Plea to the Developer of Scrivener for Windows
I was recently asked by Eden Mabee, in a comment on my recent progress, what I was referring to when I said I had been disappointed to discover issues caused by missing features when compiling in Scrivener for Windows; features present in the Mac version which therefore doesn’t have those issues. As the answer would have been too long to include as a reply to her comment, I thought I would write a post to explain what I meant.
This is also, in effect, an appeal to the developer(s) of Scrivener because, when I went to the support forum under the ‘Scrivener for Windows’ section and looked at the ‘Wishlist’ thinking I would create a polite request to add the features in question, the ‘Before Posting’ note said “All features of the Mac version are planned for inclusion in the Windows version. We can’t provide any specific dates, but anything you see in the Mac version will be coming to the Windows version if it’s not there already. Therefore please do not post asking for features from the Mac to be made available for Windows.”
That stopped me in my tracks because I had been meaning to ask if there was a planned date for adding the features in question to the ‘Compile’ feature in Scrivener for Windows. I think two of those features are pretty fundamental for anyone compiling their project either to an ebook or to a print publication:
- the ability to keep centred text centred rather than having it move to the left margin in the compiled version
- the ability to have the first paragraph of a chapter or scene flush against the left margin (blocked) rather than having it indent itself in the compiled version
The editing mode shows both kinds of text correctly. The Mac version, I’ve discovered, has options in the ‘Compile’ feature to preserve centred text and to keep those initial paragraphs blocked rather than indented.
So I was very disappointed when I did a trial run recently as part of my final editing push (to use in a text-to-speech run-through) and discovered that these options do not exist in the Windows version. Therefore, it is necessary to compile the book in the epub format so that you can then manually hack the underlying HTML using a program such as Calibre or Sigil.
So there is a longwinded workround for the problems above for ebook, BUT I don’t know whether there is one for a print version, and I am going to want to do a POD of each novel. And I’ve heard from other Scrivener for Windows users that there’s a further issue affecting print books: it isn’t possible to have two different headers (or footers) to handle left and right hand pages. So, for example, the page number has to be in the same place on both, which would look daft.
So for me, Scrivener for Windows is not a complete solution. I thought originally I would be able to use it to produce finalised output for both ebooks and print layouts for CreateSpace, and it now appears that I’ll have to come up with a totally different method for POD. And whenever you have to maintain two different versions of the source ‘code’ like this, it opens up the possibility of errors as it is obviously very important to keep strict version control of the two versions to make sure they don’t get out of step.
I already have an issue with version control as all my books are currently in Microsoft Word, so I am having to copy them into Scrivener to split them up into chapters and scenes. I thought I would be able to copy the chapters in (I have a separate Word document for each chapter, as having worked with Word for a long time, I’m used to the way it used to corrupt long documents), and include physically typed scene separators, as I want scene separators between each scene in the ebook (in the print version, I would only have those where a scene break coincides with a page break).
Unfortunately, due to ‘Compile’ not preserving centred text, the typed separators all ended up against the left hand margin which looked stupid, so I took them out and had to split each chapter into scenes, then use the option in compile itself to add scene separators. I only did this for the first few chapters as a trial since this version is purely for editing purposes, but I’d have to do this for the whole book when it comes to producing the proper ebook.
As I have gone through the inbuilt text based training a few times without much of it sinking in, I bought a course on Udemy produced by Karen Prince which was very useful and also explained quite a few things that aren’t obvious in Scrivener’s own help, mainly to do with the levels when you compile a book. With regard to the missing features listed above, she recommends turning off the option during compilation to format any file containing e.g. centred text. (You do this by ticking ‘As is’ against that file.) When you do that, everything goes through to the compiled version as it was in your original: the compile facility doesn’t apply any reformatting.
The trouble is it also means that a) you have to completely format the text in the font etc you want to use in the ebook, which isn’t always the same as your editing environment, and b) you don’t get the automatically added table of contents links, and I don’t know how to overcome that manually. For me, to tick all the chapters to be ‘as is’ would cancel out half the point of putting the book into Scrivener in the first place. I have a huge ‘investment’ in Microsoft Word. I can see Scrivener being useful for a partly written book I have which switches around in time lines between different characters. I expect it will help a lot in working out what needs to go where in that novel. But for the books I’ve already written, I need Scrivener for the formatting process and it is letting me down on that.
Anyway, here’s hoping that these features make their way into the Windows version soon. There hasn’t been an update since last October, but I understand that they are currently working on a version 3 which may or may not have the Mac features in it. I just don’t know how long we have to wait…..