Friday, April 4, 2014

Word Processors for Writers - MS Word vs Scrivener

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! I know you're all super excited to be knee-deep into the last day of the week (I know I am). With the weekend being just around the corner, I know your attention span is probably as limited as mine is. *grin* But, try to keep focused as we discuss these two word processors available for writers on the market today (ones I've personally used). I'm also gonna tell you about something awesome that was on Flipboard this past weekend. Stay with me!

So, let's begin by talking about MS Word (since it's the most popular word processor out there).
The Pros:
  • Easy to use WYSIWYG editing program that has some awesome features (like the one I discussed here).
  • Easy to switch to print layout with a few minor adjustments (though I still recommend InDesign for this).
  • You can get templates for various platforms (discussion on that here).
  • Most people are familiar with the functions.
  • If you mess up your MS, a quick undo fixes your boo-boo.
The Cons:
  • Limited ways to incorporate images in layers for printed version.
  • Sometimes difficult to set up for printed version (for novices).
  • No bulletin board type feature or note card feature.
  • Wasn't designed specifically for writers.

Now, we'll go into Scrivener.
The Pros:
  • Built in Character bio sheets.
  • Built in novel templates.
  • Folders to manage chapters and scenes along with a cool note-card peg-board type thing.
  • Separate creation ability for writers.
  • Was created specifically for writers.
  • Can change a character's name with the click of a button.
  • Easily outputs to various digital platforms with the click of a couple of buttons.
  • Gives a lovely side by side view of your MS.
  • Keeps all research together in one file for easy reference.
The Cons:
  • Not easy to use if you've never messed with it.
  • Preferences must be set on day 1 and are a PITA to change.
  • You must learn a whole new program.
  • There's little margin for error when combining things or clicking buttons when you aren't sure what they do.
  • It's hard (might even be impossible) to undo big changes when the program auto-saves the way it does.
Now, I've used both of these (I got Scrivener at a discount for winning NaNoWriMo in 2013). I have to admit, I wanted so badly to fall in love with Scrivener, dive in, and use the hell out of it from day one. I'm not an unintelligent person, but to learn how to use a whole new program just hasn't been in my time management ability sheet lately. Yeah, I've had it for over a year and used it maybe twice. I wrote five chapters in it before pulling it all out and moving it to Word. I was hella confused and super frustrated.

Am I gonna make the time to learn how to use it? Maybe. I see the potential there, but I'd rather be writing. Will I ever give up MS Word as a processor? Not likely. I love Word. It's so easy to use! Not to mention the awesome tidbit of information on Flipboard about it this past weekend that makes me want to hug the hell out of Bill Gates.

Are you ready to hear this?

Are you sure?

MS Office now has an app for your iPad! It's called Office 365. Holy smokes! It's not cheap (at $100 a year), but it may be worth the money (for me, at least - an editor on the go). Scrivener has been working on developing one, but they haven't gotten there yet.

Check out Office 365 here and get more information.

Is that gonna make a huge impact on my decision of which one to keep using? It's possible. I have a feeling it's gonna replace Evernote for me. Everything stays in the cloud so you can access it from anywhere, on any device.

You all know I LOVE being synced across my devices and anything that saves me time. You all also know that I refuse to talk about anything I don't love, intend to love, or use myself here. I'm not compensated in ANY way for any of my posts, either (except by the continued love and comments by my readers). So, get on it and check this stuff out. Also, take my opinion with a grain of salt (I'm not a die-hard Scrivener lover yet).

What do you think? Stroke of brilliance on Microsoft's part?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

21 comments:

  1. I downloaded Scrivener but I lost patience trying to learn the ins and outs of it. I think when my schedule clears up, I'll give it another go.

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    1. I hate to bring this to light, but I was writing along and loving my story, then I clicked the wrong button and WHAM! my book was all in one document. Rather than risk losing the whole thing, I moved it out piecemeal to Word before searching for an undo. Guess what? Can't undo what I did. I haven't been back in the program since. Made me nervous. LOL! Thanks for the comment, Heather :)

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  2. I'm on a Mac and started out using Pages. For me, it has an amazing built in dictionary and thesaurus (which I found, sadly, recently). However, it doesn't catch nearly as much as word when it comes to grammar. Furthermore, it isn't compatible with stuff like Kindle. So I had to convert it to a word doc and it stripped all my formatting. So frustrating and gave me the incentive to purchase word for Mac. So now I start my draft in Pages (which has a free ipad app) and do a few edit run throughs before tossing it in word for the final edits and formatting (at least, that's what I'm doing for my second book).
    I tried scrivener and decided it wasn't worth it. I didn't find it useful for the series I'm working on. Maybe in the future, though, when I have a more complex world it would make more sense.

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    1. Even Word makes errors in grammar :) Be sure you're double checking with a style guide, L. K. Pages isn't something I'm familiar with because I'm a PC. :( But you should always do what makes you most comfortable. :) Thanks for the comment!

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  3. Another option to consider is the Office Online version of Word. It's a scaled down version of the full product, but it's free. I like to do my rough drafts on my iPad b/c it removes a lot of the distractions and allows me to focus on just the one thing. To that end, I've been experimenting with Evernote and Quick Office. Both work to some extent, but the fact that I always go back to Word to do my final version has always been a bit of an issue given that the formatting doesn't translate back well. The new Word for iPad solves this, but then so does Word Online.

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    1. That's a pretty cool option, Scott. I was using Evernote for ease of sync (and cloud backup), but how cool will it be to just move from the same program across all devices? :) That's gonna help me be a LOT more productive in my editing work, too. I can work outside my house without having to drag my laptop around LOL Thanks for the comment! Good to see you!

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  4. I have used both programs. Scrivener has a learning curve makeing it easy to give up on the program. Which is what I did. Sort of. I knew it had some awesome features but.... MS was so easy. Recently I took a webinar for Scrivener and my excitement has been renewed. I figured out how to use the corkboard and switch my story to an outline view. However I just learned how to add a macro to word, very cool. I wonder if Scrivener has the same feature... at the moment I'm using Scrivener but MS word is still calling my for my manuscript.

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    1. Hiya, Diana! Welcome to the blog. I'm glad to hear you haven't given up on the program because it IS an awesome tool. Will it ever become the only thing writers use? Hard to say, but I think Microsoft kinda has a corner on this one. Perhaps if Scrivener were easier to learn? I have no answer. :) Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  5. Btw, that Office 365 is for up to five computers! I got it as my husband and three kids could each have Word on their computers as well and for far less than a non-subscription cost, even spread over a few years.

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    1. Hello, Christina! Welcome to the blog. I completely salivated when I read about the program and how many licenses you get. Yeah! I adore things that save me time :) Thanks so much for the great comment!

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  6. I loved Scrivener from day 1. Yes, it is different and there is a learning curve, holy cow, you can do so much more with it than any word or word type of program. The more I use it the more I learn. Here is a tip: save your work to a thumb drive so if you ever screw up something and hit the wrong key you can just put it all back with your thumb drive. Oh, and Scrivener has an UNDO button as well. I love it and I have purchased it both for Mac and PC.

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    1. Welcome to the blog, darowley. I admit, it's a powerful writer tool and is a great thing to have in your corner to work with. But you have to agree, if you don't know it, it's a little intimidating :) I clicked the undo button when I made my booboo. It didn't work. :( Like I said, I wanted to love it and use it all the time from day 1. Sadly, it didn't work out for me (yet). You've found a program you love and that's amazing. SO happy for you :) You have a leg up on me. :) Thanks for the lovely comment!

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  7. I use Scrivener on my PC for creation and first drafts - I like the the folders for research and the corkboard feature. No iPad version yet, but I usethe big screen at home for shuffling things around and Evernote (copy/paste) for working on specific scenes
    However, once I go to beta readers, copy editors, etc, they all need in Word format so that they can edit and track changes.
    Cloudon on the iPad and Dropbox lest me carry on at this stage and keep synced.

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    1. This is a common misconception about Scrivener, actually. You can track changes, highlight, and leave notes just like you can in Word. But not everyone has Scrivener or knows how to do that. I think some of the features can't be beat by anything else on the market right now. I love Evernote, but the new Office seems to be the thing I'll be heading toward since it's all automatic with no need for more than one thing to mess with. Awesome comment, Ravens! Thanks so much for taking the time, and welcome to the madness :)

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  8. I developed a pretty good system for my first two books using Word and Notebook (by Circus Ponies software) on Mac. I applied a header style on every scene number so they showed as active links in the Dociment view panel, making jumping around the document easy. Notebook Heald all my characters, settings, photos, research, etc.

    Then I made the move to Scrivener. It was painful. Still is, though I finished my third novel in it. But I do like it. So easy to move scene order, have a brief synopsis for each scene, use colors for different POV characters. It's fast. Hasn't crashed one time in 18 months no matter how I abuse it (leaving it open when I move from home to Starbucks). Nice having everything together.

    My biggest issue is exporting the finished doc in the proper format. Still more learning to do there.

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    1. Hiya, Rich! Sorry to hear about your struggles, but super glad to see you not giving up :) I'm hoping my post today helps with some of that exporting you're talking about there. :) You're right when you say it's super stable, but I do hope you're backing up to some sort of external source. Trust me when I say you'll thank me later. :) Scrivener is one of the most powerful tools for a writer. I wish they'd move forward with their iOS development and maybe a cloud backup. Then I might take the plunge and learn it properly :) Thanks for the awesome comment. So happy you've found your peaceful place!

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  9. Hello!

    New writer here and i as most have been using Word but now have stumbled across Scrivener.

    The only thing stopping me from like it is this crazy thing.

    Why in the world cant I use a templete for say A4 page setting with page numbers ?
    Is it possible couse I just loves the look at having a plain paper in front of me.

    Best Regards
    /Mike

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    1. Hello, Mike! Welcome to the blog. I believe you can set your page size in Scrivener. If that's all that's stopping you, I suggest hitting the literatureandlatte.com videos page and watching a couple of tutorials there on how to do that. ROCK ON! I do hope you find a ton of useful publishing and writing information here on the blog to help you on your journey. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. Appreciating the time and energy you put into your site and in depth information you present.
    It's great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same out of date rehashed information. Fantastic read!
    I've bookmarked your site and I'm including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

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    1. Thank you so much. I try to give back as much as I can. Glad you're finding it useful <3

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  11. Keep this going please, great job!

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Play nice and have fun. If you're a jerk, I won't publish your comment. My blog. My rules. Thanks for taking the time to chat at me!