Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Turncoat Tool Time #1: The Story Bible and Scrivener

After posting the first Turncoat Dev Diary post yesterday, I received a number of questions from people about what software was featured in the screenshot of our Story Bible. The software we're using to write the Story Bible is Scrivener by Literature and Latte.

We looked around a little bit for apps designed specifically for game design, but nothing we found really jumped out at us as a good tool for what we needed. A few months ago, a program called Articy came out. If it had come out a year earlier and if it weren't Windows only, I might have taken a hard look at it. I'm not bashing Windows, it's just that I'm comfortable and therefor more productive when using a Mac.

But, I had used Scrivener quite a lot and it seemed like an awfully good fit for what we wanted to do, especially since we didn't completely know what we wanted to do. Scrivener is great at collecting and organizing research and it lets you write styled or unstyled text and then easily reorganize what you've written. One of the nicest feature for what we were doing turned out to be something called "Binders".

Binders allow you to organize a subset of your Scrivener project's files, sort of like virtual notebooks (hence the name). We have our big Turncoat project, but then we also have a binder called "Story Bible", which stores all the information about our universe and the characters, but none of our research or game-specific information. We have individual Binders for game concepts we came up with, but also have a binder called "Scripts", which contains all the scripts from all the various game ideas we came up with in order. Items can be in more than one binder and stay automatically in sync, so they're incredibly useful when you have a lot of information that might need to get presented in different ways at different times or to different people.

Scrivener is quite easily one my favorite pieces of software ever. It's like an IDE for writing. It doesn't matter what type of writing you do, either. Whether it's fiction, screenplays, academic theses, or something else altogether, Scrivener can make the process better. I always hated that I was never able to find a way to use Scrivener in Apress' publishing workflow without problems.

If you do any serious amount of writing, you should probably take a little time to check out Scrivener. It's got a bit of a learning curve, but the instructional videos are well done, and once you get over the learning curve, it's a huge help.

My only complaints about Scrivener is the fact that it doesn't have better collaboration tools, and that it can be a little tricky using it with source control. You have to make sure you never, ever commit when the program is open. Those are relatively minor quibbles, though, and I don't think I could write without Scrivener these days. Well, maybe I could, but I wouldn't want to.


Michael Yacavone said...

Not sure if you've seen this, but I noticed a "git-friendly" Scrivener starter-project on github:


From the Readme: "It has the benefit of strategically placed .gitignore files to prevent transient metadata from cluttering your git status view and being incorporated into revision history."

Shewmaker said...

There is a public community for people who use Scrivener on Google Plus. We have over 800 members. Because this is a public community, you can read the posts and comments even if you do not choose to join us.


Jeff LaMarche said...

Michael -

Thanks, I did not know about this. That'd be very helpful.


Thanks for the info!