Scrivener Tips and Tricks For Dummies

The Bluestocking

Bloody Mary in Blue
Joined
Feb 20, 2014
Messages
1,440
Location
The Afterlife
Since the excellent Scrivener deal I had posted about a week ago had such a good reception, I've been inspired by @Phyrebrat and @allmywires to set up this thread.

I'm a newbie at using Scrivener, so are a bunch of Chronners (e.g. @Vaz @millymollymo and @DG Jones) who had just bought the programme via the deal. Therefore, if anyone - *cough* @Phyrebrat *coughcough* - who has been using Scrivener for a while have any tips, tricks, videos, or wisdom to share about making the most out of this neat little writing programme, please do share it here.

Pretty please? :)
 

allmywires

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
1,672
Location
London
Great idea!

I have one question for the Scrivener pros - when copying in my WIP I kept the old formatting from word, but now I like the Scrivener default format and want to change it back. Is there a way of easily copying + pasting formats (like the paintbrush in word) so I can get these all nicely uniform?
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
2,610
If you're copying into Scrivener, if you right click, it should offer you paste and match style - ctrl + shift + v works too.
 

Gonk the Insane

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
871
Location
Cambridge, England
I'm relatively new to Scrivener, but...

Getting Started:

I would recommend the "Interactive Tutorial" project. It took me a while to go through (about 45 minutes or thereabouts) but I found it gave a good introduction to the main features.

Scrivener's Manual, although a little on the long side, contains a lot of useful information. I did the Interactive Tutorial, which helped me master basic operation. If I need to check something in particular (e.g. where the heck do I find the option to...?) the manual is normally my first port of call.
 
Last edited:

Gonk the Insane

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
871
Location
Cambridge, England
Project Templates:

Scrivener comes with several standardised templates. There's one for a novel, one for a novel split into parts, and several others to choose from. Once you're familiar with Scrivener though you might find that you're making the same changes to every new project you begin from your chosen template (e.g. changing the author name* to your chosen pen name, or importing template sheets).

You can, however, customise an existing project template or create a new one to suit your needs. If you use things like character bios/questionnaires you can have these already set up in your project template, and thus save yourself a bit of time rather than importing them for every new project.

For mine, I adapted the "Novel with Parts" project (I guessed it was easier to remove parts than add them in later) and then saved it as my own template. Once saved, your very own awesome manuscript template will appear as an option when creating a new project:
upload_2016-4-16_18-17-19.png


*Scrivener uses things like the project's saved author name and project title when, for example, compiling your project as a kindle e-book. You can, of course, change them at any time.
 

Gonk the Insane

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
871
Location
Cambridge, England
Default Project Settings:

As mentioned in my previous post, Scrivener (at least the Windows version I use) has some standard "front matter" layouts for e-books, MSS format, and paperbacks. The standard ones (you can alter them if you wish) reference project properties like author name:
upload_2016-4-16_18-26-43.png


You could just overtype the variables (denoted by $ in front of them) with whatever the heck you like. But if you prefer to use what's already there then you might want to go ahead and change those values. I'm always forgetting how to get to that part :confused:so:

On the "Project" menu, select "Meta-Data Settings". Click on the "Project Properties" tab and you'll see the project title, author name etc. Values in grey denote what Scrivener thinks they should be. You can replace any of them (the text will appear black once changed from the default).
upload_2016-4-16_18-35-39.png

When you go to compile your project into an ebook etc those values will be carried across, replacing each instance of $fullname etc.
 

Gonk the Insane

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
Messages
871
Location
Cambridge, England
The Basics - Say Goodbye to a Single Document:

Okay, so I should probably have led with this one (sorry about that folks:oops:), but if like me you're used to Word then switching to Scrivener will probably take a bit of getting used to. It's a different way of working, complete with different terminology specific to Scrivener. So...

You're about to start your next novel and you've decided on Scrivener. In Word you'd start a new document, maybe even from a template. In Scrivener, you'll start a new project. A project is a container for everything: here's where you'll do your writing, but you can also include much, much more: research (text and/or images), character sheets, cast lists, layouts for your e-book/manuscript/paperback. This is one of the great strengths of Scrivener: you don't have to switch between your manuscript and other supporting docs. It's all in one place and you can happily click between viewing any of them. You can also have a split window. For example, you can have your manuscript up top, and a character sheet, plot notes, or anything else you like in the lower pane.

You'll find the split screen options in the upper right section of the screen:
upload_2016-4-17_14-4-35.png


You can split the screen horizontally or vertically.

Can I say Hello Again to a Single Document?
If your editor/agent/beta reader/guy you met in the pub doesn't have Scrivener then don't panic - you can export ("compile" in Scrivener terminology) your project (or parts of it if you prefer) to a variety of formats, including Microsoft Word. So you can generate a manuscript without all your notes/research.:)
 

Dozmonic

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2008
Messages
901
Location
Brizzle
First, enable the inspector. It's the blue/white i in Gonk's picture above. This let's you assign labels to folders/files, and record document notes.

Next: F5, F6, F7, F8 - let there be colour

Your binder, index cards etc will now show the colour labels you assign to folders and documents. If you classify scenes as you go along, this helps for quick identification of what's happening in your novel as a whole. If you assign label depending on the POV character, are you giving too much/too little POV time to a certain character? If you assign depending on whether you're writing a scene/sequel, are you breaking the pattern too much, having too many action scenes and too few sequels? This will be visible at a glance.

The document notes in the inspector I've found are best used for revision. I'll jot a rough idea of what I want to have happen in a scene on the front of an index card. Write the scene out in the index card and mark down my thoughts for revision in the document notes.
 
Joined
Jun 24, 2015
Messages
20
Location
Ontario, Canada
If you switch computers a lot and customize your templates they can be hard to carry around (Scrivener isn't the most portable software unfortunately) A quick way to avoid this is to save the template as a straight project (called "template" or some such on your flash drive. Then when you start a new one, open that and do a "save as."
 

Phyrebrat

ba-Ba-ba-brat
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
4,617
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Since the excellent Scrivener deal I had posted about a week ago had such a good reception, I've been inspired by @Phyrebrat and @allmywires to set up this thread.

I'm a newbie at using Scrivener, so are a bunch of Chronners (e.g. @Vaz @millymollymo and @DG Jones) who had just bought the programme via the deal. Therefore, if anyone - *cough* @Phyrebrat *coughcough* - who has been using Scrivener for a while have any tips, tricks, videos, or wisdom to share about making the most out of this neat little writing programme, please do share it here.

Pretty please? :)
Sorry. I just noticed this thread; I don't get notified if I'm tagged in a thread, and this time of year is busy for me so I've been running all over the place.

I'll have a think and post a bit later in the week :)

pH
 

Phyrebrat

ba-Ba-ba-brat
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
4,617
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
POV and Scenes
I like to colour code my POVs. In the attached file from a stalled WIP, Grace's is red, Zep's purple, and Kem's is blue. It gives you an at-a-glance of whose POV you're favouring or neglecting, and also a rather obvious reminder of whose you should be staying in.

I've multi-selected Grace's POVs and clicked on the corkboard icon. It lists all the index cards that represent various scenes. I'm not a planner-planner, but I like to know where things are going. This way I can set up scene cards and in the corkboard view put a few lines of description of what has to happen in that scene, or just give it a name that jogs my memory. They can also be dragged around to re-order their position. Of course, you can do this with all cards - which are just the small representations of the main text file that you've typed* - not just Grace's POV, so I can re-order scenes on the fly. (Just in this example I wanted to show you how you can multi-select one person's POV.)

*So, If I double-click the card that is titled Riddle in the park, it will open that scene as I've typed it.

It's what I love about Scrivener; it's like having physical things in front of you that you can order and reorder, without coming out of a project, as everything is bundled together.

Re Wiki/Worldbuilding
One of the most powerful things you can do with Scrivener if you're working on a Wiki or building a huge world, is link any of your typed text to a file or page either online or in your Scrivener research folder/bundle/etc and when you click on it in typing mode, it will open that link. In my WIPs I use this for maps and pictures of things when I need to remember what they look like. In Corn Dolly, which is set around Avebury and Silbury HIll, West Kennet and Fyfield, I have screen capped Google Earth images and linked them to the folders set in those areas so that when I'm working in that geographical area of the story, I can click on the link and see the overhead view of wheatfields and roads and lay-bys and all of that razzmatazz to add a level of realism to my descriptions.
Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 22.06.07.png
pH
 

allmywires

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
1,672
Location
London
Wow. Definitely checking that out later!

Me, I'm just enjoying the speech function and having a robot man read my scenes back to me. Both amusing, weird, and actually quite helpful despite the lack of tone of voice - helps spot when sentences are running on too long, etc.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Vaz

Dan Jones

Free Omar!
Supporter
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Messages
2,840
Location
Here, Now
A question for Ph, Bluestocking and all you other Scrivener wizs:

How do you switch off normal capitalised sentence structure?

for example how do i adjust the setting so i just write in lower case? can this be done?
 

Kith

Chronic Lurker
Joined
Jun 19, 2008
Messages
117
@DG Jones - To adjust auto capitalisation, you can also go to: Tools>Options>Corrections, where you'll find check boxes for "Fix capitalisation of sentences" and "Capitalise "i""

One of my favourite scrivener tools is the ability to make collections, which is quite simply a saved grouping of text files, but so handy to be able to do!

Next to your binder icon you have an icon called collections. Click on this and it slightly adjusts the binder along the left hand side of the screen (where you would usually see the folders/text files/layout of your project). This is where you'll be able to view collections once you've created them, but for now the only additional tabs you'll have are "-binder-" (which is actually just the tab for the binder view you're already in) and "search results" (more on that in a second).

At the top of the binder you'll also now see the word collections with a little + and - sign next to it. Tap the + to create a new collection. Call it whatever. I like to use it to group POV scenes and name each collection after the specific POV character, but you could also use it to group scenes that deal with a subplot - or whatever you choose.

Adding a collection puts an additional tab above your binder with the name of the collection, and clicking on it lists the text files you have added to it in the order you have put them in. You can move back to the binder view by clicking the binder tab. If you don't want to see your collection tabs at all, just click the collections icon again and you'll return to the default binder view (which you can also get rid of by clicking the binder icon).

To add text files to a collection, return to your binder. Right click on the text file you want to include, and select "add to collection." It will give you the option of any collections you've already made, as well as the option to create a new one.

You can assign colours to collections (so you can coordinate them with other colour coding features - for example, my character collections are coloured the same as their POV colours in the inspector).

Scenes within a collection can be placed in any reading order without disturbing their actual order within the manuscript (which might be especially useful in a story that jumps about in time or has numerous non sequential scenes or flashbacks).

Deleting a collection does not delete or change anything within the manuscript.

Back to the search results collection tab. This will show the contents of the last search you did (the search function is at the top right of the screen). You've got several search options (including text, titles and any meta-data you've set). Depending on how organised your project is, it's another great way of quickly finding and grouping scenes. For example, I have POV set as part of my meta-data, so doing a POV search of a character's name will bring up all the POV text files for that character. I can then highlight all the files and quickly transfer them to a collection for future reference.
 

gdoc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2014
Messages
148
Top tip if using the Mac version: avoid the Preferences. It looks like it was designed by a six year old on LSD. Utterly baffling and a masterclass in poor design. I just kept every default and adapted.
 

SleepyDormouse

dreaming away....
Joined
Jan 10, 2011
Messages
239
I've been using scrivener over a year and didn't realise it had a speech option! I even downloaded a separate app to do that for me.

From reading through the above I realise there is lots of scrivener I don't make use of.
 

gdoc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2014
Messages
148
I've been using scrivener over a year and didn't realise it had a speech option! I even downloaded a separate app to do that for me.

From reading through the above I realise there is lots of scrivener I don't make use of.
A common lament. I use it almost exclusively for its ability to enable writing in chunks and then compiling into a single doc.

Did you know it has a character name generator? It is quite good. Buried within a menu of course.

And that is really Scrivener's weak point. There are numerous calls on their forms to simplify and especially to enable users to use phones and tablets. Alas Scrivener is very much a desktop app and is falling behind the times. I use its sync function, but I'm bracing myself for a more nimble competitor to come in and offer an app that lets me write in chunks but jettisons the plethora of options I never use.

My ideal is to retain the chunking and compiling, and to apply stylesheets for fonts etc. Basic spell checking too and some limited text manipulation like enforce typographer quotes. But beyond that it is a bloated mess.

Out of interest, does anyone use the corkboard or other organisational elements? I never do as they seem like too much hassle. But I could see them being useful.
 
Top