Deals: Scrivener

If you didn't pick up Scrivener at half-off as part of the NaNoWriMo prizes last year, it's currently being offered at 20% off with the coupon code FESTIVAL courtesy of the 2012 Writer's Festival. There are also other programs for sale that I have not used.

If you've not used Scrivener, I highly recommend it. I didn't think I would like it, but it grew on me and now I feel that it's indispensable. Features I really love:

1. Being able to break up chapters across "cards" that can be moved around at will. Sure, you can copy and paste stuff around in Word, but this is really so much more elegant and I loved it for when I was experimenting in what order to place all the Foreword / Copyright / Trigger Warning / Table of Contents / Note to the Reader / Dedication stuff.

2. Being able to jot chapter notes on the front of the "cards" in order to view the entire novel outline at a glance is just delightful. (Organizing the "cards" in folders to get deeper categorization, like for an epic trilogy that you want to keep all in the same binder is also very groovy.)

3. Having "character sheets" for storing character descriptions and character images is so handy, but what I like even more is being able to highlight text in the novel, right-click, and then hit "Send To --> Frodo Baggins" and then you've just placed a copy of "he was a tiny fellow, with absurdly blue eyes and hair so curly you wanted to run your fingers through it the moment you met him" right there in his character portfolio so you will always have it available to refer to and you won't have to later hunt for WHAT COLOR WERE HIS EYES AGAIN?

4. The "compile into an ePUB" option isn't 100% intuitive and the output can still do with some tweaking in Sigil if you're a perfectionist like me, but it's currently (in my opinion) the easiest way to get a home-written novel into ePUB format at this time. (The second "easiest" way being to copy and paste plain text from Word into Sigil and then hunt down all the rich text, like italics, in the Word source document and manually jam them back into Sigil. I have done this, thrice, and it's a pain.)

9 comments:

JonathanPelikan said...

Yeesh, your recommendation and their sales pitch were enough to sell me; just purchased and downloaded the program. It sounds awesome. I'll probably edit this post as I derp around with it.

depizan said...

If only it had an app. As I do at least half my writing on my iPad, I absolutely need to have the same program on it and my computer. Scrivener sounds cool, but synching with writing apps is not the same as having its own app. *sigh*

Ana Mardoll said...

I hear you and wish for the same on Android. :(

They've been kicking around the idea of an iOS one, but it won't be for a long time, it sounds:

http://www.literatureandlatte.com/blog/?p=290

Jenna Moran said...

You can also get reasonable ePub conversion with:

* optional: copy Word file onto clipboard, dump into a blank Word file
* save the word file as RTF
* import the word file into calibre (free ePub reader and manager)
* convert it to ePub

(The first optional step helps reduce formatting errors like blank lines and . . . words that wrap at weird places, both because of invisible section-starting and section-ending that Word throws in as you edit things.)

I don't know if it's better or worse than Scrivener's version, since I'm just starting to experiment with Scrivener. If there's ever a case where Scrivener doesn't work, though, this is viable.

Ana Mardoll said...

I usually counsel people to avoid Calibre conversion IF the point is to sell the ePUB.

(I.e., Calibre conversion is fine if you're just going to read it on your eReader.)

The Calibre conversion adds a LOT of code overhead under the hood that can bite back when you start uploading the book to sell. Almost every store -- Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc. -- does a SECOND conversion from ePUB to ePUB as part of a validation check and all that extra Calibre coding can cause problems.

As for why the Calibre conversion is so bulky, I'm not sure. I just know that I've seen it take ePUBs that needed 5 classes and churn out over 100 classes, most of them functionally identical. It's a mystery to me why it does that.

The Scrivener conversion to ePUB also isn't as class-efficient as I would like, but it's a good magnitude better than Calibre in my experience.

Jenna Moran said...

Huh! Good to know. Thanks!

depizan said...

Even the pared down version it sounds like they're working on (and might, possibly, get out the end of this year) would be close enough for me, I think. So...perhaps they'll have that done in time for the NaNo trial/discount offers this year? *crosses fingers*

ZMiles said...

This looks incredibly useful, particularly the bit about being able to do the character sheets. I'll look into this. Thanks for the rec!

BaseDeltaZero said...

The main problem I have with it is it does *not* seem to work with speech recognition - at least the integral Windows Speech Recognition. It might be compatible with Dragon or the like, but I'm not going to buy a $200 program in the off chance it works.

Oooh, a new update just came out. Adds MathType (for Windows), drag-and-drop from Explorer/etc, customizable theming...

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