Scrivener for Windows

For all the years I’ve been writing—or wanting to write—and been on the web I’ve looked for software that might help me write better. I mean that exactly as it reads. I never purchased any of the gimmicky apps which purported to help you write a novel or a screenplay, but I did download and try the demos. I knew intuitively that software wouldn’t elevate my writing, but I hoped it might inspire me to write more. None of what I found did. Nearly every application I found wanted me to plug in the details of my characters: height, weight, eye color, and goals—like the first three mattered and like I knew the last. If I knew my characters’ goals I wouldn’t need your software. When I could fake a goal or when I just loremipsummed one up the results were nothing more than an mishmash of words I could have just as easily written on Post-it notes and then stuck around my monitor. A messy electronic mirror of my messy organic brain.

Along the way I ran into program which made more sense to me as a writer. Programs which help organize the pages and chapters and books. Sometimes these would also manage the submissions as well. YWriter stands prominently in my memory for that. I recognized the value of doing these things, but I didn’t see much value in these apps either because I could do all the organizing I needed with MS Word—for awhile WordPerfect—and a good directory structure. Considering how quickly I write, tracking submissions wasn’t a priority. The interfaces on these apps were an act of love not an act of UX.

Eventually I heard of Scrivener, and that it was for the Mac. I could look at screenshots, I could read reviews and raves, but I couldn’t touch it. Undeterred, I google “like scrivener for windows” every quarter or so. That search invariably coughed up BinderX or whatever that braindump mess is called. So many people seem to like that tool that it worries me I’ve not got the correct brain for it. But given what little I imagine is true about working writers I can’t see how any of them would stand for what comes across to me as a shoe box for postcards, a notepad, and a stubby pencil.

More recently I have found Q10, WriteMonkey, and Celtx. Q10 was great except it isn’t being actively developed. I use WriteMonkey daily and don’t recall why I hesitated dropping Q10 at the time. Celtx does its thing well, but, as much as I want to like it and want to need it, I just kinda like it and don’t really need it at all. As good as Scrivener for Windows is looking I doubt I’ll drop the pure black screen of WriteMonkey for Scrivener’s black text on white or other paper. I’ll copy and paste.

This beta version of Scrivener for Windows is tight so far. I’ve only run into one glitch; anything else I may have found clunky or odd can be attributed to having been born of Mac thinking or just developer style—I think. The interface is sleek and usable. The icons feel good. This is clearly professional software and I’ll consider spending money on it when that time comes.

As a developer I really like the idea that the software I use is aware of the related files I may need quick access to while working. The Binder pane comforts me, but it also confuses me. I understand how it works and what it does; I don’t know how I’ll employ it in the context of writing. When it comes to writing I’m not sure I need to have all writings located in well organized places. Looking back on my writing I can see where I would retro-organize what I already have written, but I don’t think I would have done that much organizing ahead of the writing.

Yesterday I wrote elsewhere.

513 words on day 571

Day 74: One Good Paragraph

I’ve been struggling with an offline way to write these posts. I am not satisfied with the for offline blogging tools like Qumana, LiveWriter, or ecto. I can’t exactly define why not. Mostly they feel barely a step above the built-in tool so why bother. I’ve practiced with Google Docs, but it didn’t seem to translate the title properly–or I messed it up.

On top of all that, I use multiple input computers so even if I could settle on a single offline tool I’d have to install it on all three comps and then I would have my posts all over the place still. I suspect I’ll have to look at the WP export output to see what it looks like. I don’t want to risk losing all this effort. For now the offline tool that gets the most use is DarkRoom. It can be a bit flakey considering its nothing more than a textpad clone with cool-factor. No offense.

I am going back through my “Blog This” posts from Flickr. I started to get concerned that I wasn’t fully understanding the contradictory “Blog This” and “All Rights Reserved” tags on some pictures I was seeing. When I see the ARR tag without the BT button I only link back. But when the BT button had not been disabled I assumed that was a choice made by the photographer. Turns out it’s not; they have to explicitly toggle both separately. I am going back and requesting permission where needed.

Pictures every once in a while will spice up the textual overload of this blog, but I am not able to get all the pictures I need for inspiration by myself. I am working on some subtle art for the background and I may punch up a few gentle colors in the right places. As easy as it’s supposed to be, I find the whole CSS thing to be difficult to navigate. Not difficult to figure out–well, not entirely–but difficult to navigate someone else’s stuff. I know there are tools out there, but I haven’t had the time or volume to learn how to use those to make it easier on me.

I did get the tags to display at the bottom of each post here. Now I just need to get back to getting back to updating those first forty posts with the proper tags or that big REGULAR over on the sidebar is going to be more and more out of place. I’ve given some consideration to dumping that tag altogether but haven’t gotten around to fully thinking that over.

Need a short paragraph to break up the medium sized run I got going here. This ought to do.

Speaking of paragraphs, I believe I need to better consider how I am breaking up that level of thought in my writing. For now I am getting away with simple chunking of thoughts. I need to better compose at the paragraph level. Lead with a good sentence support with the following ones. That’s a great new feature. Along with whatever creative inspiration hits me, I will include a succinct paragraph that very closely conforms to the prescribed paradigm. Let’s try one now…

The cat down climbed the tree. The great big tabby hung like it had been thrown there and stuck. The orange splatter of legs and arms and tail pointed nervously back to the pained face. The cat seemed to be pausing to ask itself why it had done this again. It continued to scrabble down the high trunk of the pine below the lowest limb, half backward and half sideways. It slipped another body length, turned inexpertly, and plummeted to the ground within a shower of bark. As best it could it landed well and recovered its dignity.

Word count: 625