolutely fine but personally I like to sketch out the thing in Omni Outliner Pro first because any text that is there is more readily viewable.

I think the outlining function of Scrivener is great when you are re-organising later in the project, but for me not so good for skecthing the thing out initially.


Here’s the feature comparison at Omni Group website:

Okay, I know you might say: well what is there of any use?

The only thing I haven’t used yet is Export Plug-Ins and I’m going to investigate this one soon and cook something up :slight_smile:

I use Folded Editing, Sections, Named Styles, Multiple Saved Templates all the time with OO.

I have found the Clipping Service to be of great use on occasion.

Omni Outliner Pro is probably my most used application.

Scriv’s outlining is great if you have no need to share it with anyone else. That’s not always the case with my work. So I outline in OO, which prints and saves as a PDF etc. in a much more presentable form.

There’s also something to be said for the tedious process of re-copying an outline. I don’t know about you, but nothing bogs my writing down more than not knowing the story cold. I’m all for happy accidents and letting my characters “find their own way”, but I’ve found that rarely happens when I don’t have a workable version of the story down pat first. As they say, the harder I work, the luckier I get. Re-copying the outline into scriv tends to root the thing in my brain.

If you ask my wife this question, she’ll tell you it’s because I spend money like a drunken sailor. She’s wrong. I don’t sail.