L is for… (#AtoZChallenge 2012)

L is for Literature & Latte

(Post 12 on my WIP)

An image from their website

When I ‘won’ National Novel Writing Month in 2010 (for meeting my 50,000 word target) part of my prize was half price off Scrivener  software. I decided to buy my MacBook Pro precisely so I could make use of this (please note they now have a Windows version released too so you don’t need to switch to Apple – I’m so glad I did though).

Scrivener is described as a content-generation tool for writers of many kinds; novelists, academics and students, screenwriters and many others. This wonderful software has been developed by Literature & Latte, a small company from Truro, Cornwall in the UK. Wanting a way to manage his own long text writing, Keith developed a tool that collates your writing, notes and research in one place. An online Binder (a term used in the software) which is much easier to sort through than lots of sheets of paper.

Image taken from their website

Here is how I have used Scrivener so far but I appreciate that I still have a lot to learn. There is a tutorial project within Scrivener that would be beneficial to work through as well as a guide to Scrivener. There are a number of videos on You Tube and within the forums on the Literature & Latte website on how to use the different features too. I also recommend the Kindle book ‘Writing a Novel with Scrivener’ by David Hewson – for writers it helps you identify the features that will be the most useful to you.

Opening a Project from a Template
For My Novel

The Novel template comes in the following sections.
A guide to the template and how to use it (handy as a reminder).
The manuscript section which you split into chapter folders and have each scene as a page that you can drag and drop to rearrange the order as you’d like (this is very helpful when you don’t write in order).
The Character section where you can use a pre-made character sketch template (I hope to develop this further and create full background and personality sketches for my main characters)
The Places section where you can use a pre-made Setting sketch template (Helpful for consistency so you don’t suddenly have the kitchen coming straight off the hall if it didn’t three chapters ago).
The Front Matter section for different formatting (manuscript, e-book etc)  including front covers and dedication pages.
The Research section for adding in links to websites, random notes and scribblings and any other random research (I love that you can import PDFs – will be very useful for my PhD – I’ve also set up a section to collate feedback from my Beta-Readers that I’ll be able to use when re-drafting).
Template sheets (which I copied up into Characters and Places but I assume you can make your own and add here too – I need to look into this).
The Trash section where you can send anything you don’t want active in your project but it remains ready to restore if you change your mind (unless you empty the Trash and then it goes forever).

For Poetry
You can use the Poetry template to gather your poems – moving them round by theme etc ready to make into a collection for printing.

For Sriptwriting
Again a number of templates are provided from film script, to comic to radio play. This is the function I have the most to learn about because you can use it to automatically function different aspects of your script (dialogue, scene headers etc) using drop down lists but I haven’t fully got my head round it yet.

For My Research (PhD) and Academic Writing
There are a number of different non-fiction templates from essay writing to research proposal and I am using them to gather my research and writing together for my PhD as well as to start planning any papers I want to write.

For My Teaching
I used the basic template to develop a handbook for my unit which I was able to provide in PDF and Kindle formats from within Scrivener.

For Blogging
I just used the basic template and set up folders and pages as needed for different memes (such as the A-Z Challenge, my Harry Potter tour series). etc.

Key Features you may like (I do)
Each section or folder can be viewed as a corkboard with either record cards or images which makes it easy to get an overview of that particular selection and move things around (see image above).

Name Generator
Found under Edit – Writing Tools – if you are having a name blank Scrivener will conjure up a list of names to inspire you. I’ve not used it yet but can imagine it will be helpful for tertiary characters.

If you want to find every scene with a particular character mentioned you can and that search is saved above the Binder.

This means that you are able to view all of your separate documents (temporarily) as one continuous piece of text. They still remain where you put them originally.

Split screen
Want to be able to write a scene whilst referring to research you have gathered – no problem – just use the split screen mode which opens your research in either the top or bottom half of the screen, fully scrollable.

Decided the scene you are writing is too long – don’t worry about cutting and pasting you can split the document in two at a point decided by you. Only discovered this today.

Full screen
If you are anything like me you are easily distracted, but Scrivener has a full screen mode so you can just concentrate on what you are writing and fade everything else to black. You can still access formatting tools by clicking and selecting from the list that appears.

Want to make a huge edit of a scene but don’t want to have to copy or lose the original version (just in case) – use Snapshots which save the original version which allows you to compare and contrast and see which you prefer.

Writing a novel with shifting points of view? You can label each scene based on whose POV it is meant to be written in. You can also assign different colour labels to remind yourself if this is a scene/character etc etc – set up as many as you want (I think you might only be able to add one per scene though but I’m not sure).

Notes and Comments
You can add in footnotes, comments, overall project notes – in fact you can pretty much scribble what ever you like to help you keep track of what you need to do, change etc. Use the little record cards to write summaries/POV etc too.

Integration with Dropbox
I used Preferences to set all my Scrivener projects to save to Dropbox. An extra back up in the cloud and this means that with some mobile apps (I’ve not explored any yet) you can access the raw files and edit on the move. Now I’m looking forward to the development of their native iOS app (which is in progress) so I can work with a familiar set up on my iPad.

Project finished and ready to go? Scrivener allows you to Compile the document (selecting only the pages you want) to a number of different formats, such as Kindle, PDF, Word etc.

I’m not sure I’ve really done this excellent tool justice because there is so much that it can do and I just haven’t learnt it all yet. The price is so reasonable (much less than Office) and you can have a free trial so why not go for it and have a play.

I just found this case study on the website that might come in handy for me as I’m hoping this will be book one of a series.

Using Scrivener to Manage Serial Novels With Monica McCarty.

So who else out there uses Scrivener? If not, what do you use instead?
Any more Scrivener hints and tips that you’d like to share?

Posted on April 13, 2012, in #am writing (and all things writing related), April A-Z Challenge, Reviews, Training Time (WIP) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. The Golden Eagle

    I’ve never used Scrivener, though I’ve heard good things about it. Thanks for the rundown of the program!

    The Golden Eagle
    The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective

  2. Wow, this software sounds absolutely amazing. Especially now there’s a windows version (although that’s kinda destroyed my ipad excuse!!)

  3. I got it when the Windows version was released. I’ve barely scratched the surface. I use it to keep a month’s short fiction together and stay on track with submission dates but I have lots of plans for it.

  4. I bought a Macbook solely for Scrivener too, a few years back. I don’t regret it, it’s such a fantastic program.

    • What are we like ;o) If you have any handy Scrivener tips you’d like to share please do.

      • Probably nothing you haven’t already come across.
        I like being able to change the icons of sections down the side (I use them to indicate stuff in progress, because it’s more visible than their ‘stamp’ system on the corkboard), storing music as part of the project is nice, and I liked collecting related pictures but I think Pinterest has started to take over that function for me. (But I still have fun creating character bios with pictures in the side-bar. It’s the little things.)

      • The little things are the best. Must experiment more with the icons. Thanks for the tip.

  1. Pingback: N is for… (#AtoZChallenge 2012) « kirstyes

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