I've been promising a post on Scrivener for a while.
Last week I was adding a character into a chapter. I was trying to figure out how she'd enter the scene, so I jumped to a jpg map of the house I've created. Then I changed my screen view so I could see my chapter on the top of my screen, the house map on the bottom. Once I finished the scene, I pulled up my to-do list and crossed that item off. I did all of these things without ever exiting Scrivener, and without opening any other pieces of software. And it suddenly occurred to me: if it weren't for Scrivener, that would have taken twice as long.
I'm pretty stressed right now, overwhelmed with my revision... imagine where I'd be without Scrivener? A sea of sticky notes, pencil smears and piles of notebooks. And much much unhappier.
So what is Scrivener? It's a Mac program (sorry PC people!) designed specifically for writers. I can import text documents, images, and pdfs into folders. I have a folder for the novel itself, one for critiques I've received, one for resources, one for scenes and chapters I've cut. As I said above, I can manipulate the screen so I view two files at once. Scrivener also has a Full Screen mode that blacks out everything else (the internet, other files, Scrivener's menus) so I can concentrate solely on my text. I can tag characters and settings, I can mark a draft as rough, revised, or finished. For each file, I have a place to write notes, and I also have a notes section for the project as a whole. A feature called Snapshot lets me capture the text of a file, so I can rewrite without worrying I'll lose everything if I change my mind (and if I do I can revert back to my earlier version). I can view all of my chapters on the screen in front of me as note cards on a bulletin board (and move and switch them around, just like on a bulletin board, too).
I could go on and on and on. If you're interested, Scrivener has information on all of these features (with pictures) and more on their website.
Scrivener is like my brain. Or my personal assistant. Anything I think to upload is there, easy to find. Besides jpg maps of the house, I've included resources like a Chicago bus schedule, images of my characters, the first chapter of a book similar to Project Sparkle which has been a great inspiration (available for free online), a list of characters, links to online articles. As I told someone recently, if I were to imagine the perfect tool for my writing, Scrivener is pretty close to what I would have imagined. While I had to sit down with the tutorial and spend some extra time figuring out features, it has been fairly easy to learn. It's user friendly and does almost everything I can think to want. Plus, it can be used for any type of writing, academic, script, school.
You can download it online for a 30-day free trial. If you like it, it's available for purchase online at just under $40 (version 2.0 will be unveiled this fall). And no, I don't work for Scrivener, I have no affiliation with Scrivener. I had the trial version for three days before I bought the entire thing for embarking on Project Sparkle. It has streamlined and simplified my writing life. I'm totally 100% in love.