Tools for writers remain a weakness of mine (otherwise I’m perfect, dammit), and while it happens rarely enough, using the Ubuntu Linux operating system occasionally denies me access to a Mac-or-Windoze-only tool like Scrivener.
Underground Fav SF novelist Charlie Stross posted a short, sweet “how it worked for me” review of Scrivener software, and I read it with some interest:
I’ve used it before on several novels, notably ones where the plot got so gnarly and tangled up that I badly needed a tool for refactoring plot strands, but the novel I’ve finished, “Neptune’s Brood”, is the first one that was written from start to finish in Scrivener, because I have a long-standing prejudice against entrusting all my data to a proprietary application, however good it might be. That Scrivener was good enough to drag me reluctantly in is probably newsworthy in and of itself.
Keep in mind that Stross is happiest writing in a powerful, fast programmer’s text editor, so using what amounts to a complex, proprietary piece of software (one with a somewhat cluttered interface and a relatively weak editor) says a lot about its capabilities.
Then Uber-screenwriter John August finished a feature-length screenplay in Scrivener. He liked it, but not enough to use it again (you’ll find his discussion about 1/3 of the way through this transcript of the podcast, or just listen to his always-interesting podcast here).
Scrivener organizes text on the level of a scene or chapter and allows you to move, cut, paste or reorder those scenes. It also helps organize your research files.
The benefits to novelists, screenwriters, or other long-form writers seem obvious, and they might outweigh the disadvantages (complexity).
But does Scrivener offer much juice to your average copywriter?
First, development of Windows and Linux versions of Scrivener are underway, though sadly the Linux version lags a little and a 64-bit version hasn’t even been released. So I can’t really test-drive it and see.
That said, I doubt Scrivener offers much juice to your average copywriter; most projects aren’t complex enough to justify the learning curve or overhead, though it’s possible long-form letter copywriters would benefit.
That said, tools like this — which organize instead of simply record — are clearly on the rise, especially given the information-rich environment facing today’s writers.
What would make these tools truly useful would be the ability to seamlessly interface your own editor within their organizational framework.
In other words, when I typed words into a Scrivener text box, I’d be typing within the confines of my editor of choice (Emacs, Komodo, etc). That offers me productivity boosters like keyboard navigation, snippets, on-demand autocomplete and others within a useful environment.
Any copywriters using Scrivener or similar writing tools care to check in?
Keep writing (on whatever), Tom Chandler.