Editing Butterfly in Scrivener, Part 1

Most of the posts you’ve seen in this blog so far are replications of earlier posts from my former blog and/or personal website. There will be more of those, but this post is current (3-31-2021), and marks the start of a once every other week posting in the blog. I’m at a crucial stage in the final edits for the books, and I need to devote a great deal of time to that.

I wanted to let you have a little glimpse at how I’m using the software program Scrivener to finish editing If a Butterfly, but first a little history. Up until mid-2014, I wrote and edited my first drafts in Microsoft Word. I had been experimenting with Scrivener for a while at that point, maybe a year or so, but hadn’t actually used it on one of my books. When I decided to publish my novel, The Jagged Man, as an ebook, I had already figured out that Scrivener could do that for me. I dumped the completely edited (with MS Word) manuscript into Scrivener, sorted it into chapters and compiled it as an ebook. Over the next few years I played with Scrivener, and even used it to draft parts of a novel during some NaNoWriMo write-ins in 2018 and 2019, but I always copied those back into Word to finish editing the novel.

In 2020, though, as I was wrapping up my work on my non-fiction book, Aggravated, I decided to finish editing it in Scrivener, and I’m glad I did. The experience was so good I’ve decided to edit everything in Scrivener from now on (and I’ll probably start writing the first drafts for everything new as well). That isn’t to say there weren’t problems, but they weren’t with Scrivener. For legal reasons, I had to keep copies of the entire manuscript in four different files (one in Word using the real names of every person, place and thing in Aggravated, then in three identically-worded files using the pseudonyms for all those same items in Scrivener, in Word, and in Adobe InDesign). When I made edits in one of them, I had to make edits in the other three. I’ll tell that story in full, including the reasons why I had to do it that way, on the Aggravated blog. I’ll add a link to the blog post here, in case you’re interested, once I’ve uploaded it.

I won’t have that problem with Butterfly, though. I don’t have to keep extra copies of it, and (because of the number of drafts it’s already been through) these two novels are in better shape than any other book I’ve finished. What I’ll be doing over the next couple of months is polishing the prose and conducting continuous checks for errors. I’ll be editing them one book at a time, finishing Chrysalis before I start on Emergence. I will, though, once every few days, compile a Word copy of the Scrivener version as a backup, and will, of course, be doing multiple backups of all of the versions on external hard drives. After both books are done in Scrivener, I’ll export the text into Adobe InDesign to finish the layout of the books for print.

In the next post I’ll cover some specifics about how I’m using Scrivener to edit this series.

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