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Writing tools – Scrivener

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Sometimes you need a piece of software that just lets you write. Sometimes you need a piece of software that lets you plan, organise, and edit. Sometimes you need both and the answer to your prayers is Scrivener.

I’m a big fan of Scrivener. A friend told me about it a couple of years ago and at first I wasn’t too interested – the Windows version didn’t seem as shiny as the Mac version and who needs another piece of software to help them write? I’d tried a few before and generally lost interest once it became clear they were designed to make me write one way and one way only.

Then I tried Scrivener, and became an instant convert.

Just to be clear, Scrivener doesn’t “force” you to do anything or write in a way you’re not comfortable with. It’s hugely feature-rich, but you don’t have to use the features. It works well just as a basic writing environment (especially if you hit F11 for a distraction-free screen) and it’ll compile your finished work into all sorts of useful formats including PDF and epub.

If you decide to explore, however – and I probably use 50% of its capabilities, if that – Scrivener becomes an incredibly powerful tool to help you organise your thoughts and easily edit your work.

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Those “cards” you see on the corkboard up there? They’re not just a way of organising your thoughts into something like a coherent order. They’re actual files – which means you can easily drag and drop cards to rearrange the order and the words move too. Editing made easy!

I particularly love the “Research” area, where I can create folders to organise different strands of research, mark up exactly what I need to do more work on, and quickly move from topic to topic whenever I need to check something.

Scrivener can handle all sorts of writing: fiction, non-fiction, screen-writing – you name it, there’s probably a template for it. Whether you’re writing a novel or a research paper, Scrivener can handle it. And it can pop out lots of stats for those of us who like to know exactly how our work’s going – and targets too.

You can try Scrivener for free and the full version is $40 (~£25).

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