I’m sometimes asked if writing screenplays has helped my novel or prose writing, and the answer is it has. It has improved my dialogue, but even more than that it has improved my ability to structure the narrative of a novel. As a result, I do a lot more moving of chapters in the writing process these days.
This creates an interesting challenge when you are taking a work where you move the chapters around and need to package it for a submission to an agent or publisher. In a lot of writing platforms, dynamically updating chapter numbers after these changes can’t be done.
The good news is that Scrivener allows you do to that, but I absolutely hate the Scrivener user experience and export functionality. Without fail, the document I export will have some issue with it or other. It’s not that Scrivener is bad software, it’s that it requires detailed understanding of the tool to make it work right, and I simply didn’t have the patience to figure all that out.
I tried Ulysses, which allows you to move chapters around easily via drag and drop, but Ulysses doesn’t provide any easy way to dynamically re-number chapters, making it unhelpful when putting together a submittable document.
Which brought me full circle to Microsoft Word. I never really saw Word as anything more than a word processor but in my frustration at the other options I looked at it more closely, and what do you know—there is an easy way to add chapter headings with one click. There’s an easy way to drag chapters and move them. And—amazingly—the chapter numbers dynamically update. I also have fallen in love with the Word styles palette.
It’s probably worth noting that I took a look at LibreOffice Writer, as well, and I was extremely impressed. That said, it didn’t have the all-in-one simplicity of Word.
So, after abandoning Word years ago, I am back and—in truth—loving it.