So back in 2014 (damn, seems like a long time ago now!) when I won Nano for – what I consider as – the first ‘proper’ time, I got a discount code for a great piece of software called Scrivener. I think it was something like 50% off! Which was great for poor student me at the time.
I haven’t dabbled around with Scrivener much, but honestly I think in the three years that I’ve (not) used it, it’s actually added some pretty cool features. It’s updated regularly and patched and tweaked, and comes with a full instruction manual on how to use it.
I’m sure there are other tutorials out there – probably on Tumblr, Youtube, any other popular website you can think of, forums dedicated to writing software.
Scrivener presents you with a blank page – daunting at first, perhaps, until you know the ropes. You can do a lot more than just write fiction with this – it is designed for writers. You can write scripts, screenplays, radio plays, comic books (probably, I’ve not tried), or just use the pin board for whatever project you’re working on. It has the blank page of Microsoft Word, and also a virtual blank office wall (like a corkboard surface) for those little bits of research or ideas or tidbits which inspire you.
It’s a pretty versatile piece of software and honestly I’m a bit disappointed with myself that I’ve not tested it’s limits sooner. I intend to do a lot more planning with it on my next project – maybe even to support the work I’ll do for my (hopefully future) Masters.
It’s well worth the money, coming in at $40 (£32.05 for those of us in the UK). There’s also a free trial available from the website if you want to try before you buy.
Don’t let me sell it to you, though – and no, I’m not being paid to advertise this. Neil Cross is quoted on their website as describing Scrivener – “As a writer’s application, Scrivener is damn near perfect; it means outlines, treatments and then first drafts can be put together in the same application.” Which I think is pretty damn cool. It means you can do all of what you need to (up to a certain point) with just one piece of software.
If you need more convincing, check out the case studies page on their website. If you can’t justify the £30 odd to get this, I suggest trying the free trial or winning Nanowrimo, as for the past few years they have provided the winners with the discount codes.
I actually have one from 2016 to give away – as I got one in 2014 I have no need to use it again. This will make Scrivener available for you to purchase in full for only $20 or £15ish. That’s pretty damn cheap for powerful software.
If you’re interested in my little competition giveaway, the conditions for entry are here –
Let me know your favourite author, your favourite book by them, where you were when you read it, and why you like it so much/why it means so much to you.
I’ll choose the best out of the entries and the winner gets the code! I’ll also supply instructions on how to use Scrivener. I suggest you all try out the free trial beforehand, though, as obviously even if you use the code, you’ll still have to invest a bit of money to purchase the full version. It expires on November 1st, so… join in the competition fun!
If you’re into more free-to-use software, another good one is the free online software Yarny. It is a good idea to register to use it if you want to save your work on this. The best thing about this is that it’s available to use wherever you are, since I think it uses the Cloud to store your work.
Obviously, there’s also Googledocs if you’re out and about a lot and need somewhere to store your work and access it while you’re on the go. If that’s your cup of tea – great! I recently started delving into Googledocs last year, which makes it really easy to share documents with people when it comes to the beta-reading stage (usually after drafts 2/3), so that’s a useful feature which us writers can definitely benefit from.
If you have any writing software you love to use – good old Microsoft Word (which I shamefully admit has always been my go-to over the years. I think I’m just so damn used to it), something you paid for, or something free – let me know! I’d love to hear what you guys use to get your words on the page, even if it’s even more standard than MS Word and you prefer traditional pen and paper.