Book Writing AdviceBook, Writing, Advice
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

The Reviews Are In: ServiceScape Test Drives Scrivener Book-Writing Software


Does this scenario sound familiar? You have a brilliant idea for a book. It sits in your mind, nagging you to start but you just aren't sure where to even begin. If you found yourself nodding your head to this then you've fallen victim to an all-too-familiar situation that writers often go through. Blame writer's block. Blame your office job. Heck, blame the endless pile of laundry!

Okay, once you're done pointing fingers, you may want to consider that you need a little assistance in the book writing department (just breathe; it's going to be okay). This is where Scrivener, the web-based book-writing software, can virtually guide you through the process to make starting (and finishing) your book a whole lot simpler.

The basics

Scrivener is available for both Mac and PC (because Scrivener knows that writers come in many different shapes and sizes, and that some may be fiercely loyal to their Apple laptop while others may swear allegiance to their PC. No need to fight here; Scrivener doesn't discriminate.). For writers on the go, Scrivener is also available for your smartphone (because you never know at what odd times inspiration may strike. It's good to be prepared).

You may be wondering why a writer would need book-writing software? Truthfully, they might not need it at all; however, for as many writers out there with great ideas there are also just as many writers who have trouble organizing these ideas on paper. At ServiceScape, we've been working with incredible writers for over 15 years. We know what pleases our clients and what content is successful and if there is a system or process that helps make writers even more efficient at what they do, then we want to find it.

I think we can agree that technology has made it significantly easier for writers over the centuries. Think about it: before word processing software came along, we poured over the pages to check for spelling errors, grammar and punctuation. Now, thanks to modern word-processing systems, we can quickly delete typos with the click of a button rather than using whiteout or, worse yet, having to retype the entire page because of one spelling error.

The unique benefits of Scrivener's software

So, why Scrivener? After all, you have Word or Pages (or even your trusty pen and paper) to help you jot down your thoughts and ideas, right? Not so fast. As your thoughts turn to sentences, sentences to paragraphs and then multiple chapters manifest, there will come a point in which you may think to yourself: Should this chapter be moved to the beginning of the book? Maybe this paragraph would be better suited further along in the story. Or, I think I need to write a new chapter and place it between two of my current chapters to introduce this character sooner.

When these thoughts invade your head, good book-writing software helps you take control to restructure your story without the hassle of having to rewrite it, tear out journal pages or reorganize an overflowing ring binder (because, no one has time for that!). Typical word processing software like Word may give you the blank page you need to help you start writing, but that's about all it has to offer. Conversely, Scrivener doesn't just give you the pages needed to create your story, it also aims to give you full control over how it's organized by providing simple and effective tools in which to construct and revamp your writing in a matter of minutes.

For example, maybe you have Pinterest boards chock full of character and scene-setting images. Maybe you use index cards to plot out your ideas and then you house said index cards on a giant corkboard. Now imagine trying to drag all of these items with you to the nearest coffeehouse so you can get to work. Not so easy, is it (but it does create a rather amusing visual)?

With Scrivener, the only thing you'll need is your trusty laptop, as this book-writing program provides you with the features you need to save all of your research, from images to writings to audio files, in one easily accessible location. Scrivener even lets you organize these items in a way that makes sense to you. If you're a visual person, Scrivener's virtual corkboard feature may just become your new best friend.

Chapters in the order they are inspired

Not sure how to start your book but already know what's going to happen in the middle (wow, way to cut to the chase, my friend!)? No problem! Scrivener makes it easy to write whatever chapters you want in whatever order inspires you. Then, as other parts of the book take shape you can move your finished chapters, or even sections of the chapter, around with a simple drag-and-click function. Plus, you can see your whole manuscript, as well as all its smaller components, right in your virtual binder, making it easy to go back and forth between and within chapters.

Did you just come up with a brilliant section or idea for your book but now you're not sure where it goes in the grand scheme of your novel? No sweat. Just write it down on the software's Scratch Pad feature and file it away until that a-ha moment finally materializes. You won't even have to leave the page you're currently working on to jot down the idea and save it.

Once you have begun writing in Scrivener you'll find that this software provides a user-friendly format to cater to any form of writing, from short story collections to blogs to scripts. In fact, Scrivener's format is even compatible with Final Draft for all of your Hollywood scriptwriters-to-be out there (just don't forget to thank Scrivener after you thank the Academy!).

Collecting research

Behind every good writer is good research, and if you love a good mind map (because, who doesn't?) you'll be happy to hear that you can easily import your creative mind map as a PDF and then place it directly into your research section. Now you can refer to this whenever you want to help direct your writing from start to finish. Published authors swear by the power of a mind map and clearly Scrivener is a proponent of collecting and storing all content and research that you need to help you power through your writing.

Alas, nothing is perfect (we know this isn't a shocking revelation) and even the best software comes with its drawbacks; however, we think it's good to know what you're getting into before you take the plunge into the world of book-writing software. Perhaps one of the biggest cons of using Scrivener, as you might imagine, is that there is a learning curve (again, probably not a shocking revelation).

The laundry list of features and options Scrivener offers means that it will take some time to learn how to navigate these uncharted waters; however, some of the best things in life come with a learning curve, so you may just discover that putting in the time and energy now could help you reap some long-term benefits in the near future. Nonetheless, if you're lacking in the patience department then this software may not be ideal for you.

Help is available

It's important to note that while you are navigating these waters Scrivener doesn't just leave you stranded without a paddle. In this case it isn't really a paddle, but it is a boatload of tutorials and interactive guides to prevent you from sinking into the virtual abyss. Keep in mind, Scrivener's manual is a whopping 337 pages, which gives you a clue just how much this app can do, as well as how much work you could have ahead of you before you feel like you are fully utilizing all the capabilities of this book-writing software.

While Scrivener may not be able to give you the motivation you need to start writing, knowing that you have a system that can make it easy to write, rewrite, organize and finalize your story all in one program could just be motivation enough. If you are a writer who is serious about beginning your next big script, novel or collection of short stories then this might just be the stepping-stone you need to take that leap. Let Scrivener do the work so that you can spend your time doing what's most important: brainstorming (and writing!) your next bestseller.

30-day free trial

Still not sure you're ready to commit? Then take Scrivener for a test drive with their 30-day free trial. What makes this trial different is that it's a non-consecutive 30 days. So, should you need to take some time away from your book for work, life or even a vacation, Scrivener won't punish you for it by taking away your free, unused days (because even the developers of Scrivener understand that writers need a vacation every once in a while to get the ole creative juices flowing).

Sure, novelist Barbara Kingsolver may have said, I have to write hundreds of pages before I get to page one, but that journey to page one could begin now, and Scrivener might just be the perfect software to help you do it.

Get in-depth guidance delivered right to your inbox.