Scrivener Software Review & Computer Back-Ups

February 29, 2012

Book & Software Reviews, Software

I’ve been experimenting with a piece of software for writers called “Scrivener“.  It’s got a number of advantages over Microsoft Word for writing a book and I think it will make my process less frustrating.  At the bottom I also have a brief discussion about backing up your hard drive.

There are several things I like so far:

  • The ability to work on individual documents that I can compile later into a single document.  In Word, I’d have to either do individual documents and combine manually or else I’d have to work on a single massive document.
  • If I create a long document and then want to break it into individual pieces, that’s easy to do.
  • Ideas can be laid out in an outline, in a notebook structure, or on a corkboard with index cards.
  • Research can be maintained within the notebook structure, yet kept separate from the writing itself.
  • Documents can be moved around, order rearranged, or folders created as groupings change.
  • Several types of themes are provided, from fiction to non-fiction to a blank.  Each one has some defaults to help start the creative process but are easily changed for my particular needs.
  • Outlines can be in a variety of ways or not at all.

I downloaded a free 30 day trial.  Scrivener strongly suggested I do the tutorial first and I was glad I did.  The tutorial was lengthy and didn’t even cover everything!  By the time I started using the software, I’d forgotten most of what I saw.  Because I knew what was in the tutorial, I simply left it open and referred to it extensively the first few days.

Some things were not intuitive about Scrivener, such as changing the default font (really, who uses Courier New?).  With only a few minutes of searching the forum, I found my answer.  I also found another template being shared by a member, based on the Christopher Vogler book, “The Hero Within”.  It gave me a lot of ideas for using Scriver even more productively.

I can put Scrivener on as many computers as I want.  I can’t cross platforms with my purchase, so I will have to buy a copy for each Windows and Mac if I want to use both computers.

The forum community discusses how to use to store your files in the cloud for both backup and for access on other computers. is free, although if anyone is interested in getting an account, please use this link:  Both you and I will get additional free storage for the referral.

Additional space can be purchased on Dropbox if you want to backup your hard drive off-site.  I use Carbonite for my back-up.  Carbonite is a back-up only and not for rummaging around or going in and out of.  Dropbox is made for uploading and downloading and can be used as additional storage space for your computer.

Regardless of what you use, please do regular back-ups of your hard drive.  A fellow blogger recently lost years of photos when her hard drive died.

I felt the $40 spent on this was well worth the money for helping me get my arms around my material, lay it out, rearrange it, write it, and keep my work flowing.

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About dogear6

I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

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12 Comments on “Scrivener Software Review & Computer Back-Ups”

  1. pattisj Says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on this product.

  2. Steam at Harper's Ferry Says:

    I’m still waiting for the software that will just write what I think and then organize it for me … Until then, I’ve still got notebooks, pieces of paper, dispersed Word files on 3 thumb drives and two computers for 1 book. Ha ha! I may give this a try, though.

    • dogear6 Says:

      I agree – Scrivener would be MUCH better if it actually wrote the book too LOL!

      You might want to check our Evernote as well. I have it on my computers and phone to manage and organize my materials. I actually lost a thumb drive last year; thankfully there was nothing confidential on it, but I’m doing it through the cloud now instead. Evernote actually maintains the files on your computer but syncs it between your machines. I have articles, research, things of interest, notes and to do lists in the various binders.

  3. Cee Neuner Says:

    Both Chris and I use Scrivener and really like it. It is well worth the $40.

    • dogear6 Says:

      It never occurred to me to ask the two of you about it. Duh!

      Would you want to do a tips & tricks together in several weeks? I’m still really new, but I’ve been around the forums looking up specific things like changing that darn default font!

      • Chris Alice Donner Says:

        I haven’t figured out how to change the default font yet, so please share that.

        Cee has become a master of using keywords to be able to find things later on. She might be able to give you some tips on that.

        We should share ideas and I can also talk about the alternative software I’ve looked at. Sounds like a good idea to collaborate.

        • dogear6 Says:

          This is a combination of several answers from the forum that I got to work for me:

          1. Open Tools > Options… and click the “Editor” tab
          2. Click the blue “A” button on the far left of the format bar above the sample text area
          3. Set the font and click OK (the new font should be displayed in the text preview area)
          4. Click OK to close the Options window

          This will affect all new documents that you create from now on.

          To convert the existing documents, select them in the binder (CTRL-click or click on the first one, then SHIFT-click on the last one to select the ones in between), and select Documents->Convert->Convert to default formatting.

          I probably wasted an hour the first time I went to use Scrivener (after doing the tutorial). I really could not function using Courier New. I know that sounds stupid, but it just drove me nuts.

          I’ll send you & Cee a separate E-mail and see what we can cook up – much more fun than struggling on our own.

  4. S. M. Worth Says:

    I downloaded the trial version of Scrivener and began toying with it in the fall of 2011. I initially used it for outlining, I loved the corkboard feature. I then decided to give it a try for NaNoWriMo 2011. It was the first year I finished. Attribute it to the intuitive interface, great tools or just having all your writing, characters and research in one program. I love writing in scenes and being able to drag and drop these as I need to rearrange my story is priceless. There is a free trial so why not give it a shot!

    If anyone decides to buy Scrivener I was given a limited use coupon here You’ll get 20% off – until it expires. Enjoy!


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