Underwhelmed But Optimistic

Ti
Tirjasdyn
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:24 am Post

As presented at this time, I find the Windows version very underwhelming. The current version is pretty much yWriter 5 rearranged and lacking some key things. I understand that some of the following is to be added eventually and probably not in the current release. However I find this lacking enough that I don't really have a desire to spend money on it at this point. What follows are thing I don't like which others may like just fine.

A few things:

Double clicking on the synopsis panel to edit is really a pain.

The lack of tracking for characters, locations and item trackers is something I really can't do without.

I don't want my notes in the tree structure of my document. It makes for clutter in which I can easily loose things.

On that same note I like seeing my outline and tree view always together ala ywriter.

Not being able to see the word count on all documents separately unless I open the document is something I immediately miss.

As I said, I'll keep playing with it.

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AmberV
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:41 am Post

Fair enough, Scrivener is not for everyone! And I think we agree on that. It’s way more free-form than a lot of writing tools out there, and that is precisely why a lot of people like it. There are no “characters” or “chapters” or “tension metres” in Scrivener. There are keywords, labels, folders, etc. For some people that works really great! They can come up with creative ways to use the provided tools and like being able to use Scrivener to write their novel and their dissertation. But not everyone likes that vague approach, and that’s fine. We have lots of choice out there. So some of the things you want—they just probably aren’t ever going to happen. Scrivener is an all purpose tool. It isn’t going to have a character tracker or a timeline, or plot arc forms.

I won't try to convert you, but I've seen a lot of people come here with a "where is my character database" frame of mind, and end up liking Scrivener's free-form, quasi-wiki meta-data system just as well. Others don't though...

Disclaimer aside:

Double clicking on the synopsis panel to edit is really a pain.


I think this is being looked at. At the very least, a method to jump into that field and start typing immediately is on the list.

I don’t want my notes in the tree structure of my document. It makes for clutter in which I can easily loose things.


That’s fine, putting notes in the book outline is only optional. You might prefer using the dedicated notes field that each document has, instead, or creating a folder in the binder just for notes, and cross-referencing using the References pane, or in-text Scrivener Links.

On that same note I like seeing my outline and tree view always together ala ywriter.


I’m not sure what you mean by “tree view”. I’ve always referred to an outliner as a tree view.

Not being able to see the word count on all documents separately unless I open the document is something I immediately miss.


Is the word count column in outliner not working for you?
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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Th
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:33 am Post

The first writing software that I ever used extensively was yWriter4. (I preferred 4 to 5.) I liked how it was set up and how I could put in my characters, settings, objects, etc. And I liked how I could write my scenes and then group them into chapters and move them from chapters however I wanted to.

I tried Liquid Story Binder and the first time I tried it, it seemed totally insane and unworkable. But later, after going through a couple of tutorials, I really got to like it. The thing about LSB is that it doesn't force you into a certain structure. It gives you a bunch of tools and then you have to figure out how you're going to incorporate those tools into your process and how you're going to modify your process to use those tools.

I'm trying Scrivener now. I'm going to use it for Nano and for the current novel I'm finishing up. And then I'll see if I prefer it to LSB. But Scrivener is very similar to LSB in that it gives you ways to do everything you need or want to do but it doesn't necessarily have a set way to do it.

For example, I generally use a Weekend Novelist technique of "writing down the page." To do that in LSB, I'd open up a Note for that Chapter and I'd write down the page. In yWriter, I would have hit the Note tab and done it there. In Scrivener, I'm going to select the Document Notes and do it there.

In LSB, I create a Dossier for each scene and I use the Scene Prompts (that I created) to help me focus on what the scene is about and what the purpose of it is. This was similar to the Goals (and things) that yWriter made available for me for each scene except that in LSB, I could tailer the prompts to whatever I wanted. In Scrivener, I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to do this but I expect that I'll create a Scene directory in Research and then have a document for each scene and I'll just copy the prompts into there.

In Scrivener, I've already created Character, Setting, and Object directories beneath Research. I've copied my photos of my characters and locations into their respective directories. I'll put my Character Dossier information into those directories as well.

So, I think you can do everything you want to do in Scrivener, the question is which one you feel more comfy with. For me, yWriter always made me feel like I was being shoe-horned into someone else's process. I prefer LSB because I like it's configurability but there are some things about LSB I don't like and I'm hoping that Scrivener fits me better.

Ti
Tirjasdyn
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:13 pm Post

Is the word count column in outliner not working for you?


Aha! I had to go back twice to find it. The column was hidden off screen. That information works just fine.

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AmberV
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:20 pm Post

Ok, good. The totals columns are not correctly adding up statistics yet, but the basic single-document counters are working on all of my systems. You can move those columns around and remove ones you don't want to. So if word count is important, move it up a bit.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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Ti
Tirjasdyn
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:30 pm Post

The Pencil Neck wrote:I'm trying Scrivener now. I'm going to use it for Nano and for the current novel I'm finishing up. And then I'll see if I prefer it to LSB. But Scrivener is very similar to LSB in that it gives you ways to do everything you need or want to do but it doesn't necessarily have a set way to do it.


You're using it for NaNo. Braver than me. I'm trying it out with daily pages for now and copying out anything important. I'd never use a beta anything (ywriter or otherwise) for stuff I'm working on.

Either way my point was that it wasn't this amazing thing with features no one else has as many Mac users have told me it was.

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KB
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:53 pm Post

Tirjasdyn wrote:Either way my point was that it wasn't this amazing thing with features no one else has as many Mac users have told me it was.


As the developer and designer of the Mac version, I'm going to have to disagree with you there. :) When I designed and built Scrivener (which I first embarked on six years ago in code, and two or three years before that in my head), I had just switched to the Mac from Windows, had tried all the writing software I could find on both platforms, and no software package did what I wanted. Namely:

• Associate a synopsis with each part of my manuscript so that I could easily move between the outline and writing.

• Have it so I could move the pieces of the outliner around and this would update the structure and order of my manuscript.

• Be able to work on individual components of my draft - scenes or chapters - on their own or in context with the whole.

• Have all of the pieces of my manuscript available in a source list on the left so that I could navigate between them and open them in the editor on the right (initially I just wanted to combine Windows Explorer and Word - RoughDraft did a good job of that, but because it relied on Windows Explorer order it was difficult to arbitrarily order things).

• Be able to open research documents such as an image or PDF file (or just another text document) in a split view right alongside my text for reference as I write.

There was nothing else that did this when I designed Scrivener. I know this because if there had been, I wouldn't have spent years of my life learning how to code and then coding Scrivener just because it was the program I wanted - I would have got on with writing using existing tools. (I taught myself to program purely to create Scrivener - I was not a programmer but a school teacher. This started as a hobby and I didn't expect it to become a career, although I'm very glad that it has.) Certainly, since Scrivener came out there have been several programs on the Mac and Windows that have borrowed some of these ideas, so it's true that other programs do similar things these days (and I don't mean yWriter or LSB, both of which are entirely original and I think predate Scrivener - and if you look a little deeper you will find that they are very different programs to Scriv). But seriously, I tried every writing program out there before I decided to roll my own. I am not insane. I don't think.

So, it's absolutely fine if it doesn't work for you, or if you are underwhelmed by it - I think it was almost impossible to live up to the hype surrounding the beta - but please bear in mind that there are those of us who have worked very, very hard, for several years, on this program, and so calling it "no amazing thing" may be taken personally. :) If you intend to write a novel - or have written novels - I would ask you to think how you would feel if one of your readers described your work in these terms; some of us care about our software in the same way.

To clarify, though, I certainly wouldn't claim that there are no other programs with Scrivener's individual features; we've never made such claims. The whole point of Scrivener was to integrate features that were previously scattered through several programs. So, I used to write outlines in Excel and have dozens of Word documents for my notes and chapters, and I'd end up writing synopses on index cards, moving them around, and then copying and pasting between Word documents. There were a few writing programs around back in 2004 when I started coding, but nothing that solved these problems for me. If you're at all interested, you can read about the genesis of Scrivener here:

http://www.literatureandlatte.com/blog/?p=40

I doubt you could name one application dating from 2006 (when Scrivener betas first went out) that allowed you to assign a synopsis to each document which could then be used in a built-in outliner to move around items in the draft, and which also allowed you to store any file type right within the project for reference alongside your text.

Anyway, other than the fact that I strongly disagree with your assessment - but then I would, wouldn't I? - welcome to the forums! :) I hope you'll stick around as Scrivener matures and give it a change, but if Scrivener's not for you, I totally understand - I've always said that it won't be for everybody, and we've never tried to force it down anybody's necks. That's why we list our competitors on our links page (yWriter and Q10 will be added with next week's website overhaul), because we want users to try everything and only pick Scrivener if it suits the way they work.

All the best,
Keith
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kewms
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:28 pm Post

Tirjasdyn wrote:Either way my point was that it wasn't this amazing thing with features no one else has as many Mac users have told me it was.


*shrug* To each their own. I used yWriter for a while (or tried to). I wouldn't go back to a Scrivener-less Windows box if you paid me *and* bought the computer.

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Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:16 pm Post

Tirjasdyn wrote:
The Pencil Neck wrote:I'm trying Scrivener now. I'm going to use it for Nano and for the current novel I'm finishing up. And then I'll see if I prefer it to LSB. But Scrivener is very similar to LSB in that it gives you ways to do everything you need or want to do but it doesn't necessarily have a set way to do it.


You're using it for NaNo. Braver than me. I'm trying it out with daily pages for now and copying out anything important. I'd never use a beta anything (ywriter or otherwise) for stuff I'm working on.

Either way my point was that it wasn't this amazing thing with features no one else has as many Mac users have told me it was.


I guess it's all about expectations. I had heard Mac users raving about this but I really wasn't expecting it to be the end-all be-all of software programs (sorry, Keith.)

Right now, I think it has a cleaner, more professional feel than yWriter or LSB. LSB has always felt kinda clunky to me and I think some of that is because of the programming language Jesse chose to write it in. I also dislike LSB's reliance on the NAME of the file to create the association and links. I think that's a bad way to do it.

I'm finishing up a second draft of a novel and I'm trying to finish as much as I can before Nano. I'm writing in Scrivener and then moving the text over to LSB. If I have any issues with lockups or data loss, I'll fall back to LSB for Nano.

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KB
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:27 pm Post

I guess it's all about expectations. I had heard Mac users raving about this but I really wasn't expecting it to be the end-all be-all of software programs (sorry, Keith.)


There is no such thing. My point was merely that I wrote Scrivener to do the things I wanted, because other programs didn't do the things I personally needed; I have never, anywhere, claimed that Scrivener is the be-all-and-end-all of writing software programs because every writer is different, and what works for one does not work for another. It would be like claiming that a Moleskine is the be-all-end-all notebook, or that a Space Pen is the best pen in the world; it's all subjective. There is probably one one person in the world for whom Scrivener is the absolute perfect writing software: me. Well, except for the bugs, of course. :)

Best,
Keith
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:41 pm Post

KB wrote:
I guess it's all about expectations. I had heard Mac users raving about this but I really wasn't expecting it to be the end-all be-all of software programs (sorry, Keith.)


There is no such thing. My point was merely that I wrote Scrivener to do the things I wanted, because other programs didn't do the things I personally needed; I have never, anywhere, claimed that Scrivener is the be-all-and-end-all of writing software programs because every writer is different, and what works for one does not work for another. It would be like claiming that a Moleskine is the be-all-end-all notebook, or that a Space Pen is the best pen in the world; it's all subjective. There is probably one one person in the world for whom Scrivener is the absolute perfect writing software: me. Well, except for the bugs, of course. :)

Best,
Keith


It's actually a little embarrassing. IIRC, both you and Jesse (who created LSB) are both NOT programmers who learned how to program so that you could create an editor to support your novel writing. And both of you created really great pieces of software.

And here I am, a professional programmer, and I've never written anything to support any of my hobbies. (Well, except for some pretty cool language generator and name generator programs.)

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Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:13 pm Post

That's interesting about LSB, I didn't know that. I don't think that was around when I was on Windows - if I recall it came out just as I was still coding the first version of Scrivener - but I've always thought it looks like a great app. The great thing is that the size of the Windows user base should mean there's more than enough room for both of us, and yWriter and the other great programs already available on Windows.

Oh, thanks for the kind words, by the way!
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:26 am Post

Tirjasdyn wrote:Either way my point was that it wasn't this amazing thing with features no one else has as many Mac users have told me it was.


Could I please see a list of your published works, to see if I find them over- or under- whelming?

Given your extraordinarily high standards, I'm sure that I'm in for a treat. :roll:

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Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:04 am Post

You won’t launch Scrivener and be amazed if you don't get what you're looking at. Lee Powell's done a remarkable job of harnessing the core of Scrivener, but a beta is a beta (let alone a first ever beta) and a new user is a new user. If I had heard all the wonders of Scrivener 1.5 and then gone and opened up a 1.0 beta, I might have struggled with it and been frustrated. Instead, I had seen the video about Edit Scrivenings before I even had a Mac. 1.5 wowed me because I knew what to expect (plus it exceeded my expectations, beginning with the import of years of files in minutes) and it was polished with very few quirks.

Scrivenings (part(s)/whole) = Corkboard = Outline is deep genius, appreciated the more you learn of it and delve into it.

Unlike a lot of programs where as time goes on you learn more of the limitations, I'm still finding new advantages in its tools and freeform approach. On the other hand, it's kind of daunting to start establishing a research/story data system from a blank Research folder. With a half-baked organizing plan on import, I am finding I have a lot of notes clutter that I’m only really beginning to sort through—but it gets even easier with 2.0 to find and collect those bits.)

Tirjasdyn wrote:I don't want my notes in the tree structure of my document. It makes for clutter in which I can easily loose things.
What I’m figuring out: pick the top level folders carefully, and keep it to a few, for example: Characters, Locations, Items, Research. (Personally I’d like to split the binder with a resizing bar between Drafts & Notes, for easier searching/quick referencing of notes without having to scroll away from the draft.)

Tirjasdyn wrote:The lack of tracking for characters, locations and item trackers is something I really can't do without.
Oddly, the different features for tracking story elements is part of what I like about Scrivener! Granted, there aren’t any database fields like, for example, the per plot point and/or per character question fields of Power Writer. You can add liberal links in the document, document notes and document references. Example: in your notes about Character John, under his hometown you can have a link to the Hometown document filed under locations. This feature is better Scrivener 1.5, and superb in 2.0, but the basics are in the 1.0 beta. You can use keywords to list all the characters in a scene, and/or the location, and do searches on them to find related scenes, notes you had forgotten about. (2.0 gives you a visual marker of the keywords in the Corkboard, etc.) Perhaps if you described your needs better, someone could point out a solution you’re not aware of or a workaround.

Tirjasdyn wrote:On that same note I like seeing my outline and tree view always together ala ywriter.
If I understand what you mean, just open the Outline mode in the alternate editor. (If you wanted to, you could show the corkboard/storyboard the alternate editor instead.) I think there’s going to be a lock in place feature if its not there now, might help avoid it disappearing.

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Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:49 am Post

druid wrote:
Tirjasdyn wrote:Either way my point was that it wasn't this amazing thing with features no one else has as many Mac users have told me it was.


Could I please see a list of your published works, to see if I find them over- or under- whelming?

Given your extraordinarily high standards, I'm sure that I'm in for a treat. :roll:


Is there any reason why you feel the need to attack a new user for giving feedback that they don't think Scivener is the best thing since sliced bread? What exactly does their published works have to do with the software? I think it's great that you love the software but you really need to realise that not everyone is going to be bowled over by a beta version when they've heard Mac users raving about Scrivener. Even when it is a full version there are going to be people who do not like it, and will say they don't like it. It seems like you don't want anyone to express an opinion that is not favourable.