“Practical Tips on Writing a Book from 23 Brilliant Authors,” by Steve Silberman, has big name authors giving advice on managing and finishing a large writing project — usually a non-fiction book or memoir. Most of these tips apply to the fiction writer also, so go read it.
Finished? Did you notice how many recommendations were made for Scrivener, in both the article and the comments? Many of those authors were referring to managing research so you might think, depending upon how much accurate research is needed by your novel-in-progress, that Scrivener isn’t for you.
Think again. I’ve been using Scrivener for my fiction projects for years, although I didn’t upgrade to 2.0 until recently (and I’m sorry I waited). One rule I have about software tools, of any kind, is that they must be flexible and immediately useful to me. I’m rather contrary about using software: it’s my way or the highway. So if a tool lets me immediately use it the way I want to use it, then it stays. If I’m forced to use it a different way, forced through an extensive learning process, or forced to use its process, it doesn’t last long. After all, it’s only a tool. What right does it have in forcing its process on me?
Yes, Scrivener can be used as a word processor and it can generate your manuscripts, but I’ve never used it for that. I’ll admit, with the advent of 2.0, those capabilities have become more powerful and more tempting. However, I’ve used Scrivener for plotting—story line and scene creation—sort of like storyboarding for a movie. I love the corkboard, where I can throw up scenes, move them around, evaluate whether they’re necessary, what their purpose should be, etc. I’ve also started using the Scrivener character templates, rather than writing up snippets in multiple places. So… you can use parts of Scrivener, mix and match with other tools, etc. I highly recommend it for the fiction writer. And, if I had a non-fiction project, I’d probably use Scrivener even more extensively. Give it a try.
Oops—it’s only for Mac. Many, many, many apologies, if you’re a Windows user ;-).