Use an appropriate tool to write your book

Drive you nuts!

Drive you nuts!

Are you are an author and you use Microsoft Word, iWord or Open Office to write your book? So, stop! Now! And read this post, you will thank me forever (or not, anyway…).

Going through some blogs I noticed how frequently people say they use a word processor. Nothing wrong with those softwares, but they are just not the appropriate tool for writing a book. If you don’t know anything about the softwares out there that were developed specifically for writers, it is time to get to know them better. And enough of those overwhelming folders (or whatever organizing system you use) that serve only to drive you nuts.

I’m going to talk about Scrivener (for Mac… they have a beta version for Windows), but there are other softwares out there with the same propose (StoryMill, OmniOutliner, among others).

So, what Scrivener do for you? Basically it helps you organize your work, sounds simple but it is magical. Scrivener is very flexible and you can you use it in a way that best serves the way YOU write. I dare say it even helps you write better, because it is really easy to follow through your work and see how things are fitting together. Let me elaborate on that:

  1. It has index cards! Every text you write has an index card related to it.

    Scrivener Corkboard (index cards)

  2. Outline. In this view you can have a full picture of your work. The text have fields, like label and status. You can also configure custom properties, for example I configured a custom property called “Hanger”, so it would be easy to track if the scene consisted on a hanger or not. In the picture below the person configured the custom fields “Significance” and “Area of Improvement”.

    Scrivener Outline and Custom Fields

  3. It generates ePub and Kindle format. Great for indie authors.
  4. I could go on, but I want to keep this post short.

Just so people don’t think I’m marketing for Scrivener, let me talk about a nice feature of a competitor, StoryMill (also for Mac, Steve Jobs rules), has: Timeline. For those of you who are writing the next Lord of the Rings, and want to count how many hobbit steps it takes for Aragorn to reach Helm’s Deep, this is the feature for you. By the way, this “hobbit steps” comment was not a lame attempt of a joke, I heard that Tolkien actually calculated that o_O. Well, back to business, the timeline feature let you keep track of your scenes in a time frame. This way you know that when Frodo and Sam are struggling to get to Mordor, Aragorn is kicking ass on Helm’s Deep precisely today at 12:34 (you can have the level of detail that you want).

StoryMill Timeline


There are similar softwares for Windows (go to the “Writing Software for Windows” section ), but I don’know t much about them because I’m a Mac girl… sorry…

If you want to know more about Scrivener features I recommend this post, it might be a little overwhelming for beginners but it explains some cool stuff.

Alright, enough, this post is officially too long. Summarizing, what I can tell you for sure is that my productivity increased significantly after I started using Scrivener. I sincerely hope that this post helps you. And Pleaaaase share your thoughts!


4 Responses to “Use an appropriate tool to write your book”

  1. Ego Negative Says:

    I poke fun at this stuff on my blog, but man I love Scrivener.

  2. Sangu Says:

    I love this post! I’ve never used a program designed specifically for writers, but maybe I should start – these sound cool!

  3. Radha Pyari Sandhir Says:

    I’ve been using Jer’s Novel Writer ( for Mac for the past couple of weeks just to try it out. I like it overall, though there are a couple of bugs when it comes to formatting and it’s hard to insert sections where you want them (for instance it starts off with Chapter 1 rather than allowing you to create a Prologue, or if it does I haven’t figured it out yet).

    I prefer simplicity to extensive lists and timelines which is why I chose this over Scrivener to try first – I don’t like planning what I write *too* much. There’s a ‘drawer’ that you can open along the side of the writing window in which you can store all sorts of tidbits and organize your outline, characters, places, etc., and you can make sticky notes as you type. You can also use the full-screen mode so that you don’t let anything else on your computer distract you. On the whole it perfectly compliments the way I write. At least that’s how I feel so far!

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