Author Topic: Why I've abandoned Scrivener  (Read 4006 times)  

Offline hankgarner

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Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« on: June 24, 2017, 01:44:29 PM »
Why I've abandoned Scrivener and some thoughts on the tools of the craft.
http://hankgarner.com/why-ive-abandoned-scrivener/

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Offline Nigel Henry

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2017, 01:54:11 PM »
I know your exact pain, Hank. I gave up on Scrivener in 2015 in exchange for a system of Dropbox, plain text, markdown, and terminal commands. Kind of complex, but it lets me use it switch between devices whenever I want without any formatting errors.


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Offline hankgarner

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2017, 02:01:22 PM »
I'm with you Nigel. There's something to be said for simplicity and portability.

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Offline EC Sheedy

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2017, 02:32:55 PM »
I can't abandon Scrivener, because I never did fully adopt it. I played with it, bought it, worked with it, then finally put it out of my mind. I always felt much like a lesser being for my failure to adopt. But the thing is, I am comfortable with Word. It's like a pair of warm socks. I know it and it knows me. We're a team. I work in the cloud and mess around between my Surface and my trusty Samsung laptop. All good. And all I need. I think if I had a lot of projects going at one time, revisiting Scriv might be on my agenda, but I don't. So there is that.  :-[

You, Hank, sound as if you've got a LOT of computer gear. I'll be thinking about that as I read Bloom, which, oddly, I just purchased on amz.ca before I read your post.
 

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Offline hankgarner

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2017, 02:36:39 PM »
Thank you EC! I have a lot of computer gear because I 1) am a geek. 2) do web design contract work 3) produce a podcast about writing twice a week 4) write. So just the necessities, lol.

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Offline Broken Monitor

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2017, 02:54:53 PM »
So it seems the main reason was that the project got corrupted when syncing to Dropbox? I have had the same problem. Do not open and work from a Scrivener project in the Dropbox folder or things will go south. I've had no errors so far by copy from Dropbox to my desktop, working on that copy, and then copying it back to the Dropbox folder. But that's a lot of extra steps every time you want to sync to the cloud.

And yeah, working with Word with the navigation pane open is pretty usable for me. Although personally I like Scrivener for the corkboard view as well as having lots of extra notes and multiple drafts in the same file. Splitting the view is handy working between drafts. And you can compartmentalize your project further in Scrivener by making a new note for each scene. Setting a heading in Word for every scene would get annoying pretty fast I think.

But I do agree -- use whatever removes the barriers to getting work done.

Online Flay Otters

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2017, 03:45:23 PM »
Word not Scrivener. Absolutely.
I used Scrivener to make files to upload to Amazon, but now I use Vellum.
So Word>Dropbox>Vellum
And note: every time you sit down to work make a duplicate of the latest docx file in dropbox, so you will always work on Novel.docx and save Novel copy 1.docx  (copy 2, copy 3 etc.)
So if your main file gets corrupted for any reason you can revert to the most recent file that isn't corrupt and not lose all your work.
The beauty of a docx file is that it will open correctly in Pages, and import correctly into Vellum. I don't trust Scrivener as much as Microsoft, in the same way I don't trust Apple software.
And backup your Dropbox somewhere else.

Offline Crystal_

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2017, 04:00:48 PM »
Really? I use a Dropbox folder for all my writing stuff, including several dozen Scrivner files and I've never had any issues with files getting corrupted

Online Flay Otters

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2017, 04:11:04 PM »
Really? I use a Dropbox folder for all my writing stuff, including several dozen Scrivner files and I've never had any issues with files getting corrupted
I do this for all my professional files so it spilled over into my writing hobby.
Photoshop corrupts a file usually once every 5 years, maybe less.
But I always duplicate the big layered hard-to-duplicate files, just in case.
Same way I make an offline backup of everything at the end of the day.
So no, you probably won't ever have a corrupt file, especially these days.
Right up till the point you do.
For example, what if the computer fails (power outage, kernel panic, OS crash had them all) just as you're saving the file, what happens to the half saved file?

And yes, Lynn the pseud, agreed, low-tech is best. Never trust auto-backup software with your creative files.

Offline hankgarner

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2017, 04:12:19 PM »
Yeah, that's the problem though. The syncing issues are well known. You increase the autosave time and that helps with one problem and you give it plenty of time to sync after closing the project on one platform before opening on another. You do all the right things, and still file corruption. And I'm not a Scrivener novice. I've been using since 2014 and done podcasts on it. I just don't have time to baby a tool just because. Life's too short.

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Offline Shelley K

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2017, 04:16:47 PM »
I've written novels in Word, Google Docs and Scrivener (and an Alphasmart Neo). I generally use Scrivener these days, after owning it for years and not using it. I originally bought it when it was half-off thinking I'd compile ebooks with it. I hated how those turned out. I tried writing with it, and didn't like it. But in the last year or two, I reinstalled it and began making notes for novels in it, and now I write with it pretty much exclusively. I remembered hearing a few people talk about problems syncing with Dropbox, they weren't doing something right and lost some work. So I write in Scriv, then I copy each chapter as I finish it and paste it in a google doc. When I'm done, I compile to my dropbox. Backups of backups, man. Only way to go.

Online Flay Otters

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2017, 04:21:13 PM »

Offline Steve M Author

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2017, 04:36:42 PM »
Wow, I've used Scrivener for a few years now and except for the rare project that included everything on my desktop, its performed pretty well.

But there is a large negative to using it: editors want to use MS Word with Track Changes turned on. So once I've finished another ode to the wet washcloth I left on the bathroom floor, I have to export the entire thing to MS Worm and let it burrow its way to my editor, who sends it back with more red ink than a fifth grade teacher.

From there onward, the gold copy of the ode stays in Worm. If I want it back in Scrivener then I have spend an hour to get it back there. And I can't quite see the benefit of doing this. A definite nice to have, but that's all.

So I will construct in Scrivener because the outlining functionality is what I need. Wish it weren't so but I've got Dragon and Scrivener working well at last. Just wish my editor would take a Scrivener file to work with. I know, the red ink of track changes proves they did the work. Still a pain in my backside.


Bottom Line: a prisoner of Scrivener until a much stronger tool for plotters comes along. Need something that causes a WOW to make me change.



edited to conform with forum decorum: no politics -- Ann
« Last Edit: June 24, 2017, 07:03:22 PM by Ann in Arlington »
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Offline hankgarner

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2017, 04:51:34 PM »


But there is a large negative to using it: editors want to use MS Word with Track Changes turned on. So once I've finished another ode to the wet washcloth I left on the bathroom floor, I have to export the entire thing to MS Worm and let it burrow its way to my editor, who sends it back with more red ink than a fifth grade teacher.


And this is no small thing. Working with other professionals is important.

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Online paranormal_kitty

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2017, 06:41:16 PM »
I've never been able to use Scrivener even though I really wanted to try it out because it was unreadable on both my laptop and my monitor. I hope they fix that issue with high res displays when they come out with a new Windows version if they ever do. I learned something very useful from your blog post though - it's possible to use a mechanical keyboard with an iPad! I was totally unaware of that and thought you could only use a Bluetooth keyboard with it.

Offline hankgarner

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2017, 07:10:12 PM »
Mechanical keyboards for the win! And yes, the windows version of Scrivener has always felt like the [illegitimate person] little brother.

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Offline Nic

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2017, 08:56:45 PM »
I tried Scrivener several times, and felt it was too much software to fiddle with for the job which needed to be done. I dislike Word, so in the end I opted for WriteItNow. It is now in version 5, has all the gimmicks I want from Scrivener plus the simplicity I prefer. I do not sync, but I regularly rename files on a save as mentioned by Flay Otters and save the entire fileset to my own cloud and a hard drive.

Offline EvanPickering

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2017, 09:11:31 PM »
I absolutely adore scrivener. And I don't even have a mac. Writing a book in Word is so frustrating.

I originally wrote HOOD in Word, after a few rounds of editing it was so laden with formatting errors on the code level that I could not fix even if I wanted to. When I tried to upload it to amazon it was a trainwreck. It took me forever to copy over the book to a plain text file to remove all the formatting, then put it into scriv and reformat everything basically by hand.

But the manuscript uploaded and looks beautiful, clean and consistent throughout. LEGENDS was even easier, because I wrote the whole thing from the beginning in Scriv, and honestly writing it chapter by chapter and having target goals and all that nifty stuff made it a dream.

I guess this is just a dissenting opinion. If you don't like/won't use scrivener that's cool, I got no probs with that. I just think Scriv is the best thing since sliced bread for writers, but hey it's not for everyone I guess.

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Offline Scott W.

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2017, 05:58:08 AM »


I guess this is just a dissenting opinion. If you don't like/won't use scrivener that's cool, I got no probs with that. I just think Scriv is the best thing since sliced bread for writers, but hey it's not for everyone I guess.

Evan

I agree. I love Scrivener. I've written the last ten books with it and it has certainly made the process faster. I export to Word for my editors and then reimport the corrected Word file back into Scrivener for compiling. It took a while to get all the compile settings right for the first book, but now that I have a template Scrivener has been flawless for compiling the final ebooks and PDFs for paperbacks.

I do find the extra steps of exporting to Word to be essential for my process though, because of the much better spell check features and track changes, but I would hate to give up Scrivener for its organizational capabilities.

Online Saboth

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2017, 06:23:27 AM »
I prefer Scrivener because all of my notes, characters, locations, etc. are right there. Being able to set keywords and look up information easily is nice too. If I were less scatterbrained and had a better memory, perhaps I could go with only Word.

I agree that formatting and compiling can be very frustrating, especially since it is not intuitive and many of the options aren't explained very well.

Online Susannah Nix

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2017, 06:47:37 AM »
I use a combination of different tools for different purposes. When I first start brainstorming a project, I freeform outline in OpenOffice. Then, when I'm ready to start my draft, I compose the manuscript in Scrivener. The flexibility of the different views and the ease with which scenes can be broken up, combined, and rearranged among chapters is unparalleled, and it keeps me distraction-free while I'm bashing my draft into shape. Once I've got a revised, full manuscript I'm happy with, however, I compile to Word for collaborating with beta readers and editors. I hate that I have to do this, but Word is the universal tool, despite the fact that it's by far the buggiest, most unnecessarily bloated piece of software I use. After all the editing is done, I dump the final Word file into Vellum, et voila, I've got a perfectly-formatted manuscript in minutes.

I have no idea what kind of formatting problems the original article is referring to with porting Scrivener to Word, because I've never encountered any. What I do have is a consistent problem with Word inserting extra spaces and randomly screwing up my formatting. I'm sure some of my issues are user error, because I just don't use Word enough to figure out all the arcane tricks required to make it bend to my will.

One probable source of trouble is also the the fact that Scrivener works better on Macs, and Word works better on PCs. I encounter Word problems on my Mac that don't happen in the PC version--and when I try to get my PC-using Word expert friends to help they are utterly baffled. Microsoft doesn't want people using Apple products, so they don't work very hard to make their software compatible with the OS. Likewise, Scrivener was originally developed for Macs, and the PC version isn't as seamless. *shrug*

All files are at risk of getting corrupted, and everyone works best in the UI they're most used to. The best way to be safe is make sure you're using multiple redundant systems of back ups, no matter what software you use.

Offline Dax

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2017, 08:07:37 AM »
I originally wrote HOOD in Word, after a few rounds of editing it was so laden with formatting errors on the code level that I could not fix even if I wanted to. When I tried to upload it to amazon it was a trainwreck. It took me forever to copy over the book to a plain text file to remove all the formatting, then put it into scriv and reformat everything basically by hand.


Are you saying the formatting errors from accepting so many different Track Changes and revisions from editing, or other formatting errors like the Styles and trying to prep it for publishing? (I know that I've had issues at the Day Job with accepting multiple edits on lengthy documents and the document blacking out as a result.)

To the topic, Chris Fox had a video on "Why I'm Abandoning Scrivener", though I've not listened to it yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNnNgCxP7Ww

A friend of mine uses Scrivener. It looks very, very cool, but I think I have too much Shiny Object Syndrome to use it at this time. So much Shiny Object Syndrome that I'm best off right now writing on the Neo and uploading to Word from there, which is what I did with my last book. Still open to other ideas and approaches, though. I do like that Scrivener is one-stop-shopping, but I think I'd just be fiddling with the features so much that it'd be an uphill battle to get anything meaningful done!

Now I just have to save up for Vellum and Mac in Cloud for formatting...

Offline Nic

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2017, 08:26:33 AM »
Are you saying the formatting errors from accepting so many different Track Changes and revisions from editing, or other formatting errors like the Styles and trying to prep it for publishing? (I know that I've had issues at the Day Job with accepting multiple edits on lengthy documents and the document blacking out as a result.)

That's the reason why my editors have to either type their comments into brackets in a .txt or .rtf file, or do the edit in red ink in an actual printout. I absolutely will not work with changes or comments in Word. Too many errors waiting to happen, too horrid a code salad at the end and never a clean file.

Offline Perry Constantine

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2017, 08:37:52 AM »
I've actually had the opposite experience of the OP. Not once has a Word document I compiled in Scrivener come out anything less than perfect. I've also edited for clients who wrote in Scrivener and then compiled for Word and had zero problems. In fact, it's usually the clients who have written in Word that have all sorts of weird formatting junk in their manuscripts because they do things like hit the tab button to start new paragraphs or hit enter a dozen times to start a new page. It's an especially large pain when doing print formatting.

Word, though, has given me an endless parade of headaches. It crashes on me constantly. I don't think I've ever had a Microsoft Word session in the past few years where the damn thing didn't crash. If it weren't for the fact that my editor and most of my clients like to use track changes, I would have purged Word from my computer years ago.

Now I plot and write in Scrivener. Once I'm done, I print a hard copy and edit that way, then put those edits back into Scrivener. If there's more work to be done on the manuscript, I'll do it then. Once it's complete, I compile to Word and send it to my editor. When I get it back, I go through the track changes very carefully, saving every two seconds because I just know a crash is inevitable, and once it's all clean and complete, I drop it into Vellum and InDesign for ebook and print formatting.

Offline Tulonsae

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Re: Why I've abandoned Scrivener
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2017, 08:56:02 AM »

To the topic, Chris Fox had a video on "Why I'm Abandoning Scrivener", though I've not listened to it yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNnNgCxP7Ww


I watched that video. Chris still uses Scrivener for writing. If I recall correctly, he just gave up on the formatting and uses Vellum now.