Monday, 19 September 2016

Scrivener for iOS

Many of you will know that I’m a fan of the Scrivener writing software. (www.literatureandlattee.com) At the end of July they released a version of the software for iOS (Apple’s mobile operating system used on iPhones and iPads).

I’ll be honest. My immediate thought was, “Why would I want to write my novel on my phone, or my tablet?” I have a writing desk, with my desktop computer, and I also have a laptop, so I can write anywhere with that, if I want to. Both have the full version of Scrivener. I didn’t need it on my other devices.

But after watching the overview video (https://vimeo.com/175282215) I was smitten ;-). I downloaded it. (There’s also part of me that wanted to support the developer: the iOS app is £15, and the macOS/Windows version is only £35. And he’s also a writer - that’s how the app came into existence - and we writers need to support one another. For those of you who don’t know, the developer, Keith Blount, lives in Cornwall and creates most of the Apple version software himself, and uses a small team dotted all over the world to sort out the coding for the other versions. This is not some large conglomerate business here.)

As with any software, it’s usefulness is determined by how it makes life easier. I couldn’t see why I would want to write new stuff on my iPad. My laptop is light and portable enough. But since I’ve installed the software on my iPad (and iPhone) it has changed the way I work. I’m not using it to write new material. Instead I am using it to edit existing material. This is saving me time.

When it comes to editing, I found it useful to export my text from Scrivener into mobi format and then email it to my Kindle. Seeing the text on a different device, as opposed to a large computer monitor (or even a laptop one), seemed to make errors jump out at me a bit more. So if I wanted to edit the latest chapter of a book I’m working on, I would convert it to Kindle format and email it across. Then, usually in the evening, I would make myself comfortable, get out my Kindle and a notebook and pen, and start reading. Every time I spotted a mistake on the Kindle, I would jot it down in my notebook, with a view to updating the Scrivener file the following day when I was next sat at my desk. 

But all of this has changed. With Scrivener on my iPad I don’t need to move it to my Kindle. Reading it on my iPad is just like reading it on my Kindle. But what makes so much difference is that now, when I spot a mistake, I can make the correction right there and then, directly into my text, on my iPad. There’s no more jotting it down in a notebook first and then waiting until I open Scrivener on my desktop. Whatever changes I make to my text in Scrivener on my iPad are reflected on my desktop and laptop machines the next time I switch them on. (Your Scrivener files need to be stored on a Dropbox folder for this to work best.)

Originally, I didn’t think I would use Scrivener for iOS that much. But I do. I rarely write anything new directly into Scrivener on my iPad or iPhone. (But, who knows? That could change in the future.) But it has completely changed the way I edit my work at the end of the day.

I should also point out that you don’t need to use the desktop version to be able to make use of the iOS version. The iOS version is not far off the full desktop version - so if you enjoy writing on your iPad then check it out, because the iOS version is capable of exporting your text into Word, ePub, Kindle, PDF and other formats. There’s no reason why you can’t write a whole novel on it.

If you’re a Scrivener user and have iOS devices do check out the iOS app. You might not think you need it, but you might find it does help your writing process. (And, no. I’m not paid by the developer to say any of this. I really do like the software!)


Good luck.

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