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Evernote + Scrivener to write a book?

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Posted by Hugh
Oct 13, 2011 at 07:29 PM


Here are one and a half suggestions.

A half suggestion: my experience is with Scrivener for the Mac, which has a very useful tutorial that takes an hour or so to absorb. After that, the manual, which, as you say, is quite hefty, becomes simply a reference work. If the 1.0 release of Scrivener for Windows has a similar tutorial, I’d focus my efforts on that. Read only the bits of the manual that you need to, as you use the application.

A full suggestion, if I’m correct in thinking that you’re writing a non-fiction book? (The same principles could apply to a novel if it has a factual basis, but obviously to a much lesser extent.) An article by the historian and author Steven Berlin Johnson laid out the following procedure for outlining then writing a non-fiction book, using the Mac software DevonThink. You could just as easily use the method with Evernote and Scrivener.

1. Put together your outline however you like to do this. (Like all plans and outlines, you make it to change it, but it’s still very useful to have.)

2. Lay out this outline, complete with chapters, and, if required, shorter sections, in Scrivener’s Draft folder (Scrivener is ideal for writing and manipulating short chunky sections).

3. Replicate the outline into Scrivener’s Research folder.

4. Pull across the key pieces of your research into the chapters and sections in the Research folder, in the order in which your outline requires.

5. Type up your manuscript in the Draft folder, using the twin-pane feature in the Scrivener Editor to keep your research outline and its documents alongside.

I hope this helps.

A couple of other thoughts: a very large load of research documents will slow Scrivener down, so you’re right to keep your main research “library” in something like Evernote, just bringing across the key pieces to Scrivener. And, I’ve never tried importing large numbers of research papers into Scrivener in one go. No reason to think it won’t take them. But I’d experiment first.