Theory on Thursday with Joan Kilby

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This week I have Superromance and Carina Press author Joan Kilby talking about something that has fascinated me for a while now. SCRIVENER!! I have heard so many people say they use this program to write their books and I always wanted to know HOW that worked. I admit to thinking it sounded like just another procrastination tool to prolong actually writing the book, but I also admit to not looking into it properly at all.

So I was thrilled when Joan said she used SCRIVENER and even more thrilled when she agreed to blog about it.
Here’s Joan herself…

Scrivener has so many great features there isn’t enough space to list them all so I’ll mention a few of my favorites.

Corkboard: Plotting is a breeze using the index cards on the corkboard to keep track of scenes. The index cards are linked to the text of the scene as you write.

You can:

– create as many cards/scenes as you like;

– tag them with colors specific to your characters’ povs;

– write a brief synopsis of the scene on the card;

– add meta-data notes, for example, the date created, first draft or revised.

– hold the cursor over a card and a popup shows you the first line of that scene.

– flip the card over and insert a photo of the pov character (if you have one).

– see at a glance the balance between different characters’ povs.

– drag the index card to a different location, and the associated scene moves within your manuscript, allowing you to rearrange scenes quickly and easily.

Here’s a link to the corkboard of scenes for my wip.

The book isn’t complete and I haven’t separated the scenes into chapters but you get the idea. You can view the manuscript in individual scenes or by clicking on the ‘Chapter’ folder at the top, scroll through the entire manuscript.

Binder: Along the left-hand side is the Binder. This contains all your scenes plus folders for each character, research where you can store hyperlinks, photos, media, and copied text plus any other folder you care to create.

Along the top are a number of icons for managing your manuscript. One of my favorites is ‘Compose.’ Click on this and everything fades to black except the text. What I really love is that by going into Preferences on my Mac I can set the background color. I then set the font color in Scrivener and I can write in white text on a teal background. I find this color combination the most restful on my eyes. I can’t get it in Word anymore, at least not in Word for Mac.

Name generator: Ever have a problem thinking up names for your characters? The Scrivener name generator, located in Edit>Writing Tools, instantly generates up to 500 first and last names in different nationalities. Love it!

Drawbacks: The biggest one for me is that I can’t use the keyboard to perform many of the editing commands the way I was used to doing in Word.

Also, you have to convert to Word once you’re ready to submit it to an editor or agent. However, that’s probably a good thing since the text is easier to edit in Word.

However, I got into a sticky situation. I compiled my proposal chapters, converted to Word, edited the chapters and then submitted them to my editor. Since then I’ve also edited the Scrivener text. Now I have two different versions of the same three chapters. I’ll have to be very careful when creating the final version that I have the most up-to-date elements of both Scrivener and Word. Of course, if you’re writing the whole manuscript before editing and submitting, you won’t have this problem.

Conclusion: I highly recommend Scrivener. The interactive tutorial that comes with it is easy to understand. You don’t need to know much to dive in and you quickly learn more simply by doing. The program was created for Mac so anyone familiar with Macs will have no problem. I understand there’s now a Scrivener for Windows.

I’m still learning about Scrivener but if anyone has questions I’d be happy to try to answer them.

Comment to go in the draw for winner’s choice of one book from my recent trilogy. For titles, excerpts and reviews, go to http://www.joankilby.com

Thanks, Rachael, for the opportunity to blog on Scrivener!

Joan Kilby

GENTLEMEN PREFER NERDS March 2012 Carina Press

PROTECTING HER SON April 2012 Harlequin Superromance


Thanks so much for sharing all that fabulous information with us Joan. I didn’t know you could actually write the WHOLE MS in Scrivener. Am going to have to investigate Scrivener for Windows.
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27 thoughts on “Theory on Thursday with Joan Kilby

  1. I couldn't write without Scrivener. And I say that as someone who knows Word inside out and backwards. Scrivener is just vastly, vastly superior for drafting and editing a novel. I highly recommend it. (And it is in no way a procrastination tool for me.)

  2. I've heard lots of people talk about this, but never really investigated it. I don't know if it will work for me — a complete pantser, if ever there was one — but I can definitely see how it would be helpful in keeping track of the overall arc of the story. Thanks so much for taking the time to explain it, Joan, and the screen-shot was really interesting!

  3. Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by. Emmie, I think even pantsers might find a use for Scrivener, if just for jotting down notes on the corkboard and keeping track of character and research notes.

  4. Interesting article, Joan. I've dabbled with a few similar products but somehow I always end up going back to Word for plotting. I end up with a jumble of notes, but somehow it makes sense to me.

  5. Joan, I use the standard Mac keyboard shortcuts — command + X to cut, command + C to copy, command + V to paste. Also, command+B for bold, command+I for italic, etc. Do those not work for you?

  6. Ruthie, no they don't. But then, I'm not using a Mac keyboard. Maybe I just need to experiment more.

    Colleen, when working in Word, I end up with a folder and half a dozen documents related to the wip. With Scrivener it's all there in the one place.

  7. Thanks again for visiting Joan. I'm LOVING this discussion. And I'm pleased to report I've just downloaded the trial of Scrivener, so am about to have a play. Will be starting a new MS soon, so the timing is fab 🙂

  8. Ok, I'd never even considered Scrivener and now I'm wondering how I ever lived with out. I cart around a notebook with bits and pieces, sticky tabs, photos and can invariably never put my hand on what I want when I need it most!! Thanks Joan and Rachael, another fabulous craft post 🙂

  9. Joan – I've been experimenting today with Scrivener. It's a lot of fun 🙂 Just wondering what happens when you export the whole manuscript? I understand it is made into a pdf. Does that mean you can't edit in another program after? THanks again for coming on.

  10. Hi Joan! Great post – especially loved that snapshot of your board.

    I've tried a lot of programs but none as visually pleasing as Scrivener. However I always end up using it once then hardly ever again. Dunno, must be me but I much prefer an actual corkboard, paper and pins 🙂 the tangible experience of pinning, shifting around and paper between my fingers, methinks LOL

  11. Hi Joan and Rachael
    I've been flirting with the idea of Scrivener for quite a while, even downloaded a trial. Like Rachael, I could see endless opportunities for procrastinating. I'm now edging closer to actually getting it, maybe in the holidays when I can spend time playing with and learning it. Uh oh, does that sound like procrastinating?
    Thanks for a very interesting post!

  12. Rachel, when you compile and export, yes it goes to a PDF. I then saved it as a Word doc to do a last edit before sending to my editor. It's a bit fiddly, but not too hard. And I'm more comfortable editing in Word.

    Paula, when I've tried Scrivener previously I used it for a bit then went back to Word. That was on the 30 day trial and I think I was conscious of not using up my 30 days, lol. Once I bought the program I felt less constrained. I decided I would write a whole book on it and really give it a chance. So far I'm finding the process works really well.

    Kandy, I can find so many ways to procrastinate without Scrivener. Actually when I do finally get on there, I'm there to write.

  13. Helene, I, too, have a notebook plus scraps of paper and bits and pieces. I write things down and never look at them again, or can't find them. With Scrivener I can just click over to a file or folder.

    When in Compose mode (the rest of the screen blacked out) you can still, if you want, keep your documents notes onscreen next to the text. I find this really handy for when I get offtrack or forget where I wanted to go with a scene.

  14. We have a winner of my book giveaway! I used a random number generator to pick, (drumroll) – Michelle! If you'd like to send me your snail mail addy at joan@joankilby.com and let me know which book of the trilogy you'd like, I'll post it out to you. Congratulations.

    Thanks again, Rachel, for being a wonderful blog hostess and to everyone for your comments. Hope you have fun with Scrivener.

  15. I HAVE FINALLY FOUND SOMEONE. I am the newly appointed “publicity agent” of my friend's writing blog, and have been searching for other writer/readers to share the amazingness of her writing with. Yes I used the word amazingness. It's that good. She intends to publish a book, but for now is righting musings. please PLEASE take a look! You know you want to 😉
    http://writing-because-i-can.blogspot.com

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