Two or three new uses for Scrivener

So the other day someone was trying to open a bank account in Botswana and the question came up, what documentation do you need? So the bank officer pulled out a thick binder from the shelf and opened the section on account opening-identification and looked at the forms and read the rules.

Scrivener can replace the binder, of course.

On another day someone was trying to find a hotel at heathrow and thought, if I had the clippings and web pages I printed out, it would be a simple matter to find a good one, all I have to do is pull the binder off the shelf.

Scrivener could replace that binder as well.

I’ll add scrapbooking, but I don’t have any experience with that hobby. It seems to me that Scrivener could easily be used. I’ve put reference materials into Scrivener, but I don’t know if you can just as easily pull materials (say, photos and pdf’s) out.

I realize that these are not core uses for Scrivener. Fair enough. For me, Scrivener has been great in that it has permitted me to quickly put together reference materials and create long documents in a profession that prizes plagiarism over originality. But the foregoing suggestions show that Scrivener has a practical side as well as a creative side.

It’s my theory that, past a certain point, the versatility of a well-designed application increases at something like the square of the number of features. Doubling the number of features doesn’t mean it can do twice as many things. It means it can do perhaps four times as many.

That’s definitely true of Scrivener 2.0. It’s rich set of features make it useful for purposes that extend far beyond a tool for writing novels or even books in general: journaling, tracking projects or whatever.

I sometimes think it’d be interesting if someone created a Scrivener reader application. Except for note taking, it’d have none of the writing capabilities, but it would allow readers to explore a book from varying angles. Want to follow the role of Paul? Display via keywords all the scenes in which is plays a role. Ditto with places or times. Readers could read a book they love in a dozen different ways.

Trouble ([size=50]1[/size]) with your proposal is that some of us old-fashioned ([size=50]2[/size]) writers are reluctant to cede that control to readers. Much as the democratic spirit wells up inside me, much as I champion – or at least cheer for – newly-found rights and privileges for all who belong to our species, the old internal ([size=50]3[/size]) self-important hack wants to have the definitive and final word on such matters.

  1. Granted, “trouble” is an ambivalent and heavily-freighted word.
  2. Well, old anyway.
  3. Infernal?


I rarely disagree with PJS, but as a teacher/critic, I think the idea of using Scrivener as a reader of texts is excellent. Tracking the appearance of a character or a phrase is quite valuable, especially if you can see the frequency in a chapter-sequence order, beginning to end.

On the other hand, concordance programs do this quite well, and some DIY tools are available, such as Glimpse. To see examples of author concordances, see

If a particular text is available in Gutenberg or Google Books, download it and convert it to RTF, using Calibre. Then import into Scrivener, break into chapters, and use Search or Collections to run an analysis.

Finally, much as I admire P’s rugged individuality, no author has the “definitive and final word” on the meaning of his/her text. The great books offer readers many possible layers of significance; that keeps them alive through the ages.

I’m a retired teacher, taking a break from learning to use Scrivener. The suggestion for a reader’s Scrivener should be made to Peter Mayer:

I tried to send him a memo, but couldn’t find where I posted his contact address. I’ll get back to this once I’ve got my novel imported to Scrivener, so I can finish it’s editing. We are all so separated by the concept that we are each in separate groups (disciplines) with little overlap. Time to break out of the boundary lines.