Some people have the tech gene. I don’t. I am in awe anyone who is technically inclined, especially if they happen to have a creative streak, too. My friend Gwen Hernandez is one of those rare people who is both a gifted writer AND computer guru. She just released a new book called SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES, and I’ve invited her here today to tell us about all the amazing things Scrivener can do for writers and non-writers alike.
Gwen is an expert on all things Scrivener, so ask her your questions! Don’t be shy! Anyone who leaves a comment or question will be entered to win a copy of the book.
Hi Gwen and congratulations on the new book!
Thanks! And thank you for having me on MSW today.
Oh boy, where to start? 😉 The initial appeal for me was that I could write in scenes or chapters and see the structure of my work easily. I don’t often write out of order, but in Word, if I got an idea for a future scene—or even snippet of dialogue—I didn’t really know where to put it because you have to write in one long file. In Scrivener, I can just create a scene document within my project and keep it out of the way until I know where it goes. No more lost sticky notes, scraps of paper, or odd extra documents on my hard drive!
Scrivener also saves your work within two seconds of a pause in writing so you don’t lose your work if the power goes out. It lets you track your daily and manuscript progress against word count goals. You can color code your scenes or chapters by POV, setting, day of the week, whatever. You can keep your research notes, pictures, and links to online resources all within one project so you have everything you need within easy reach.
I really could go on all day, but for more I recommend you check out the Scrivener website (http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php), maybe even download the free trial.
What is your favorite feature of Scrivener?
I can only choose one? That’s just mean. Okay, it probably sounds dumb, but I love that every time I open my project to write, Scrivener takes me right to where I left off. It not only saves your most recent location, but also the last place you were in every document.
A close second would be full screen mode (known as Composition Mode on the Mac) because it lets me write without distractions, and I love that I can customize the background color, or add an image (Mac only for now).
Do people use Scrivener for projects besides writing books?
Absolutely! Academics and students use it to organize and create class lessons, and write dissertations and papers. (I sure wish I’d had Scrivener in grad school. I’m getting my boys started on it this year.) Lawyers use Scrivener to prepare arguments, write briefs, and store research, interviews, photos, and notes. Journalists and bloggers can create projects based on topic or publisher/website to write articles, keep track of research material and source information, and store accompanying images.
I had an email from a video game company that was looking for help creating game design documents in Scrivener, and I know a woman who uses it for her recipes (there’s even a template for that). It works for any type of writing: a diary, a collection of quotes, a travel journal, or notes from workshops and classes. The program’s flexibility makes it incredibly versatile.
Personally, in addition to fiction, I prepare my online classes and write blog posts in Scrivener, and I used it to write and edit SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES.
I love the Dummies books because they teach things in layman’s terms. How did you come to write a book for the series?
I love them too, and have quite a few on my bookshelf, so it’s pretty amazing to be an author for the famous series. The really short version of how I got my book deal is that the publisher (Wiley) went looking for a Scrivener expert on Twitter. They got several names back, including mine, and asked us all to submit a proposal. Mine won. 🙂
I’m pretty sure my experience teaching and blogging about Scrivener gave me an edge, both in creating a thorough outline for the proposal, and in having an established platform.
Having spent several years trying to get my romantic suspense work published, it was pretty unbelievable having a publisher come to me for a change. In fact, I went and checked out the acquiring editor who emailed me before responding, just to make sure he was legit.
Are you working on any fiction projects right now?
Yes. I’m polishing my 2011 Golden Heart finalist, BLIND FURY, and working on a new romantic suspense in a different series. Writing SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES forced me to put my fiction on the back burner for the first half of the year, so it’s been nice to get back into it.
Your road to publication has taken some unexpected twists! Any advice to aspiring authors?
Follow your passion. My love for Scrivener led me back into teaching, and ultimately to writing this book. It’s not the way I expected to get published, but I’m not complaining!
Thanks for stopping by to talk! Anyone who leaves a comment or question will be entered to win a signed copy of Gwen’s new book.
Gwen Hernandez is the author of SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES (Aug 2012, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.), and the teacher of popular online Scrivener classes for Mac and Windows. Before she started using Scrivener to tap her right brain for tales of romance and suspense, she was a computer programmer, business school instructor, and manufacturing engineer. She lives in Northern Virginia with her own Air Force hero, two teenage boys, and a lazy golden retriever. Learn more about her book or classes and get free Scrivener tips at www.gwenhernandez.com.