Earlier this year, I was asked to give a talk on Scrivener to the May meeting of the Houston Bay Area RWA chapter. When I finally got around to putting it together last weekend, I had done so little writing in the last couple of months that I found myself practically rediscovering the software. The program more than proved its worth, if I had any doubts, when I used it to organize and write up my talk.
In the process I also discovered that it is very difficult to compress a piece of software as large and complex as Scrivener into a relatively brief presentation. I probably confused my audience (which fortunately wasn’t large), but I got some laughs, and some questions, and two people in the group have told me they are trying Scrivener out, so I must have done something right.
If a tour of Scrivener is a stretch for an hour’s workshop, it’s certainly far too much for a blog post. But one feature at a time, now that’s doable. So let’s start with one of my favorites, Project Targets. This little widget floats anywhere on your screen. Depending on your point of view, and/or your progress on your manuscript, it will either inspire you or kick your butt (hopefully into gear). Here’s an example lifted from my current work-in-progress; as you see, I haven’t been making much.
To use the Manuscript Target section, you simply fill in the number of words you’re shooting for in your manuscript, and the widget shows you how many words you have, and where you are on a scale of zero to completion. The bar starts out red and gradually changes color as it fills in; it turns to yellow and then green as you approach your target.
The Session Target is for more immediate word counts. If you have a personal target of x many words per day, or you need 5,000 words to meet your editor’s deadline, just fill in the number and Scrivener will tell you exactly where you are.
In the same section of Scrivener (the Project Menu), you will also find the usual word processing info. Project Statistics gives you Words, Characters, Pages (Printed) and Pages (Paperback) for the complete project and for the document you’re working on. The Options tab lets you adjust which documents are included in the project count, the word count per page, etc. Text Statistics gives you Words, Characters, Paragraphs, and Word Frequency for the document you are working on.
Eyes lit up in the audience when I talked about Project Targets at our meeting the other night. Clearly I’m not the only writer who needs a measure of her progress, and Scrivener makes it easy to see.
Now I just need to make some progress worth measuring!