October 26, 2010


Richard Sheehan

As a Scrivener user for the past three years, I agree 100% with your comments, Mark. It really is excellent.

jackie corley

agreed. scrivener is a wonderful tool.


Stop teasing the software geek in me. Stop it.


I'm a huge Scriv fan. The only complaints are that its formatting functions are less user-friendly. (line-spacing, font control, etc. are hard to find and badly organized compared to word)

Susan Messer

Thanks for this recommendation, Mark. I'm going to take a look. And I don't expect you to act as tech support, but if a novel is already well in progress in Word, can all those Word docs be imported into Scrivener with relatively little muss and/or fuss or loss?


I'm become a massive fan of Scrivener over the last 2 years and I'm loving the much anticipated 2.0.

nick: You'll find the formatting functions are now much easier to find in the new version.


Does its spell checker have a cliche-flagging functionality as well?

John Verity

Another great app for serious writing, as opposed to the text processing and desktop publishing that things like Word are designed for, is Ulysses, from a German outfit called The Soulmen. Mac-only, as far as I know, but so clean, and way smart and powerful.

Jim H.


I, too, have been using Scriv to work on my latest. It replaces—adequately, I might add—the wonderful and indispensable outlining function the old WordPerfect for Mac used to have.

To answer one of the commenter's questions: I imported my completed novel, EULOGY, into Scriv and actually learned a few things about it's organization and structure. It might even lead to another revision. Is that bad?

Jim H.

PS. It's great to see you back and posting more regularly, Mark. I've missed you.

Jake Seliger

Can you speak more to how you're using it? I've tried Scrivener and haven't really gotten used to it, despite the many accolades from others.

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe


    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."