Twice a year, I sit on the living room floor, surrounded by print-outs of poems, short stories and essays. It's part of my job at the editor of a literary magazine. Once our short list of selections for Little Patuxent Review are made, this is how I order--and reorder--each issue, until I'm happy with the journal's flow.
|My intrepid helper, Sam, peruses the Winter 2013 issue of LPR.
Scrivener: I'm a Believer
I confess I thought writer's software packages were just flashy toys. Having started my writing career using a typewriter, the ability to copy and paste still seemed like a luxury, and I couldn't imagine wanting more than word processing software. However, trying to restructure my WIP for nth time, I kept getting lost in my large file. I needed a map. I needed to see the whole thing at a glance. I needed, as I was informed by several trusted writing friends, Scrivener.
|Scrivener is writing software for Mac and Windows.
In Scrivener, the center of the screen is the Editor in which you type or past text just as in any word processing software. On the left you can elect to show the Binder, which is an outline view of your document. You can create folders within folders to reflect your desired structure and fill them with separate chunks of text. The chunks act as virtual index cards on the folder's cork board, which appears in the Editor when you click on a folder. Then you rearrange the chunks by dragging and dropping the index card on the cork board or the title in the Binder. When you click on a chunk, you see the text in the Editor.
|Scrivener screen capture from Spellbound Scribes.
Scrivener automates my old process of laying out index cards on the carpet. I imported my existing file, separated each poem into its own chunk, and created a hierarchy of sections. Moving poems and whole sections around so easily made me positively giddy--I had to force myself to stop and export a portion of the manuscript to see how it looked when assembled.
Although you can construct your own project, Scrivener offers a poetry manuscript template. The customizable template sets up the front page and the header for the remaining pages. I decided to make each poem a separate chunk and created section folders in which to organize them. If you've ever put together a poetry collection, you know how much rearranging goes into getting just the right order. Scrivener makes it easy to move poems around, while the Binder gives you the map of the overall project.
|Scrivener screen capture from OrganizingCreativity.Com
You can also elect to show the Inspector, which appears on the right side of the screen. The Inspector lets you make notes about each card and select options for the way that text is included in the compiled document. For example, in the Inspector I selected to have each chunk--each poem--start on a new page.
Compiling is how you create the finished document, and represents a whole other level of value. You can compile your manuscript as a Word document, Rich Text (rtf), PDF or a number of other formats. You can even compile it as HTML. Best of all, you can compile it as an ebook in multiple formats: ePub, Kindle, iBooks. Zing! Hit one button and there's your ebook!
I've only just begun to explore Scrivener's features, but I'm already a convert.
I find the world too
Just give me
a table to write on
a little quiet
and a view of trees.
by Barbara Morrison
Posted with permission of the author
Barbara Morrison, who writes under the name B. Morrison, is the author of two poetry collections, Terrarium (2013) and Here at Least (2006), and a memoir, Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother. Her award-winning work has been published in anthologies and magazines. She conducts writing workshops and speaks on women's and poverty-related issues. She is also the owner of a small press and speaks about publishing and marketing. She has maintained her Monday Morning Books blog since 2006 and tweets regularly about poetry @bmorrison9. For more information, visit her website and blog at www.bmorrison.com.
|Available at Amazon.