You know how sometimes you fantasize about this perfect tool that will make a really hard job magically more manageable? And how most of the time that fantasy remains, well, just a fantasy?
Well, here's good news for writer types dreaming of a software tool that will let you keep track of your brilliant (and not-so-brilliant) ideas, sort them, and shape them steadily into a novel (or term paper, screenplay, or other longer work that strikes your fancy).
I'm writing my third novel in Scrivener, and I like it. A lot. If you don't know about Scrivener, you should. It's available for Mac and PC (in a beta version, I think). For what you get, it's a freaking bargain--plus there's a student discount available. There's an overview of Scrivener in this post on becoming a better writer, and the YA writer Justine Larbalestier recently blogged about writing her hit novel Liar with Scrivener, and she hits most of the high points. Here's her testimonial:
Scrivener made outlining unnecessary. It allowed me to see the structure as it emerged from the various pieces I was writing. I have no idea how I would have kept track of everything without software that’s designed to allow you to manage such a big and complicated text as a novel.
It has both changed how I write as well as what I’m able to write. Scivener has been a revelation.
More from me later on the specifics of my process with Scrivener. This will be after I figure out that process myself.