"Scrivener for Dummies"

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BethCutter
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Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:57 am Post

Has anyone read this book? Does it offer any good hints/techniques/tips?

I don't want to order it if it contains nothing more than what you can get from the manaul and the interactive thingie.


(Sorry if this is the wrong forum to ask in, but nowhere else seemed more appropriate.)

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druid
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Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:10 am Post

I haven't read the book you mention.
Never cared for the "Dummies" publishing concept.
Two I would recommend instead are:

1. Kirk McElhearn, Take Control of Scrivener 2 (TidBITS Publishing)
2. David Hewson, Writing a Novel with Scrivener (Kindle)

Number 1 is a clear introduction by a frequent Macworld contributor.
Number 2 is a helpful set of pointers by a successful crime novelist.

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BethCutter
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Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:01 pm Post

Thanks for the recommendations. :)

Still curious about the other book though, not being very experienced with Scrivener yet.

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robertdguthrie
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Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:46 pm Post

Take a gander at the author's website. She's got a lot of helpful tips there, which is what inspired her to offer online courses on Scrivener, and then eventually a book. Once you've had some time to peruse the tutorial, the manual, and her book, you'll be in a better position to determine if her book will be valuable to you.
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brian747
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Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:34 am Post

As a new Scrivener user I tried to read the full Scrivener manual, honest I did. But I found myself skipping through the dull bits, and consequently missing things that I then had to go back to find. Obviously my concentration span is not what it was.

So I bought the "For D*****s" book in spite of my detestation of the marque (the application of black insulating tape covers the offending lettering on the cover and spine perfectly adequately, I found).

In spite of my prejudice, I found Ms. Hernadez' book to be helpful. At least, it worked for me, both as an initial overview and also a subsequent reference source — although for the latter purpose it is obviously less exhaustive than the full manual. I also found it helpful that the author approaches Scrivener from a slightly different viewpoint from the obvious one.

Note that I said *book*, and I wasn't referring to any electronic publication. Much though I love my Kindle, when it comes to clear illustrations you can't beat old-fashioned printing. Not with my eyesight, anyway. And the illustrations are one of the more helpful elements here, and probably one of the reasons I found it to be a more helpful, and much more manageable, guide than my printed version of the official manual.

My only gripe is the usual one of a frustrated user of Scrivener on Windoze — it is not always clear when a feature is Mac-only, although I can understand that one day (but not soon, it would appear, at the present rate of progress) the Windoze version wil catch up.

Just my 2ȼ, or whatever the GBP/Euro equivalent might be. :wink:

Cheers,

Brian

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robertdguthrie
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Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:56 pm Post

While the manual is one of the best I've seen, it takes a certain level of fortitude to actually read a manual of any real length. I only read sections of it when I'm trying to learn about a feature I don't use often. The interactive tutorial is a definite step up in the sense that it's shorter, easier to grasp it's contents in one pass; I always recommend that people go through that at least once, so that they can learn about all of the major features, in case they might find a use for them.

But a book designed for gently introducing people to this very deep program cannot be beat for it's purpose, which is to address HOW you might use the various features of Scrivener. I've avoided the "Dummies" label for various reasons; pride is at the top of that list. I find it odd that people find it more offensive to be called ignorant of something, but are perfectly willing to label themselves as stupid (incapable of learning).
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Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:41 pm Post

Should one not approach the title of this series, and the not-dissimilar Idiot's Guides, with one's Irony Hat forced firmly on to one's head? :) At least both series titles command attention and early on forced their way on to dwindling shelf space.

P.S. Ever since Scrivener-for-Mac Version 2 I've been ready to praise the Scrivener Manual to the skies. It was, I believe, written extremely quickly with great attention to detail; I find it hard to recall any similar software manual put together by a very small team that is at once so detailed and precise and delivered so fast (although I'm sure there are a few). It is definitely a reason for valuing Scrivener. But it is of course a work of reference, not a read-through guide; that as you say Robert is the role of the Interactive Tutorial (which is also IMO pretty wondrous).
Last edited by Hugh on Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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robertdguthrie
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Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:47 pm Post

.. and with some rationality as well, yes. My dismissiveness of the entire series is irrational at best, like being willing to read a book with a cover that features the color red. If ever I am unable to find an alternative book for learning something difficult, I may deviate from my stance against buying books that, by my very ownership, labels me an idiot, dummy, moron, or any other label that implies low intelligence.

If they come up with a "____ for the completely ignorant" series, I'll check them out.
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BethCutter
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Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:12 pm Post

Brian, thank you for your reply!

Yes, it sounds like a book I will need. I *did* read the manual, really, except for a few chunks that I didn't think I'd ever need, but it was too much to take in at once.

A little more hand-holding is helpful sometimes. :)

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brian747
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Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:10 am Post

<smile> Totally agree on the hand-holding. As for the official manual, comprehensive though it undoubtedly is, it sounds as though your experience was similar to mine. The good thing is that after reading Ms. Hernandez, I found that manual less intimidating than previously.

As the author of a fair few textbooks and tutorials over the years, I always find the hardest thing (perhaps even impossible) is to put yourself back into the mind-set of someone who doesn't know what you know. So comments about the manual from Scrivener experts are to be seen in that light — for those of us still on the learning curve, however, the experience will inevitably be slightly different.

Cheers,

Brian

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BethCutter
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Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:21 pm Post

Well, I picked the book up on Saturday. I'm about 100 pages in, and I've already found three things I didn't know about (or missed in the manual, entirely possible) AND a bunch of other stuff makes more sense to me now.

So I recommend the book for any other newbie who needs a more gentle, slower approach. :)

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goforich
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Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:52 pm Post

I agree with brian747's gripe.
The author says she has chose not to clearly mark where content only applies to the Mac version, because Scrivener will be updated.
However, I have been frustrated by learning exciting things from the book, only to find that they did not apply to the latest version. I would have much preferred clear labelling of what will not work with Windows, (perhaps with the version number in brackets).
I now feel I need a list of all the pages that I should not begin reading. I could then go through and pencil the useless bits.If only such a list had been included at the back of the book.

It is doubly frustrating to have wasted time reading irrelevant material, and being reminded of the features that I cannot have!

Still, with future Windows upgrades my gripe will evaporate! I cant wait.
I bought two copies of the book when it was launched, fortunately the second one is for Mac user.
Richard

brian747 wrote:...........
My only gripe is the usual one of a frustrated user of Scrivener on Windoze — it is not always clear when a feature is Mac-only, although I can understand that one day (but not soon, it would appear, at the present rate of progress) the Windoze version wil catch up.

....

Brian
Goforich
Author of: Bottleneck- Our Human interface with Reality.
A book about the Narrowness of Now.
http://www.humanbottleneck.com

W7 64Bit
Scrivener 1.8.6.0

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hodderauthor
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Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:21 pm Post

I've been using Scrivener for just over a year now, and have just spent the past few days reading Gwen's Scrivener book. I've never had a problem with the manual, but for me it works best when I want to know how to do something specific - the search function works well in the PDF document. However, Gwen's book is highly readable, and I've learned a couple of things that I haven't come across in the manual ... yet.

For the sake of a few quid (or dollars) I think Gwen's book has helped me get a lot more out of Scrivener.

Sometimes, making the most of software is not about learning how every element of it works, but learning how other people use it. Gwen's book is useful and I can also recommend David Hewson's book too.

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isabeldorastorey
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Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:43 pm Post

My first attempt at using Scrivener was about 12 months ago and I just could not wrap my head around it. Decided to have another go and purchased "Scrivener for Dummies" which I had open on my second monitor and worked my way through it with a project on first screen and am DELIGHTED to be able to proceed with great pleasure and understanding.

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webbiegrrlwriter
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Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:54 am Post

Hi everyone,

I'm totally new to Scrivener (bought it in 2011 when I got a copy at half-price through Nanowrimo) but still haven't managed to actually use it yet. I'm fairly competent at learning software--quickly and easily, just about any software--and have been using computers since before MS Word (or Windows *grin*) I type about 100 wpm, which is still a little slower than my brain operates when I think. I talk faster than I type :) and I'm a speed reader and an engineer and actually a bonafide rocket scientist, for whatever that's worth (not much more than writing it here these days *haha*)

But....

I've gotta say, the so-called "quick tutorial" is anything but--either! It's neither quick to run through nor is it much of a tutorial in that it details such extensive levels of information, by the time I get to the end of a sequenece of steps, I have no clue where the process began. I have actually (finally) completed the tutorial after over a year of trying to wade through it.

Again, I'm not usually one to have any issues whatsoever with learning new software or doing the whole RTFM and hit the ground with both feet, running. I was an IT manager for almost 20 years, have owned my own web development company during the late 80s/early 90s when the Web Standards were being created, and I produced tutorials and was fairly well-known in our little community for knowing how to (a) learn things quickly and (b for better) explain them in simple, easy-to-understand language to others. Then came Scrivener.

::headdesk::

Worse, I am completely stumped by the Scrivener documentation. It does not in any way whatsoever get me "started" but rather, infodumps so much on me, I've drowned and have no clue where to start on my own.

The "Dummies" series isn't in any way a coordinated series, sadly (I wish!) and the "Idiots' Guide" series also is just a gimmicky name used to sell books, without regard to any standardization the way the O'Reilly books were (still are?) always formatted and organized in a similar fashion regardless of topic. I wish O'Reilly Books would create a Scrivener guide but in the meantime, I came by this thread in hopes of finding there was something else.

I'm fairly certain I'll end up ignoring the documentation entirely and just explore every little thing I can find to write my OWN documentation (and then sell it as a true quick start guide), but I had hoped someone else had already done this.

Thanks to druid for recommending the David Hewson book, Writing a Novel with Scrivener (Kindle). That sounds like the closest thing to what I'm hoping to find: a quick fly-through without deeply-detailed side trips. I'll definitely give that a try but if anyone knows of anything else that is either "mile wide, inch deep" (a Quick Start Manual) or "inch wide, inch deep" (a Quick Start Guide), please do post here.

As I said, I'm super new to the Scrivener software and want something to just get started quickly at using it to be productive. I'm a novelist (and American in case you can't tell from my Yankee accent in writing *wink*) and have multiple stories in process as well as maintaining a weekly blog publishing schedule and working two (2) day jobs so I don't have a lot of time to spare--and what little I have, I prefer to spend actually "writing the next book" as the saying goes and not learning how to wade through a software tutorial for a tool that is allegedly making my writing life easier.

NOTE: in case anyone's wondering why on Earth I would be bothering at this point, it's this: I'm a series writer. I rarely (or never) write standalone novels or other-length stories so I really have a need for connecting my books in one place, tracking things that need to be "set up" or "wrapped up" from one book to another, snippets of text that need to be repeated (verbatim) in each book of a given series, etc. I'm currently working on three (3) different series (one science fiction, two romantic suspense) and I have half a dozen non-fiction books I want to generate from blog content. *IF* I can get Scrivener to do what it is advertised for doing, it will help me immensely. My big issue's figuring out how to make the tool do the job (assuming it's a better tool than my over-taxed brain for keeping track of things for me.)

I probably won't have a lot of time to participate here (other than to ask for help or post a link to something I can offer off my Webbiegrrl Writer Blog) but I'm ticking the box to be notified of followups and promise I'll read if not reply to them. I'll try to reply to questions as soon as I can find time to get online again. My next day off is in 10 days so maybe then (LOL) Please ask me if what I'm trying to accomplish seems unclear. I recall seeing some mention somewhere *grin* that Scrivener is good for tying related works together in a project so basically, that's what I'm trying to do while also not losing actual WORD PRODUCTION capability in the process.

Thanks for reading my rant/request!

-sry
Sarah R. Yoffa
Webbiegrrl Writer
@webbiegrrl