Kick(start)ing myself into Scrivener

I mentioned last month that I was launching a Kickstarter project for Chains and Memory, the sequel to my 2012 novel Lies and Prophecy.

We’re on the home leg now, with just four days to go; the campaign ends on Tuesday the 17th. I’m delighted to say it’s been a smashing success: initial goal in less than 48 hours, one stretch goal achieved and another one within reach. Of course, the real work has only just begun. With the initial funding secured, I’ve started drafting the novel, and that’s going to be my primary task for the next few months. But the success of the Kickstarter campaign means that, in a way, the book is already real: it has moved from being a thing I would like to do someday to a thing I am actually doing.

As a result, I’m also running a second experiment: for the first time in my life, I’m attempting to write a novel using Scrivener.

You don’t understand how huge of a thing this is for me. I started using Wordperfect in 1989, before Windows had been invented. I have never written a piece of fiction in any format other than WP or a pen on paper — and very little of the latter, at that. Trying to work in a different program just feels wrong.

But Scrivener is already proving useful. One of the scenes I’ve drafted keeps wandering around the early chapters, looking for a home: it’s a good scene, and I like it a lot, but no matter where I put it, the thing keeps disrupting the flow of the stuff around it. Will it eventually find a spot to settle down, or will it wind up as a sort of “DVD extra” on my website? No idea — but I do know that it’s nice to be able to just grab that scene in the binder and drag it wherever I like, rather than having to cut and scroll and paste. Then there’s the index cards, with their labels (I’m using them for point of view, and god, do I wish I’d had that function back when I was wrestling With Fate Conspire) and their keywords, the latter helping me track which plot strands I’ve introduced or developed thus far.

There are things I don’t like about Scrivener. If there’s a way to make it give me the word count for just the text I’ve selected, I haven’t yet found it (I’m using the Windows version). And its formatting capabilities are kind of abysmal. But I can see why people like it, and I may warm to it more in time . . . once I get used to the fact that it isn’t Wordperfect.

I figure, hey. I’m doing all kinds of new things here: first Kickstarter-funded novel, first sequel written fifteen years after the original book; why not first time with a new program?

Wish me luck . . .



About Marie Brennan

Marie Brennan is a former anthropologist and folklorist who shamelessly pillages her academic fields for inspiration. She recently misapplied her professors' hard work to the short novel Driftwood and Turning Darkness Into Light, a sequel to the Hugo Award-nominated Victorian adventure series The Memoirs of Lady Trent. She is the author of several other series, over sixty short stories, and the New Worlds series of worldbuilding guides; as half of M.A. Carrick, she has written The Mask of Mirrors, first in the Rook and Rose trilogy. For more information, visit, Twitter @swan_tower, or her Patreon.


Kick(start)ing myself into Scrivener — 8 Comments

  1. “I’d rather stab forks through my wrists than…” Is the funniest thing I’ve read in days:-)
    Thank you.
    And good luck with the book and experiment!

  2. Marie:

    In Scrivener, select the text block of text you want the word count for and then right click. At the very bottom of the menu that pops up there is a word count for the selected text. It’s light gray so it’s not as obvious as the rest of the items on the menu, but that’s where it is.

  3. I’m writing my first novel in Scrivener right now, and I keep finding little things that I miss from using Word.

    The oddest part for me is that I often don’t feel like I’m working with a ‘whole’ document. Despite the fact that I know my whole doc is in there.

    • Yeah, it’s a bit odd having it divided up. I know I could go into the Draft level and see the whole thing, but it just isn’t the same.

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