Joseph Giddings' Gear Shop

Tools of the Trade

Yesterday morning I started writing a story.  I know, a freaking miracle.  However, about a page in I realized that this was a fine time to get Scrivener installed and learn how to use it properly.  So I download it, install it, and start working through the tutorial.  Hours later (spread over the course of a day, finally finishing this morning), I was drowning in way too many features and way too much information. How much writing did I get finished during this time?

Absolutely none.

However, once I completed the tutorial I felt I was ready to start getting into the story.  I start a new project and get ready to write.  I look in the binder and I am immediately awash in a load of pre-generated text, folders, and sample material.  WTF?

How about just starting with the basic structure of a Scrivener project and letting me populate with MY material?  I don’t need your sample material, and for a beginner with the program, we may not exactly be comfortable with editing the composition of a template.  I know I’m not.

I could take the time to figure out Scrivener, and I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who will quickly deride my post here and tell me I’m a tool bag for bad mouthing such a fine program.  I will make it clear here, right now – I’m not putting the program down.  I just don’t think it’s the program for me given the time I have (or lack thereof).

And I’m still not getting any writing done.

Of course, I’m writing this right now, so I guess there’s that. :)

So I shut the damn thing down, reopened my original document from yesterday (in Open Office Writer, a fine program with very little screen clutter to get in the way), and get back to work.

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

I know a lot of writers out there swear by Scrivener.  But then again, there are a lot of products out there that writers use daily that they feel is the best thing since the invention of paper.  There are a lot of tools out there for writers to get their ideas onto a page.  Many are just there to catch the writer and to get them to fork over decent money for something that, at the end of the day, is just an over-glorified word processor.

Seen the commercial on TV for Dragon Naturally Speaking?  Where they try to convince you that writers can benefit from the program?  The “writer” they use for the commercial is rather lackluster in writing skill.  Maybe she’s just a bit melancholy…

So far I’ve managed to write, edit, format, and submit all of my stories using Open Office and Microsoft Office.  Those are my tools.  I may occasionally feed a manuscript to an analyzer to see if I’m using certain words too often, but really, I don’t need much else.

Some writers may still find my needs too much.  Those folks write longhand, with a pen and a piece of paper.  *shudder*

Let me get back to my story.  It’s not going to write itself.  Wait, I bet there’s a writer’s tool out there for that, too…

5 responses

  1. Thank you for this! So far, I’m still getting by with Notepad (for poems) and Word (for prose). Maybe I’ll get Scrivener one day–but only on a day when I’m ready to learn a piece of software instead of get something written. ;-)

    February 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm

  2. I think Scrivener is a great product, and since I only paid $20 for it due to a deal I got after beating Nano a couple years back, I’m not so worried about the money aspect. I’ve written a ton of stuff in OOW and Word, even sold some of them, so I think at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter what program you do it in, just that you do it. :)

    February 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm

  3. ada

    I was completely confused by the tutorial too. But I do have the novel I’m revising on scrivener and found I could load it up with an index card for each scene and rearrange scenes as if I was using post it notes on a board, but easier because my post it notes would be scribbled and illegible.

    I would not however use Scrivener for a short story.

    February 3, 2013 at 5:45 pm

  4. I may have to try it when I start working on another novel. For now, short stories and the completed novel will keep to OOW and Word. :)

    February 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm

  5. I have writer friends that swear by Scrivener. I think I’m too wishy-washy to use it. Plus, I still covet my 5 subject books to write any info I need on characters/settings and whatnot. I even created a website (offline) for the world I created. Plus, I’ve heard horror stories of Scrivener gobbling up documents, never to be seen again. That scares me the most.

    February 6, 2013 at 11:17 am

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