I make notes everywhere, backs of envelopes, receipts, box tops. If pen or pencil will make an impression on it I will write on it. If I don’t lose the notes, I transcribe them or scan them for later use. When I research for a book I make notes, bookmark web pages, scan whole pages of books and I try to keep everything in one folder on my computer, but sometimes I still can’t find everything. I also like to keep my chapters separate, which can cause all sorts of other problems with keeping facts straight and combining them all when the book is near completion. I often have several windows of Word open at a time. And then there are the multiple versions of each chapter. It all makes for a rather circus-like situation.
A friend of mine (who, by the way has never seen my method, never been near my computer or my office, so I have to guess that my madness is apparent in my conversations and my writing) recently introduced me to a wonderful writing tool that is helping me to transform my confusion into sanity. Scrivener by Literature & Latte is an award winning tool for novelists. It’s not new and I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone on this blog has tried it, I’m often behind the curve, but if you haven’t heard of it before, do give it a look.
Scrivener is many things, but essentially it is a management system for documents, images, and everything else you might be using to create your novel. It allows you to break up your document as you wish, write synopses of each section of the document, associate images with sections of your document, and look at multiple sections at a time while maintaining your place in each section. You can take a snapshot of your document before a major change. Although the document may be fragmented, Scrivener will search the entire document for a key word. And you can work on multiple sections of the document as if they were one. For example, if you have separated paragraphs one and two, you can work still look at them as if they were one document while maintaining the separation. At the end of all your hard work, Scrivener can combine your selected fragments into one document.
Scrivener stores research documents and images, character descriptions and so on, all within easy reach.
Scrivener is not free, I paid $40 on Amazon, but I consider it a worthy investment for someone who works the way I work. It won’t help me retrieve the ideas I jotted on the top of the credit card application form right before I shredded it, but it has been great with organizing the notes I manage to keep and generally allowing me to work on the novel in chunks without worrying about losing my way.
Literature and Latte actually provide links to other applications that are useful to authors for whom Scrivener may not be the answer. You can view those links here.
I’m new to Scrivener, so I would love to hear if you have tried it and what your experience has been like.
(Originally posted to NovelSpaces.blogspot.com)