google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html Scrivener - A Book Review and A Contest! | The Armchair Genealogist

Scrivener - A Book Review and A Contest!

Scrivener

 I’m not the kind of gal who takes to reading a manual, there's just too many great books in the world for something so dry. And honestly, if I needed a manual to learn the basics then I will surely pass on the program, that much I’ve learned about myself. I like to learn hands on and quickly.  This is why I started using Scrivener as my primary writing software program.

After having used Scrivener for about a year and not really venturing much further then the basics, I decided it was time to expand my knowledge. I purchased a couple of books to take my learning to the next level. Now, Scrivener comes with a 500 page manual, and while to some degree it might seem perfectly reasonable to use it then to purchase another book, it was is in my opinion not as wonderfully user friendly, like the program it was detailing. I’m ok with that because I found Scrivener For Dummies.

Now let’s make something perfectly clear, anyone can use Scrivener and if you never looked at a manual you would be perfectly good to go. However, after passing by many of the features of Scrivener for over a year, I decided to take some time to go beyond the basics and get to know Scrivener better.

Scrivener for Dummies is written by Gwen Hernandez, and published by John Wiley and Sons Ltd. She began using the program in 2009 and writing about it on her blog, The Edited Life. Before she knew it she was writing a book to help her fellow writers. I purchased the book this past summer and immediately it became my desk reference for Scrivener.

This is how I used Gwen’s book. I never sat down and read the book from cover to cover (Sorry Gwen). I got acquainted with the table of contents. Scrivener for Dummies is divided into 7 parts and 23 chapters making it very easy to zoom in on any given topic straight away. It also has a very complete index. I flipped through the book a couple times and got acquainted with the design and style of the book. I then flagged some chapters with particular elements of Scrivener that I knew interested me the most and  I thought would definitely appeal to a family history writer. With Scrivener and Scrivener for Dummies open in front of me, I began learning one or two new things and started putting them into practice. In 10 minutes, I could find, read and utilize a feature of the Scrivener program.

I can’t tell you how many times I remarked to myself “Cool, that’s how you use that!”

There are so many hidden treasures in Scrivener and Scrivener for Dummies is a wonderful companion to help you uncover them with little effort and in the most efficient manner possible. The design of the book with it's bite-size manageable pieces of information make it the perfect reference manual.

Scrivener for Dummies has given me a more in-depth  knowledge of the program that in turn allowed me to create the Scrivener for the Family History Writer Video series. The more I learned about Scrivener the more I knew it was a perfect fit for family historians. Gwen agrees with me and tells me genealogists make up a considerable portion of her Scrivener classes that she now offers online.

The Scrivener program is so affordable that I recommend spending a few extra dollars and picking up Scrivener For Dummies as your desk reference. On the other hand, you could win a free copy.

I’m giving all of my readers an opportunity to win a copy of Scrivener for Dummies. As an added bonus, Gwen is throwing in registration to her Scrivener online classes.

The winner of the book will receive a signed copy of Scrivener for Dummies from Gwen and a registration to Gwen’s next 4 week session of Scrivener classes set to begin in 2013.

How to do you enter? Simple. In comments below, tell me how you are using Scrivener or plan to use Scrivener in your family history journey. What kinds of projects do you plan to use it for, a book, short stories, ProGen, articles, blog to book or anything else family history related or not. If you're shy, you can drop me an email with the same info at lynn@thearmchairgenealogist.com.

Gwen will be checking into comments today so if you have any questions for her fire away!

I will enter all names into a hat and pull a winner on November 30th, at 7pm EST. The winner will be announced on the blog the following day. This contest is open to all Canadian and US residents. 
That’s it. Easy peasy.

Now explore Gwen’s website, take a look at the book here or check out the Scrivener for Family History Writer Video Series. Really, what are you waiting for, with so many resources for Scrivener available to you, there’s no need to hesitate, it's time to make Scrivener your newest family history writing tool.

(The above post contains affiliate links.)

46 comments:

  1. I bought Scrivner some time ago, thinking it would help me write my family history story. I used it for a few writings, and imported my NanoWriMo 50,000 word story to it. Until Lynn posted her lessons, I still did not use it much. At the same time I finished scanning and transcribing 70 letters written by my GGGrandparents during the Civil War. The transcriptions were written in Scrivner . I finished the transcriptions last week. This week I have organized the outline using Scrivner. If I don't get the book written, I only have myself to blame. The outline is amazing. I realize that I can write in order, or whatever chapter I feel like writing and everything will stay just where I want it to be.

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  2. I'm having a lot of fun with Scrivener. So far I have used the program to write essay question answers, write short articles and even collect more extensive notes for a lengthier article (in progress). I have not yet used Scrivener for blog posts but see great potential there as well. I think the program will really shine on more extensive projects like a narrative 4 generation lineage, etc.

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  3. I bought Scrivner last year during the Family History Writing Challenge. I'm writing my family history and my goal is to have a book. Scrivener is great because I can split the screen when I'm rewriting a section, or if I want to refer to some background material. It's easy to go from section to section. I also write notes in the side column to remind me of additional research I need to do. I know I'm not using all the features and I want to learn more about it.

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  4. I bought Scrivener a few years ago and found it was oriented more towards the fiction writer in its instructions, if not in its utility. For me, it wasn't especially intuitive. I ended up losing interest in the book project I was working on and I never returned to Scrivener for anything else.

    Now I'm going to be working on a book that needs a lot of organizing. It's a history of my mother's family, spurred by the fact that my great uncle was Sigmund Freud's butcher and his shop is now part of the Freud Museum in Vienna. In the blog that I created to prepare for the book, I've been going off on different tangents about meat and psychology as well as on larger issues of genealogy. I know that Scrivener now has a nonfiction component and I think it'll be a great tool for me to organize -- or at least keep track of -- all these disparate threads.

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  5. Without Scrivener, I would not have been able to sort and resort all the information on my husband's family. I probably could have done it is Word but being able to see and rearrange what I have on the corkboard is extremely helpful. The book is almost done but now I have another family story to tell. Finding the information on the family is difficult. At least, the process on Scrivener is not.

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  6. Recently I used Scrivener to write a proof argument for ProGen. I loved being able to put the supporting documentation right into Scrivener and refer to it as I was writing.

    My next project will be a couple of biographies on my ancestors.

    Thanks for telling us about Scrivener for Dummies!

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  7. I've heard so many great things about Scrivener and have tried to use it. I'm computer literate yet find myself stymied--I can't figure out why it's better than other word processing software. So the book I'm writing is being written elsewhere--but I'd still love to give Scrivener a chance.

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    1. Kelly: When I first heard about Scrivener, I wondered why I would need anything more than Word too. What I love about it is the ability to write in chunks that make sense (scenes, chapter, etc), move those chunks around, write them in any order (instead of beginning to end), color code them by point-of-view, storyline, or setting, and store all my research and photos inside the project so I don't have to go looking for it elsewhere.

      Scrivener takes a little getting used to, but most people think it's worth it once they figure it out. Either way, good luck with your book!

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    2. Kelly, I agree with Gwen. Scrivener is so much more than a word processor, it really is a project management system. It's a place to brainstorm and organize and set goals and review research besides being a great word processor.

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  8. I thought I would use it for a novel and my family history story. Since I always have problems learning software (LOL), a book for Dummies (ME!) and some classes would help greatly!

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  9. I purchased Scrivener after Lynn mentioned the program during the Family History Writing Challenge. Writing the Boon Family story is so much easier to organize as well as letting my writing flow. I really need to use the program functions better and would love to take Gwen's online course. Scrivener for Dummies sits on the corner of my writing space. Love it!

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  10. I'm writing my master's thesis with Scrivener on comedy and Harold Lloyd. I love the way I can easily add references from research, ideas for paragraphs, and (re)organize by section and subsection. It is going to become my ally as I write my way through this monster of a thesis. Once that is in order, I have one or two scripts started that I would like to spend more time on.

    I am so glad I found Scrivener, and I've only scratched the surface of what it can do.

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  11. I actually started using Scrivener to write a historical fiction based on a member of my husband's family whose artifacts I have inherited. I could not have done so much with this piece without Scrivener to help me keep chronology and character in place. Also, as a historical work, I want the facts to be accurate to the time. Would love the book and the class. I re-did the tutorial this year and learned a few more ways to use this powerful tool.

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  12. I'm not a fiction writer, but I live to read and am compelled to write, so I bought Scrivener a few months ago after being frustrated by every text editor, word processor, and page layout program available in the past 20 years. Scrivener fits my needs better than anything else so far; I'm using one project file to keep a daily journal and another as a 22 MB database of articles, writings, and correspondence by me and by others. I recently found a promising recipes template, so I may start using that soon.

    I've already bought and read "Scrivener for Dummies," but I'll take that online class, thanks!

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  13. Thanks for such a nice review, Lynn! I love reading what everyone's using Scrivener for. =)

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  14. I just got the trial version this month for NaNoWriMo and I'm already stuck. I mean stuck. So confused, and that is after reading the entire manual.

    My first novel is autobiographical. My second is about the line in my family that has been traced to the Howland's and Dickenson's from the Mayflower. I have oodles of research to be compiled. I'm also working on a "how to" teach children about American History thought their own family tree.

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  15. I am using Scrivener to write my dissertation in Native and Ethnic studies, where I trace the emergence of the Native mother in historical and popular texts and then through her relationship to haunting. My ancestor led the Modoc War in 1873 and was tried and hanged, and so was supposed to end our family, the myth of the disappearing Indian. I follow the Native women in my family who are largely absent from history through the 20th century. I use photographs, family stories and even star quilts to discuss their presence where there is only historical absence. LOVE Scrivener, it has made my life so much easier since I began using it, but still I do not understand so much about it and I am afraid to try things because I do not want to lose my hard work.

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  16. Wow, what a perfect giveaway! I got Scrivener a couple months ago and am going to use it to write a historical fiction novel about my 5x great grandparents, who were pioneers in the early days of Kentucky. I'm still in the research phase at the moment, but having the dummies book and a class under my belt when I am ready to dive into writing would be AMAZING. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

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  17. I've been using Scrivener for about 6 months for my family history blog. I have some very basic templates set up that help me capture ideas and allow me to see at a glance what stage a particular post is in. I really like it and would like to expand my use of it, I'm sure I'm only scratching the surface.

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  18. I bought Scrivener earlier this year and I love it. I have used it to write and publish two, short story collections and now I am writing a novella with it. In fact, a couple days ago I recommended it to a friend who is getting ready to start writing her first novel. While I love the program I'm sure there are many areas that I could utilize, but don't.

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  19. This month I am attempting NaNoWriMo for the very first time, in large part because Scrivener gives me the confidence to attempt long-form writing for the first time.

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    1. brilliantdisguise: That's great! Scrivener is perfect for NaNo. When I can't think of the right word or don't know a fact, I insert an annotation to remind me to go back to it later, and then keep writing. And I love that I can jot down a note if I get a scene or story idea, and then continue writing without worrying about losing my idea.

      And of course, project targets help keep me on track. Good luck with NaNoWriMo!

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  20. Lynn (and Gwen by rebound) I have Scrivener but haven't used it a lot ... until I tripped on your blog. This gave me an idea to handle a file I received from a genealogy researcher about my mother's side of the family. It runs for hundreds of pages each packed with large families. It gets quite confusing. I thought I'd use the 'tack board' to unconfuse some ot the weird links in the file. Thanks for helping resolve a problem for me.

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  21. I found a great use for Scrivener. I'm a long-time member of Toastmasters and I realized Scrivener is perfect for crafting my speeches. I even have a template for speech preparation. Recently I was working more on Storytelling and I used Scrivener to write few storytelling speeches about my family. I still have more episodes from the life of my family, when I was a child, but also from recent times when my little daughter Ela was born and be sure I will use Scrivener to prepare speeches for my Toastmasters club. Scrivener is really great!

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    1. I love that idea Peter. Many genealogists speak at genealogy conferences so yet another way they can benefit from Scrivener. I also love that many writers end up on the speaking circuit, so Scrivener can be utilized to write their book and craft their speeches.Perfect!

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    2. Peter: Speeches are a great use for Scrivener! I earned my CTM about 10 years ago, and I would have loved Scrivener for taking notes on future speech ideas, keeping an electronic record of them, organizing them by which book/level they were for (maybe color coding), and keeping track of the feedback. Plus, they're easily searchable.

      Congrats on figuring out the templates. They're handy once you get the hang of them. :-)

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  22. I've been using Scrivener for a little more than a year. Heard about it during last years NANOWRIMO. I would LOVE the manual(s). I know I'm barely using the tip of the ice berg with all it can do. I just wish it had an app to use it on "the cloud" on the iPad/Tablet. Interesting to see how Peter is using it for speeches. I'd like to use it more and really organize some research material.

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    1. Nanci: There is an iPad version in the works, expected to come out by Easter 2013. Not sure if it'll use the cloud to sync, but that would be awesome.

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  23. I am using Scrivener to write my honors in the major thesis for Medical anthropology. I am focused on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). What does this have to do with family history? Well, my father is a Vietnam vet who has only in the past few years been diagnosed with PTSD, and yes, he is part of my research. Maybe my children will understand their missing grandfather, maybe not, but a part of the story will be there.

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    1. Scott: I wish I'd had Scrivener during grad school. I'm trying to get my HS kids hooked on it now. Heck, they have tech support under the same roof, right? ;-)

      Your project sounds fascinating. Good luck getting it done!

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  24. I am brand new to Scrivener, having just purchased it a couple of weeks ago. I took the plunge largely thanks to your helpful tutorials, Lynn (thank you!). I still have a big intimidation factor every time I look at it, and haven't used it much because I feel I need a big chunk of time to get past the learning curve. The Scrivener for Dummies book sounds like it would be ideal for getting past that. I would like to set up a project for my blog initially, another for articles, and then one that I hope will materialize into a book in time. I can't wait to begin using the program to its fullest!

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  25. I recently purchased Scrivener which was one application with a larger (30 application) bulk purchase offer by MacHeist. I have not yet used it, but after reading this article and subsequent comments I am now inspired!! I will look to use this program to document my life, as well as begin documenting the lives of my ancestors which I have been researching for so long. Thanks for sharing!

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  26. I downloaded scrivener and worked my way through the easy-to-follow tutorial less than a week ago. I'd considered taking Gwen's course and added her book to my amazon wish list before coming across this kind offer. So count me in ☺.

    My first impression was that it looked primitive, but that this could be a good thing for a first draft--then I discovered it's flexibility and worlds opened up for me. I can see why so many people swear by it.

    I've never considered myself a writer (till now), but find myself with a story that needs to be to be told. I have more than ten times the material than I can use for a memoir stored in a mess of files; and think (and pray) that scrivener will help me to shape it all into a compelling narrative.

    I've already been taking notes from Gwen. I love the thought of files for unused scenes and an outline.

    My other goal for this year: to read 100 books for inspiration. (A good idea from Heather Sellars in "Chapter after Chapter.") I'm reading every well-written book I can while I find the words to write a story than nobody else can or will. A few Dummy Guides have made the list. And now Gwen's is one of them.

    It's a funny thing. Shortly after downloading scrivener I thought "I feel like a real writer now." (If you are a real writer try not to shake you head too hard.) It's as if somebody handed me keys and said "Go and learn to learn." That's something else I have to do, but driving lessons can wait until after my book is published.

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  27. I have decided to take the leap and begin using Scrivener for a digital memory preservation company I have started. It is Digital Foliage. The base service I offer is digitalizing family pictures, but I also do slideshow presentations and memorial booklets. After researching about Scrivener, I decided it would make my workflow a lot easier. This book would make it a lot easier to understand the ins and outs of the program.

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  28. I'd like to use Scrivener to help me write my family history, which I plan to publish in a book.

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  29. I bought it and haven't used it. I need a jump start! This book sounds perfect.

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  30. I haven't purchased Scrivner yet. I downloaded a trial version a couple years ago when the Windows version was still in beta. I played with it a bit but it was very rudimentary at that point and I couldn't figure out how I could use it for my family history. I wasn't ready to write my family history then either. But I think 2013 may just be the year I tackle writing that tome and I intend to use Scrivner to do it! I sure could use that book and the classes!

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  31. I downloaded the program, but I never explored it enough to get a hang of it. Definitely could use the book and the classes to help me move forward on my many book project ideas!

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  32. I have not tried Scrivener yet but am very interested in using it. My initial plan is to write short stories about my family history and the journey of discovery. I have also been involved some cemetery research and I would like to compile the stories of those buried in a historical cemetery where much of my family is buried. Who were the individuals and families and what were their lives like before their death and burial in this beautiful cemetery.
    Thanks for introducing me to Scrivener. It is on my Christmas Wish List!

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  33. I happened upon your rather excellent YouTube video about Scrivener a few months back. After watching it, I downloaded the trial version and played around with it. My first thought was "where have you been all my life - as a student, a family historian, a society member, and a newbie/intermediate genealogist?"

    I thought of all the times I could have used this "writing system" and decided that while it might have come late into my life (although I am definitely using Scrivener for keeping track of my society newsletter articles, my Guild of One-Name Studies' tutorials, my in-depth stories of my ancestors for my personal family history, and a little creative writing project on the side), the BIG BONUS was being able to share Scrivener with others. I introduced my sister (she is using it for her doctorate program), my nephew (he is using it for medical school projects) and my niece (she is using it for her law school projects)to Scrivener. As the old saying goes - and so on and so on! Now another three nieces are using it with (for 2) their undergraduate studies and (for 1) her applications to college! And finally over dinner at a recent wedding reception, I introduced Scrivener to a friend of the bride who happens to be an aspiring screenwriter.

    So having found this program (thank you Scrivener for being in both Windows and Mac - I have friends of both persuasions), I am now passing it on and paying it forward. And all because I stumbled upon your video and thought - oh, this one is big! Thanks to Scrivener and you, I am now the cool sister, aunt and friend who is referred to as "the techie one."

    I am still learning all the great things Scrivener can do. Just think what I could do with that book and the classes - oh the people I could reach. Thanks again for introducing me to Scrivener and for your great tutorials that have helped me get more out of the program.

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    1. Tessa, thank you for sharing your story and for sharing your enthusiasm about Scrivener. I feel the same way about this program. I stumbled upon it started using it and wonder how is it the entire world doesn't use this program. I love to share finds like this and like you, I want everyone to experience Scrivener. I'm sure sometimes to the point of driving people crazy. Something like my passion for genealogy. If you're using Scrivener you can't help but be cool, because it's cool!

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  34. I don't have Scrivener but was thinking about buying it for my family history. I've read recommendations for it and would like to learn more about it.

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  35. I'm using Scrivener for my third novel. Drafting was a breeze. Now I'm in heavy revision mode. There is so much this product does that I've not figured out yet.

    I'm hoping to figure out how to split the novel up into its elements to work on it as I revise. Do you know if there's a way to tag scenes based on primary pov and have just those scenes show on the screen?

    Thanks!
    Amy Pfaff

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    1. Amy, you can tag your scenes with keywords. Go through your manuscript and assign the tag primary pov to those scenes. To view which these scenes Open Project-Project Keywords, click on the keyword you want to search for in this case Primary POV, Scrivener will generate a list of scenes in the binder that contain your keyword. Hope this does the trick for you.

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    2. Amy: Lynn's suggestion will work. Another option is to tag them by Label, Status, or keyword, do a project search for that POV. That will give you a list too. (I have a short post on advanced searches here: http://gwenhernandez.com/2010/03/16/tech-tuesday-advanced-searches-in-scrivener/.)

      You can even save the search as a collection. Then whenever you choose the collection it will dynamically update to include any new scenes in that POV (or remove those you've changed). Saved searching is in the same menu I talk about in the post I mentioned above.

      Good luck with revisions!

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  36. I just got Scrivener and I'm planning on using it to record family stories.

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