Take Control of Scrivener 2 by Kirk McElhearn

scrivener.gifWhen I saw that there was a Take Con­trol book avail­able for Scrivener 2 I was excited to see if it could help me use Scrivener more effect­ively. I bought Scrivener back in 2005/6 in des­par­ate hope that it would help me take con­trol of my own dis­prate thougths and work on my doc­toral thesis. I found it help­ful to start to get a grasp but was not able to really put it to the ulti­mate use. I col­lec­ted ref­er­ence mater­ial and built an outline.

I com­pleted ran­dom short art­icles and messed about, but I have since wanted to really put Scrivener to the test. I upgraded to ver­sion 2 in the last year when I had the chance — the hope still to tame Scivener and make it work for me…

And then along comes this new Take Con­trol volume. I must be the tar­get for just such a book. I dug in greedily.


One of the first things that strikes you is that the text is very hyper­tex­tual and presen­ted in a rather ref­er­en­tial rather than lin­ear fash­ion. The book is full­some. It is strewn with nug­gets and within are all the bits and pieces you could want to ‘take con­trol’ of Scrivener. The chal­lenge that I think the author faces comes from the pro­gram itself…it is designed to be free­form and take what floats around n one’s cre­at­ive ether and to try to find a way to take it from a 3D (or maybe more vec­tored) dimen­sion and flat­ten it into a 2D struc­ture. This is a mon­ster chal­lenge and it is evid­ent in this book as well. If there is any cri­ti­cism to be made, it is the hyper­tex­tual nature of the book. The inten­tion of the book is to allow for a lin­ear approach, but this neces­sit­ates build­ing to detail and start­ing from a skeletal basis. As a res­ult there are fre­quent (too fre­quent) ref­er­ences to later chapters and sec­tions. Soe­t­imes this seems to get in the way. I think the inten­tion is to allow for abso­lute novices to use the book as aler­an­ing tool, but to also allow more advanced users to use it more as a ref­er­ence source or to focus on an area of spe­cific interest. Such a mul­ti­use calls for par­tic­u­larly skill­ful weav­ing of the nar­rat­ive. This is nearly com­prom­ised in the case of this book.

What this book takes to use and to really make it sing is the abil­ity to sit down with the pro­gram and the book and con­cen­trate with them both for an exten­ded period of time. Kirk McEl­hearn has com­mited to pro­du­cing a fine volume and this also demands a com­mit­ment on your part to appre­ci­ate it. I applaud the author for the struc­ture of this book. It is a very good. What do you see in the pro­gram –> let’s try and set up a frame­work to work with Scrivener –> Here’s how you can sys­tem­at­ic­ally do so –> here’s the other stuff you should know about Scrivener that might con­found your efforts –> Here’s how you trans­form what you have into what you need. Chapters start with good sum­mar­ies of where you are at, anec­dotes are sprinkled through­out. It’s all there and more.

Take Con­trol of Scrivener is an invalu­able source of inform­a­tion, des­pite my start­ing with a cri­ti­cism of the volume. There are few books to call upon for any extra-manual instruc­tion in Scrivener and the tips and tutorial in this volume are superb and much appre­ci­ated. I would recom­mend this book to any use of Scrivener for hon­ing nd per­fect­ing their usage of a power­ful writ­ing tool.


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