Scrivener, q10 and Word, oh my!

One of the winner’s goodies recently for Nanowrimo is a 50% off coupon for Scrivener, so I figured, hey, it’s only twenty bucks and picked myself up a copy. I’ve been playing with it all week, trying to get to know it and the best ways to use it. (I even googled “how I use Scrivener” for ideas on that score. I got some good tips, won’t deny it.)

I’m not in love with it yet. I can see why people are and I can see how to use a lot of the tools and features, but it hasn’t quite won me over as a composition tool yet. The scene-based approach is counter-intuitive to the way I write, at least for rough drafts. I like to write straight through, and then go back in subsequent drafts and reorder scenes and conversations as necessary. I spent some time last night getting the rough draft of my June Nanowrimo project divided up by scenes, but since most of what I’m planning to do next is rewriting the beginning…well, I don’t know.

MS Word has been my tool of composition and editing for a while. I used OpenOffice for years (WordPerfect before that, until the newer operating systems would no longer function with it), but then needed the reviewing and commenting features of Word for editing for publication. (OpenOffice has been discontinued; its successor is called LibreOffice. It does many of the same things MS Office does.) My favorite thing about MS Office, since the 2007 version, is the application OneNote, which I use for site passwords, picture collections, publisher open calls and submissions, story notes…basically everything that requires some sort of organization. It does a lot of things Scrivener does, in fact.

So, instead of having two or three applications open, I can just have one. If you like to have iTunes playing while writing, like I do, reducing the RAM usage is always good, since iTunes is not a low-usage application, either.

Another advantage, however small, is that once a document gets to be a certain size (say, 50,000 words or more) Word starts lagging. More so if you’re using the reviewing features and have made a lot of changes. Scrivener, being basically a plain text editor, doesn’t have that problem (so far); and if you divide everything by chapters and /or scenes, it should never come up.

Still, I’m not sold on dividing everything up just yet. I like having a story in a single file–for a complete word count, for reviewing past scenes, for the nearest you can get in electronic creation to that stack of paper you used to accumulate when using a typewriter.

Enter q10. It’s a plain text editor, minimum whistles and bells, though it does have a spell check. Confession: my favorite thing about it is not the full-screen composition area (though it’s really great–I am easily distracted by shiny things, and the full-screen space reduces shiny things) but the optional typewriter sound effects. I learned to type on one of those old clunkers with each letter on a separate arm, and spent my first two years of college composing my papers on the same typewriter my mother took with her back in the ’50s. I love the click-click of typewriter keys. I miss that particular noise with modern keyboards, where a soft touch seems to be the ultimate goal. (There’s no ding when you hit the end of a line, though. That’s the only thing I’d add.)

Scrivener has screenplay features, too. I haven’t fiddled with them enough to see how they compare to Celtx, which has been a tried-and-true tool for my occasional forays into screenwriting. Scrivener has compatible formats to Final Draft, which is the industry standard; but I’m not investing in that particular software until I know the screenwriting thing may actually pay off. Like, after I’ve sold a screenplay or two. I think Celtx will get to me that point reliably.

So, with the next big story I expect to rewrite in Scrivener, and edit and format in Word, and keep composing in q10. I gotta have my noise.

I haven’t found the perfect writing tool yet. I’m not sure it exists, but it’s fun to hunt for.

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