Writing Nonfiction with Scrivener

I recently bought Literature and Latte’s Scrivener software, a tool specially designed for writers. Scrivener is a complex program, and I can’t go into all the intricacies in one post. Let’s just say I bought the “For Dummies” book to help me with it. However, I wanted to highlight a couple of key features that I think make nonfiction writing easier.

Breaking articles into chunks. First, I normally sell an article as a proposal with a lead paragraph and an outline. When I receive the assignment, I also get a target word count. Scrivener allows me to break my articles up into chunks driven by my outline. I can set target word counts for each section. I may work on the various chunks individually before switching to the “Scrivening” mode. The Scrivening mode allows me to see all the pieces and how they fit together. Once I have most of the article put together, I use this mode to work on transitions from one paragraph to the next.

Footnoting. I rarely am required to turn in a footnoted article. Normally a list of sources is sufficient for fact checking. However, I want to know where I found each and every piece of information. That way, if an editor has a question, I can immediately point back to my sources. Scrivener allows me to easily footnote as I write, but, when it comes time to share my draft, I can strip out the footnotes. The editor doesn’t see them, but they are still there for me any time I need them.

Snapshots. In Scrivener, I can take a snapshot of each major draft or revision within the file. This means I don’t have to have 10 or more different documents floating around labeled “Rev 1”, “Rev 2” and so on, as I do when I write in MS Word. In Scrivener, I can compare versions or roll back to a previous version if necessary.

The software runs on Mac as well as Windows. I bought it for $35 with a coupon, which was quite a steal. Has anyone else had success with this program?

10 thoughts on “Writing Nonfiction with Scrivener”

  1. Hi Kristen nice post. I am just getting started on Scrivener too. I am currently finishing up Gwen Hernandez’s online class for the software. It’s been a great crash course. One of the Scrivener features I liked was the Text Statistics – Word Frequency feature. Probably not as useful for non-fiction but definitely needed in fiction. Apparently I used ‘like’ 15 times in my PB and didn’t even realize it! Also the usage of Labels to color-code the documents. I will probably use Labels to track progress of the document (Not Started, WIP, Final).

      1. No problem, Darshana. It happens ALL the time. Thanks for these tips. I have to admit, I haven’t even begun to dive into the “For Dummies Book.” I’ve just looked up a few things here and there.

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