I downloaded Scrivener and took advantage of the free trial, which allowed me to use the software for a month without paying a penny. If I wanted to keep using it, I’d have to pay 45 dollars. (Although Scrivener is based in Truro, it’s priced in dollars. I’d actually have to pay just over 30 quid.)
After about a week, I was enjoying using Scrivener - it looked nice and felt like a more pleasant working environment than Word - but but I couldn’t quite see the point. Then I came across this article written by Antony Johnston on his own use of Scrivener in which he says:
I enthuse about Scrivener to all of my friends. Some of them even listen to me, and download it. This is often swiftly followed by an email complaining that it's all very confusing and they'll stick to Microsoft Word, thanks.Yes. I could understand that. Why did I need all these fiddly menus? Do I really have to read the manual? Isn’t Word easier and more straightforward?
Johnston provides a lengthy, detailed and mostly bewildering tutorial on using Scrivener, which I read several times. It’s a fascinating description of the way that a particular writer uses and adapts the tools of his trade. It made me see how Scrivener can be used; not as a revolutionary new advance which will change the way that you write, but as a neat, clever and well-designed tool that will allow you to work in the way that you already work, but rather more efficiently.
Some writers simply sit down at a piece of paper, write the first sentence of their novel and continue until they reach the end. They won’t have much use for Scrivener. But if your working habits are more chaotic, filled with scribbled notes, discarded ideas, half-forgotten thoughts, unused bits of research and all kinds of bits and pieces which you’ll consider, ponder, reject and forget while writing your actual book, Scrivener offers a very useful place to hold and order them all.
My favourite feature is one that probably exists in all kinds of other word processors too (although, if it’s in Word, I’ve never managed to find it). Press a couple of keys and everything disappears apart from the page that you’re writing.
I’ve spent a month playing with Scrivener, trying out different settings, slowly progressing with some notes and jottings towards a draft of the book that I was writing, and finally decided to buy it. I’m still not convinced that I’ll end up using it all the time, but I was sufficiently impressed to want to carry on exploring and experimenting.