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Thread: Scrivener for a linear pantser?

  1. #1
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Scrivener for a linear pantser?

    I know there have been a lot of threads about Scrivener and I've read through many of them, but I'm looking for some specific information related to my writing style.

    I've always been a pantser. No outline at all. I don't even make notes. I just start at Chapter One with a general idea of where I'm going and write all the way through, editing as I go. My problem is that I'm writing several series and trying to keep things consistent from Book 1 to Book Whatever is getting a bit overwhelming. I'm getting tired of sifting back through entire Word documents just to find out what color Character X's eyes were. I started keeping a separate Word document with character features, location details, etc. for each series, but even that is getting a bit unmanagable now that I'm beginning work on my third series.

    So, would Scrivener potentially work for me to keep myself from going crazy trying to keep track of all the details? And would I have to significantly alter my linear pantser approach to successfully write in Scrivener?



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    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Really? You're worried that little digital cards are going to influence you to outline?

    It's up to you to use the features. The program doesn't make you do anything, you're free to do what you wish.

    One of my books, LifeFire, I discovery wrote. I would end a chapter, make a new card and start there. And Advent, I outlined massively. Both, I used Scrivener for.

    You can start one file in Scrivener and keep going. The only problem, is when you compile it, the file won't have chapters options. Character profiles and such are up to you.

    Try the trial to see how you like it. It's free.
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  3. #3
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WillSauger View Post
    Really? You're worried that little digital cards are going to influence you to outline?

    It's up to you to use the features. The program doesn't make you do anything, you're free to do what you wish.

    One of my books, LifeFire, I discovery wrote. I would end a chapter, make a new card and start there. And Advent, I outlined massively. Both, I used Scrivener for.

    You can start one file in Scrivener and keep going. The only problem, is when you compile it, the file won't have chapters options. Character profiles and such are up to you.

    Try the trial to see how you like it. It's free.
    I'm not worried about it forcing me to outline. College professors tried that and failed - miserably.

    I'm just curious as to which features would be the most beneficial to me and how useful they would be. And I probably will try the free trail to get a feel for it - I just wanted some input before I invest the time to learn the program.



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    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Well... it keeps everything a single file. And it's not hard to learn, like Photoshop and stuff. Hell, Word is harder.
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  5. #5
    here and there again fadeaccompli's Avatar
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    You could write your entire novel in a single tab of a single Scrivener file as if it were a Word document, if you really wanted to. So, no. Scrivener is not going to leap at you with a SUDDEN OUTLINING ATTACK and make you write differently if you'd rather not.

    I tend to outline very, very loosely, if at all; when using Scrivener, I use it track recurring details that I'd otherwise have to search through previous chapters for. So I have folders and cards for names and descriptions of characters, maybe a timeline somewhere to remember how long ago bits of history happened, cards to remind me what political structure different city-states use, that kind of thing.

    Sounds like it'll work fine for what you want. I don't see how it could make you use any features or writing style you don't want to, though it could make some other organizational approaches available to you if you do want to try them.

  6. #6
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fadeaccompli View Post
    I tend to outline very, very loosely, if at all; when using Scrivener, I use it track recurring details that I'd otherwise have to search through previous chapters for. So I have folders and cards for names and descriptions of characters, maybe a timeline somewhere to remember how long ago bits of history happened, cards to remind me what political structure different city-states use, that kind of thing.
    Thanks. This is mainly what I'm looking for.



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    practical experience, FTW Taylor V's Avatar
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    Scrivener has "recommendations" for how you use it, but at its core it's just a word processor and the extra features are yours to pick and choose. It has some good outline features, but you don't need to use them at all if you don't want to.

    It will probably help you organize, if that's what you want to do. You can add notes and references to the text (for your own use, they don't show up when you export), add tags and keyword to files, etc. It also comes with built in character profile templates which you can keep in the sidebar of your projects for easy access.

    As far as the time it takes to learn the program, you'll be able to at least write in it no problem as soon as you load it up. It comes with tutorials to show you how to use its other features, and they don't take long. I'm also pretty sure you can just skip over the tutorials for the features you're not interested in.
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    ...it's anything but. AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    I'm a fairly linear pantser. I just started using Scrivener for the current WIP.

    One of the things I liked is that I could keep all my research (that I tend to do while writing) and little lists and notes in one place.

    I tend to write in scenes, which I'm doing as individual... um text things.. in Scrivener. Even though I do *mostly* write linearly, sometimes I write a scene that I realize has to go elsewhere in the novel. And *quite* often, I decide to change where a chapter starts., so the ability to move things around is useful. After I write a scene, I summarize it on the note card. Also useful for when I think, "Oh, I need to go back and add this plot point I just decided to include in the scene where the do ___." I can find that scene much faster now.

    I've been keeping a file with character names and descriptions. It's easier, since I can flip right to it to add as I go.

    I also adore the session word goal tracker.

    So that's how I'm using it at the moment, as someone who used to just open a document and start typing.
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    My Protagonists Hate Me Kyla Laufreyson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgirl View Post
    So, would Scrivener potentially work for me to keep myself from going crazy trying to keep track of all the details?
    Simply? Yes.
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  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I use Scrivener and I love it. I am also a panster. When I originally started my WIP I tried the whole outline thing with it, starting each chapter on a separate "tab", but that just did not work for me. So, I opened one tab, like it's chapter one, and just started writing. My whole 25,000 plus words is in "chapter one". I will have to go back and cut/paste into chapters and scenes when I'm done. What I love is the research tabs. I keep "cards" on my characters, world, definitions, ideas, etc.. So when I need information on X eye color, or whatever, I just click on my research tab and it's right there. To me, the greatest thing about it is that my "index cards" are right there on the program and the program is on my laptop. Therefore, I can write anywhere I happen to be and don't have to pack around a bunch of notes and index cards.

  11. #11
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amergina View Post
    I'm a fairly linear pantser. I just started using Scrivener for the current WIP.

    One of the things I liked is that I could keep all my research (that I tend to do while writing) and little lists and notes in one place.

    I tend to write in scenes, which I'm doing as individual... um text things.. in Scrivener. Even though I do *mostly* write linearly, sometimes I write a scene that I realize has to go elsewhere in the novel. And *quite* often, I decide to change where a chapter starts., so the ability to move things around is useful. After I write a scene, I summarize it on the note card. Also useful for when I think, "Oh, I need to go back and add this plot point I just decided to include in the scene where the do ___." I can find that scene much faster now.

    I've been keeping a file with character names and descriptions. It's easier, since I can flip right to it to add as I go.

    I also adore the session word goal tracker.

    So that's how I'm using it at the moment, as someone who used to just open a document and start typing.
    This sounds like exactly the input I needed! And word goal tracker? I think I could fall in love with that!

    I'm halfway through a current WIP. Is it possible to paste it from Word into Scrivener, or would it be better to start Scrivener with a brand new project?



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    My Protagonists Hate Me Kyla Laufreyson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgirl View Post
    Is it possible to paste it from Word into Scrivener, or would it be better to start Scrivener with a brand new project?
    You can copy-and-paste. I had to go through and do that with a series of companion novels I'm working on, to have everything from the same universe in one place.
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  13. #13
    Reinventing Myself Scribhneoir's Avatar
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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgirl View Post
    Is it possible to paste it from Word into Scrivener, or would it be better to start Scrivener with a brand new project?
    You can import your Word doc into Scrivener with a couple of clicks of the mouse. Once it's in Scrivener you can easily chop it up if you want, or leave it as one file.

  14. #14
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arianna Sterling View Post
    You can copy-and-paste. I had to go through and do that with a series of companion novels I'm working on, to have everything from the same universe in one place.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scribhneoir View Post
    You can import your Word doc into Scrivener with a couple of clicks of the mouse. Once it's in Scrivener you can easily chop it up if you want, or leave it as one file.
    Excellent! I'm going to download the free trial and give it a spin around the block. Thanks for the input, everyone!



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    My Protagonists Hate Me Kyla Laufreyson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scribhneoir View Post
    You can import your Word doc into Scrivener with a couple of clicks of the mouse. Once it's in Scrivener you can easily chop it up if you want, or leave it as one file.
    Scrivener hates me. When I imported things it kept doing strange things to my formatting so I gave in and just copied everything.
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  16. #16
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    It might, or might not. I don't outline, and tried Scribner. I found it did nothing I can't do with MS office, so I abanodoned it fast, but it can't hurt to try it.

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    practical experience, FTW SianaBlackwood's Avatar
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    I can't use Scrivener for writing at all. Breaking my story into individual scenes at the creation stage robs me of the feeling of momentum, because every new scene starts again at 0. I use FocusWriter for actual novel-writing (and it has session timers too, BTW).

    As a place to store notes, planning and completed drafts? Brilliant. I'd be using it for that right now if it hadn't turned out that "works great in Linux" was an exaggeration.
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    Soldier, Storyteller Linda Adams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgirl View Post

    So, would Scrivener potentially work for me to keep myself from going crazy trying to keep track of all the details? And would I have to significantly alter my linear pantser approach to successfully write in Scrivener?
    I'm probably about as extreme as a pantser can get. Scrivener was a godsend because it allowed me to work in whatever way I needed to work, which is all over the place. I have each scene in a separate file, and I rearrange as needed and ignore the outline cards. That's one of the things I liked particularly about Scrivener -- the tools are there if you want to use them, but they're not a requirement to be able to use the program.
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    The best way to find out what Scrivener can do for you is probably to go through the tutorial. It's very extensive, but it's amazingly well written and clear, with good examples all along the way.

    One of the best reasons that going through the tutorial is so useful is that it will bring up features you might never have thought of using on your own. Some you may like, some not, but at least you'll know they're there if you feel like experimenting or trying something new.

    And don't worry about people saying they can't do things the Scrivener way, because there is no real Scrivener way. It's open ended, and you aren't forced to use any of the tools. Don't like index cards? Don't use 'em. Don't like color coding? Skip it. Don't like this or that formatting choice? Don't choose it, then. You can write your whole novel or research paper or short story or whatever broken down scene by scene and point by point, or dump it all straight into Scrivener without dividing it at all. And if you want something like plot points, or beats, or characters broken down by physical traits or by back story, or lists of each physical location in your story, well then, go ahead and put them in. You can put whatever you want in Scrivener -- even pictures and video clips -- and it will stay there for you, all nice and organized. Or you can put next to nothing.

    Really it's up to you. There's no style that Scrivener isn't good for because it's up to you to make it do whatever you want. And there are also user-created templates that other writers have shared, so you can get ideas by exploring them or profit from the work other people have already done to adapt the program to work just right for them.

    You get a month's free trial, and a huge tutorial to go through, so you'll find out a lot of what you need to know before paying any money. It's worth a try. I even put my poetry in it.

  20. #20
    I heart sexy elves and wizards. fredXgeorge's Avatar
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    I'm linear pantser for the most part and I'm in love with Scrivener. Like others have said, you can use as many or as little features as you like. I love being able to have all my inspiration pictures and any character notes in one place, and being able to split the MS into chapters and those into scenes. I also love the session word counter which I've set to reset at midnight each night. Honestly, that is pretty much all I use, but Scrivener is so non-evasive that it doesn't even matter that I don't use anything else.
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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I am a linear pantser, tried Scrivener and saw no advantage over Word. So I went back to Word.

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    One thing I would definitely suggest is after a day of messing around with it and starting to feel lost, get onto youtube and look up some videos. It's very complex and has a high learning curve, but it's so worth it.

    And yes, my default template has a card for the main characters and a card for a summary (ie, a one short paragraph summary) of what I'm planning. I'm still basically a newbie at actual writing so I also have a card with a series of notes I've taken on what I tend to be weakest on and reminders to do X and Y and to not do Z. Having notes is one of the most useful things. In my latest, I also have pictures I grabbed from the net of locations and characters--these won't be in the final product at all. They're just there to let me get into tiny details when I want to based on a visual rather than textual description.

    Scrivener hates me. When I imported things it kept doing strange things to my formatting so I gave in and just copied everything.
    The big thing with formatting is it completely separates the formatting used in your writing window from the final product after you "compile" the scenes. It takes some getting used to. For a while, I was just formatting everything in the writing window and telling it not to reformat, but after I started to grok the compile thing, I've started to use it.

    Another hint on cutting/pasting is to go to edit and "paste and match style" which will then paste your text in whatever the default margins and font you've set as the default.

  23. #23
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    I am a meticulous planner. I gave up on Scrivener because I already had a method of planning and outlining in MSWord that Scrivener mimicked, so I decided to go back to what I was comfortable with.

    I think Scrivener would be of more use to pantsers than planners. You can write in scenes, or random non-sequential chunks, then put each scene on an index card with summary notes, and keep track of your themes, characters, locations and timelines on separate linked documents.

    you can do this in MSWord, but the index card sytem in Scrivener allows you to play 'find the lady', whizzing the scenes around each other until some sort of structure reveals itself.
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  24. #24
    In debt to AW Raphee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SianaBlackwood View Post
    I can't use Scrivener for writing at all. Breaking my story into individual scenes at the creation stage robs me of the feeling of momentum, because every new scene starts again at 0. I use FocusWriter for actual novel-writing (and it has session timers too, BTW).

    As a place to store notes, planning and completed drafts? Brilliant. I'd be using it for that right now if it hadn't turned out that "works great in Linux" was an exaggeration.
    Yes. I'd agree with that statement, as that is what happened with me. I haven't abandoned Scrivener; it's great for organizing research and loose notes. But I lose the feel of a novel with the scene breakdown.
    I do understand why it would work great for certain writers, and not for me. It's the way we work.

  25. #25
    Just a regular Fairy Princess bettielee's Avatar
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    What I love is you can keep a chapter synopsis, you can have document notes and you can have project notes. And you can toggle back and forth very easily in the inspector.

    I love the inspector.

    You can also keep character notes and notes of setting places under the research, you can also put whole documents under research - either text information or pdf's or images.

    It's freaking awesome.


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