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Using Scrivener for IF

Scrivener Z-Machine

Although I managed to get my game The Z-Machine Matter to a intro-level prototype stage a while back, I realized I needed to take a different approach for the next stage of implementation.  I realized I need to take a step back from the mechanics and programming and focus more on the characters and story.  Maybe better IF writers can mix and match plot and character development while coding in Inform7, but I found I needed to get out of programming mode in order to focus on the story.

The Z-Machine Matter is an old-school murder mystery --an homage to Infocom's "Witness" and "Deadline" among others.  The classic "cozy" murder mystery has more structure to it than the average novel and for that reason, I believe it lends itself quite nicely to IF.  To make the story work, you've got to haveclear motives for each of the characters, the requisite means & opportunity, evidence, alibis, clues and, of course, a few red herrings to keep the reader guessing.  Scrivener makes it easy to define templates that encourage a consistency and thoroughness when you define characters, locations, puzzles and so on.  The templates are flexible though, so you're not locked into them. 

Although there's nothing I've written using Scrivener that couldn't be written with Microsoft Word or even a generic text editor, I have found that Scrivener's structured approach and tools lend itself to what is needed in defining the key characters, puzzles that are so important in IF.  While it's relatively easy to get started with Scrivener, there's a richness (and complexity) to it with plenty of menus, submenus, obscure icons and advanced features.  The good news is, you can safely ignore most of these bells & whistles and just focus on the things that matter in your story.

Scrivener is available for Mac and Windows for $45 with an iPad version in development.  However, I found the tutorial to be overly quirky and completely inadequate.  So I highly recommend the eBook Writing a Novel with Scrivener by David Hewson which can give you an easier introduction to writing a complex work of fiction with Scrivener for just another $6.  Hewson also makes available a free Scrivener template for novel writing which is a good starting point for creating your own template for Interactive Fiction.

If you've used Scrivener or other tools for writing IF, please let me know your thoughts by adding a comment below.


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On Google+ there is a Scrivener User community. We have over 100 members.

It is a Public community. If you are interested, you do not have to join the community in order to read the community page.

Here is the link: https://plus.google.com/communities/109597039874015233580

This is going to be very useful for me thank you very much for posting

These days, you'd be better off with Gargoyle rtaehr than Frotz. I'm not sure if it's in the APT repos for the Raspberry PI's Debian repo (it's not in Arch Linux ARM), but if it is, it's *very* much worth it as it can play not only Z-code games, but glk and virtually all of the other major IF formats.

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