I’ve been using scrivener to edit my Novel for a week or so now (or maybe it has been longer). It has proved itself useful because it presents a simple and easily understood system for understanding the structure of your novel.
First it offers you the ability to take the 200+ pages of brain-gush and chop and slice it into something approaching “scenes”. Film is one of the most readily available examples of modular content in popular culture, and as such Scivener allows you to break a novel into these easily understood parts. These tasty snippets of goodness allow you to look at your wretched creation as not just a month long #NaNoWriMo finger-spasm (although it is) but as a series of pieces in a game, like chess for example:
When we play Chess we don’t think about how the pieces look or what the board looks like - we also don’t look at the board as a linear set of actions taken on a whim. Instead we see every piece as having a phantom future in front of it, and we see it all at once. Invisible lines cast by the shadow of the bishop mix with the 4 spots where “The Horsey” (as I believe it is known) can make it’s seemingly erratic movements. This sense of setting up certain space for the enemy to fall into to be trapped, or to act as deterrent fits well with editing a novel.
I can now see all my pieces on the board (except, it isn’t a chess board, it is a map of Northern Europe and I’ve got a long stick to move all the pieces about. Also: I probably have a cool Kitchener moustache) and I am ready to gather parts together, make changes to the structure of the novel. Scrivener allows you to organize your modules (nuggets, slices, snippets) into Hierarchies in exactly the same way you organise a web-page or your documents on your computer. This mind model is so familiar to us it becomes a breeze to move labeled parts of your narrative about and see - like you can looking at the chess board - how all the movements fall into place, which pieces offer protection to others and which are at risk.
In short Scrivener has made me feel in control of my novel for the first time in a month! And surely that can’t be a bad thing?