Thoughts On Scrivener 3


(Screenshot courtesy of Literature and Latte)

Yes, I’m still breathing. That’s about it for the personal update.

On a more interesting topic, Scrivener 3 for the Mac has come out. Actually, I think it was released some time ago, but I just got around to paying attention to the “new version” nudges, and took a look. I liked what I saw, and thought that playing with a new version of my favorite writing software might actually inspire me to make more time to write.

I installed it. It’s pretty cool. There are quite a few nice new features, and revamps of old features to make them more intuitive. It’s also, well…prettier.

You can read about the update (and purchase a copy), on the Literature and Latte website, if you’d like all of the details. Existing Mac license holders get a nice chunk taken off the full price (only $25 instead of the $45 new user cost), too. It’s definitely worth the investment, from what I can see so far.

One aspect of Scrivener that always baffled me a bit, and sent me back to the help files each time I used it, was the Compile feature. In Scrivener, you’re working on a draft, and can set it up to look and behave however your muse demands. When you export it, however, you are going to have to meet certain requirements. Whether it’s being sent to a traditional publisher, formatted for an e-book, self-published in paperback form, or just printed out to share with your old-timey meet-in-person critique group, there are guidelines. The Compile feature handles all of that automatically, but it can get rather complicated when tweaking it to look just right, and to include only what you want in your end product.

Scrivener 3 appears to have put “Compile” through some very nice streamlining. While going through the tutorial section, I found I was able to get from start to finish on the demos without feeling like my head was spinning.

I also quite like what they have done with the Bookmarks feature (which replaces project notes–don’t worry, the upgrade will automatically save all your old notes into a Bookmarks folder that keeps them handy and easy to manage), and how the Metadata function has been streamlined. There seems to be a nice tweak to the Collections feature, too, which makes it a more valuable tool (for my needs, anyway).

I’ve been playing with it for a few days now, having converted my “Articles” project as well as a book that I’d started and not got very far on (story of my writing life) over the summer. None of the big or more important projects had been converted to version 3 yet, because I’ve just been messing around with the new interface (which is very familiar and easy to navigate but a bit more efficient and intuitive).

Then, I went to my (Windows) laptop, with which I have always shared Scrivener files, and realized that I probably should have read a bit further into the upgrade notes before installing. I discovered that:

  1. There is no comparable version for Windows, and,
  2. Once converted to version 3, your files can’t be opened by older versions.

Um. Oops.

Thinking I might have just shot myself in the foot, and would be locked out of my out-of-office updates and middle-of-the-night-inspiration writing blitzes, I refused to panic (much) and hit Google. It only took a few minutes to discover that version 3 for Windows is available from the Literature and Latte Forums–as a beta project.


There are a few understandable caveats. The software is not finished (that’s what “beta” means in software development, naturally); some advanced features are missing, and they are still working out bugs. As with any beta, there may be a few stability risks. Each beta version is only active for a month, so you have to keep up with the forum and continue to install the newest beta to keep using the program. However, it’s all free while testing. It seems well worth it for people, like me, who do their main writing on a Mac desktop but still want to be able to access their files when away from their primary computer.

All of the files I’d converted to version 3 on the Mac, so far, have opened seamlessly in the Windows beta. I save my work to OneDrive(*), so it’s available to both computers. The beta, so far, appears to be very stable. Though there’s still work to be done, the basics (and quite a bit more) seem to be working perfectly, and anything of a more complicated nature, like compiling finished work, will be done on the Mac, anyway. Once the beta program is done, since I already also own a Windows license, I’ll be able to purchase the major upgrade for a friendly discount.

Are you a Scrivener lover like me? Have you been hesitating to upgrade to version 3? Have you been waiting to upgrade your Mac because you need the Windows version, too?  Give it a try, I think you’ll like it.

So, we’re all set to go, Scrivener 3 is working on both of my computers but I still have to do the actual writing if I ever want to finish this book, don’t I? Time to stop playing and get to work!

(* If you use OneDrive or any other Cloud service to share your work between computers, or with team members, just be sure to wait till Computer A is completely finished syncing all your files before trying to open them on Computer B. And vice versa. Don’t ask me how I know this. The story isn’t pretty.)





Scrivener Writing SoftwareA number of my writer friends have, over the past few years, mentioned “Scrivener” to me, but I must confess: I was a bit slow on the uptake.

“Why do I need another word processor?” I asked myself, “I have Word. Everybody uses Word.”

Then, in the middle of a writing project, I found myself at the edge of a giant plot hole. It was vast and deep. There was no bottom in sight.

“With Scrivener,” one friend said, “I just write everything out in scenes. Then I can move them around, adjust them, delete them, rearrange them….  It really helps get the bones of a story in place.”

Suddenly, “another word processor” didn’t sound like such a bad idea.

To be honest, Scrivener is more than just a word processor. It takes you back to the days when you could write scenes on pages, outline on index cards, shuffle ideas around, and re-structure a story to your heart’s content before you actually committed to it.  It exports in many formats (including eBook formats like Kindle). It lets you keep all your research notes right in your project file. It gives you a place to attach notes and comments right to your scenes. It takes snapshots of a version of a scene, or multiple scenes, before you rewrite (just in case you decide you hate your changes). It has templates for character and scene sketches. It allows you to view your scenes in index card or outline form.

Scrivener is the answer to a writer’s prayers.

Yes, I installed it. Within two days, I paid for a registration.

Needless to say, that plot hole is patched. The first draft of that book is now done, and it’s in the hands of some first-reader friends while I mess around with researching and outlining the next project.

Yes, in Scrivener.

If you’re a writer, and would love to have a way to structure your work however the muse leads you, check it out.

The creators of Scrivener live at the Literature and Latte website. There, you can find versions for both Mac and PC, download a trial, read testimonials and watch many hours of informative tutorials.