Last week I mentioned I had some Scrivener tips to share. Since Blogger ate the original post, I figured I’d save them for the letter ‘S’. Cuz, Scrivener, right? For those of you not familiar with this software, here’s a link to the Literature and Latte website (it’s not a referral link, I don’t get paid if you click it).

There’s a Windows version and a Mac version, and it’s inexpensive compared to something like Microsoft Office, so everyone can use it. What is it? In a few short words, it’s index cards meets a word processor. I won’t go into too much detail about the ‘what’ because this post is about some of the things I’ve discovered in using it.

Word of warning, I’ve never used the tutorial, because that’s not how I learn software. So some of you may already know these things, but they’ve been so very helpful to me. Word of warning, I’m using the Windows version, so if you have the Mac version, some of the commands will be a little different, but the concept will be the same.

Repeated Words
This is something you can’t do easily in MS Word (though in a couple of days I’ll tell you how to use it with something that’s unique to Word). In Scrivener, the left menu is a tree-view hierarchy of the pieces of your story. I keep all my parts under a main folder called ‘Manuscript’, and I let things like outline, character sheets, etc, sit at the same level.

  • Highlight all of the index cards in your left column that contain story. The easiest way to do this is to click on the top card, hold down ‘Shift’ and click on the bottom card. This will select those two sections and every section in between. Update: You also need to click the parent in your binder, the folder all the text files are in, or the main text file, and then click in the main window where your work is.
  • Click on ‘Project’->’Text Statistics’
  • A new window will open with some basic word count statistics. This is kind of cool, but nothing special. What’s important here is the link at the bottom that says ‘Word Frequency’. Click that.
  • The window will expand and show you every single word used in your story, and how many times you’ve used it.

If you know you have repeated words, but don’t know what they all are, this will tell you. I scroll through this list, and avoid pronouns, character names, things like that. But I look out for ‘weak’ verbs: started, began, took, things like that. I also look for adjectives or overused descriptive verbs: whispered, long, brushed, big, short, brown.

For me, I make a list and save it in a separate text document. It takes some time to sift through the entire Scrivener list, but it’s a big help in catching crutch words.

Name Generator
I just discoverd this recently, and I think it’s the niftiest thing ever, because I hate coming up with last names:
  • Click on ‘Tools’->’Writing Tools’->’Name Generator’
  • The tool will generate a list of first and last names for you. You can specify country of origin, how many names you want, if you want male, female, or both kinds of names, what letter you want themto start or end with, how many last names you want to get for each name…
  • The other tabs and buttons also have things like a name dictionary to give you definitions, a way to import your own list of names, and a ways to save the names you’ve generated

What kind of nifty things have you discovered in Scrivener that make writing easier?

During the entire month of April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. The alphabet will be my motivation, though the content of the posts will be very similar to what regular readers are used to. Check out the link for more amazing bloggers, and enjoy April!