On Scrivener…

Because I am the luckiest girl ever, I got a new computer for my birthday last week (thank you so much, amazing husband!). I got my last laptop just before my now-kindergartner learned to walk so I was due for an update, and I’ve been wanting a Mac for ages. My PC has served me well, facilitating the drafting of several manuscripts, hundreds of blogposts, and thousands of emails, but let’s face it… Macs are awesome.

The very first thing I did after getting my lovely new computer up and running was download Scrivener‘s thirty-day trial. I’ve heard so many amazing things about this little writing program, and I couldn’t wait to try it.

Try it I did… I’ve been plugging away at Scrivener’s tutorial for a few days and I’ve learned so much. While Scrivener is at first overwhelming and has been a challenge for this Microsoft Word girl to get used to, I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. I’m about to start a rewrite (or, as my agent so awesomely calls it: a “violent revision”) and Scrivener’s organizational tools have already aided  me in sorting through which already-written scenes are worth keeping, which will need to be rewritten, and what gaps will need to be filled in. Awesome, right?!

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I’m 99% sure that when my thirty-day trial expires I’ll be purchasing Scrivener. We’ve become fast friends, and I’m already having trouble imagining my writing life without it. Oh, and if, like me, you’re new to Scrivener, I recommend checking out Erin Bowman’s tutorials on the program: this one on outlining, and this one on character worksheets and the freeform cork board. I watched them both, and they were incredibly helpful.

Tell me: Have you tried Scrivener? What program do you prefer for outlining/drafting/revising? 


41 thoughts on “On Scrivener…

  1. Alison Miller says:

    What an awesome bday present! And have not tried Scrivener – heard many wonderful things – maybe some day. Have fun with your “violent revision!”

  2. Liz Parker (@LizParkerWrites) says:

    Oh I’m so glad you’ve found you like Scrivener! I’ve been using it for about a year and a half, and I love love love it. Have you discovered the name generator? That’s one of my favorite tools, and I just found it last week! Good luck with the violent revision 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      No, I have NOT discovered the name generator! I’m loving the sound of it, though, and I can’t wait to give it a go. Thanks for mentioning it, Liz, and if you have any other cool tips or tricks, definitely pass them my way.

    • katyupperman says:

      The glory of it is, you don’t have to be super organized. The program helps to organize you and your outline and your draft, and you can do it as top-level or in-depth as you choose. Pretty cool. You’ll have to let me know if you decide to give it a shot, Matt.

  3. zanne says:

    I would love to get a Mac someday! My laptop is great, but there is just something about Macs. I have not tried Scrivener. I would like to, but when I got my laptop last year, I was hesitant about buying any sort of writing program. I don’t even have Word, though! I have the free version of Word. Since I’ve been neglecting my WIP for months now, I couldn’t justify spending the money on Scrivener (or any program) but once I get back into it, I might just buy it. Good luck with your revisions!

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks, Zanne! When you dive back into writing, the Scrivener trial is definitely worth checking out. No commitment, and if you do decide to buy, everything you worked on under the trial transfers over.

  4. Erin L. Schneider says:

    Yay on the new MAC – and happy belated birthday! 🙂
    I’m fortunate to work on a MAC at my office, but I’m on a PC at home – so I love them both! And even though I’ve been an avid Word fan, I did purchase Scrivener just before Christmas – but I’m having the hardest time adjusting to it…even with all the tutorials, and man, there were a lot.
    However, I decided my new WiP will make the big jump and I’m looking forward to seeing what all it can do. Thanks for including Erin’s links – heading over there to check them out!
    And best of luck with your “violent revision” – can’t wait to hear how it all turns out!

    • James says:


      When you said there were a lot of tutorials, did you do the built-in one?

      I have found that most people who try to use supplementary tutorials without going through the built-in tutorial end up frustrated.

      To access the built-in tutorial:
      1. Start a new Scrivener Project
      2. Choose the Getting Started category of templates
      3. Select the tutorial template.
      4. Open.

      I hope this is helpful.

    • katyupperman says:

      I agree with James, Erin. The built-in tutorial is probably the best overall tutorial and it wasn’t too terribly overwhelming. Most of the other tutorials that are online seem to build on that basic knowledge. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

  5. Rachel says:

    Yay on the new Mac. Oh Katy….once you go Mac you don’t go back so welcome to a lifetime of Mac products 😉 I haven’t tried Scrivener but I hear sooo many good things about it – I may have to try one day. Good luck on your revisions – you’re gonna ace them!!!! 🙂 (if you ever want new new new eyes, let me know)

    • katyupperman says:

      I had a Mac ages ago when I was teaching and of course I love my iPhone, so I’m thrilled with my new computer. And thanks for your offer to read… I might have to take you up on that!

  6. Charles Dowdy (@CharlesWDowdy) says:

    Not sure I’ve done a “violent” revision before but that’s probably part of my problem. I tried Scrivener a while ago and it never caught on with me. I’m going to check out the tutorials you mentioned and give it another go. Great post!

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks so much, Charles! I have to say, I’ve done one other violent revision and it turned out to be the best thing I’ve produced to date. Scary, but so worth the trouble and time! Good luck with Scrivener… Hope you have good luck with it!

  7. Molly says:

    I love Scrivener! But I haven’t watched those tutorials so I’m going to check it out. I’m sure there are features I’m not using. There are so many possibilities!

    • katyupperman says:

      I know, Molly… I’m just getting started so I’m only taking advantage of the basics, but I can’t wait to dive deeper and discover all Scrivener has to offer.

  8. Jaime Morrow says:

    I have Scrivener on my computer and fiddled around with it a bit when I first got it, but I think I’m still a Word girl to the core. I guess I kind of felt like I wanted to stick with what I knew worked. Of course, there’s the fear that I’ll lose something messing around with an unfamiliar program too. Maybe one day I’ll get around to figuring it out, but for now I think I need to just keep plugging away on Word. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      I totally get that, Jaime. As a rule, I hate trying new things, especially if they’re risky. So far though, Scrivener has really impressed me. I’m hoping that eventually it will become as effortless as Word has always been.

  9. Carrie-Anne says:

    My family has been with the Mac since OS 1.0, back in ’84, so the thought of ever owning a PC is pretty anathema to us. I’m actually planning to buy back the ’84 and ’93 Macs I loved so much, on eBay, so I can finally type in peace on MacWriteII and ClarisWorks again. I’ve gotten used to Word over the last few years, but that doesn’t mean I love it. There are still many things I always have a problem with in Word, things that were so easy to find and execute in MacWriteII, AppleWorks, and ClarisWorks. Page numbering, for example, and leaving the title page blank. Although I do like some things, such as the ability to teach it your own autocorrects for frequent typos. I also love how you can delete fonts, something I wasn’t aware of with the older Macs.

    I’ve heard good things about Scrivener, though I’m old-fashioned and prefer to make notes and outlines by hand to refer back to later. My computer also has Pages, which I may start using later on. My old AppleWorks files were all converted into Pages when I belatedly transferred the files from my old eMac. At least I can directly open them, instead of going through the elaborate song and dance required to open, convert, and reformat the files on my old disks.

    • katyupperman says:

      You’re so well-versed in the world of Macs, Carrie-Anne. Color me impressed! Good luck buying back your old favorites. It sounds like you’re going to end up with a pretty amazing collection!

  10. Rebecca B says:

    Ha, I love the term “violent revision.”
    I love the idea of Scrivener, but the practice of it still scares me. I’m a lifelong, since-the-80s Mac person so I’m not a Microsoft fan at all–but Word has seen me through four manuscripts. It’s hard to shake up that process!

    • katyupperman says:

      Oh, Rebecca… I’m right there with you! I’ve been toying with the idea of trying Scrivener for ages. I hate trying new things, and I hate having to learn a whole new program when Word is working just fine. But. There is a whole lot more to Scrivener, as I’m slowly learning. The plotting/organizational tools alone are kind of blowing my mind!

  11. Erin Bowman (@erin_bowman) says:

    Oh, yay! I’m so glad you’re liking Scrivener, Katy. It’s not for everyone, but it seems that people who fall for it fall for it HARD. I definitely couldn’t write without it now that I’m hooked. In fact, I don’t know how I ever used to write!

    Anyway, happy birthday (again), and enjoy that new macbook pro! Thanks for linking to my tutorials as well! 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks, Erin. I think I’m getting more and more hooked the more I use Scrivener. I’m starting to wish I’d been able to try it earlier! Thank you for the awesome tutorials. The one on outline was particularly helpful to me. If you make more, I’ll definitely watch. 🙂

  12. Erin Funk says:

    I love Scrivener. It’s like my portable mini office. I’ve been using it for over a year, and I still don’t know how all the features work, but every once in a while I figure out something new and it reminds me all over again how great it is. I also taught my son how to use it for school research projects and it really helped him stay organized. Hope you find it as useful as I have!

    • katyupperman says:

      What a great idea to teach your son how to use Scrivener, Erin. Can you imagine having such a tool at your fingertips when we were in school? I can’t wait to be able to play with the program more… I know there are zillions of tricks and I’ve only just scratched the surface!

  13. Sara McClung says:

    When you’re more comfortable with it, I’d love to see a “How I Scrivener” post! I feel like we all use it differently, and I’m always fascinated to see what other ways other writers utilize the program!

    • katyupperman says:

      I was actually just thinking of that, Sara. I think that by the time I’m done with this crazy revision I’m only just starting to tackle, I’ll be much more comfortable and ready to share how I’ve learned to use Scrivener. Now I want to know all about how you use it!

  14. Elodie says:

    Wow your hubby gives GREAT presents 😀 😀 😀 😀 I’ve actually just started using Scrivener on my laptop and I’m already loving it. It somewhat seems easier to get everything in one place which is great for my commute. Plus, breaking those chapters the way I can now makes it all more “real” in a way as soon as I start typing. Can’t wait to hear more and some tips once you’ve spent some time using it ❤

    • katyupperman says:

      He does give great presents… He’s very thoughtful! I’m glad to know I’ve got a friend who is a fellow Scrivener newbie, Elodie. You’ll have to let me know if you discover any cool tricks. 🙂

  15. karibradley7 says:

    I see some familiar names, there! I so want you to get published and release those characters and romance to the masses. My sometimes type-A lover of organizational tricks side of me wants Scrivener for MYSELF, just for fun. 😉

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