Blog, Writing

3 Top Tips For Writing With Scrivener

fountain-pen-447575_1920Scrivener is a word processing package—but it can do more than that. You can use it as a project management tool for your writing. Its developers, Literature and Latte, created Scrivener as a hub.  Open your Scrivener project, and you’re presented with separate areas for creating your manuscript, and storage for all your research, ideas, images and metadata. Everything is to hand while you’re writing.  Once your book is finished, Scrivener can convert it into all sorts of forms. This includes compiling your work ready for publishing online. It’s how I created my short romantic comedy, My Dream Guy.

The Scrivener system is so organised it can come as a bit of a shock to butterfly minds like mine, but now I’ve been working with Scrivener for a while I use it for most of my fiction, and almost all of my non-fiction work. Here are my three top tips:

1. Try before you buy. There’s a free trial facility available from Literature and Latte to get you started. You can take thirty days to become familiar with the whole Scrivener experience before you decide if it’s the system for you.  Experiment with all the forms of compilation. Create different types of document for publication, or upload. Customise the system with the fonts, sizing and formatting you use for your manuscripts (Times New Roman 12-point is a good place to start).  It’s a great feeling to open a new project and start typing straight away, without having to worry about setting everything up from scratch. 

Find Out More at My Dream Guy

2. Don’t start with Scrivener if you’re working to a deadline. When I was writing My Dream Guy,  I created the first draft in a single document on my usual system (Pages for Mac) then imported it into Scrivener for publishing. To do this, instead of giving each chapter a title, I put a hashtag (#) at the end of each one instead. This formed a section break.  When I imported my completed manuscript into Scrivener, the system automatically created a new file for each chapter.  Then after editing my work in Scrivener, all I had to do to format it ready for publication was hit Scrivener’s “compile” button. Instantly, it became a ready-formatted manuscript, ready to publish.

3. RTFM—Read The Flaming* Manual. Scrivener gives you the option to do this, each time you open the package. Interactive and video tutorials are provided as well, in case you’re the type of person who needs to see things being done, rather than simply reading how-to manuals. If you need more help, Scrivener For Dummies, written by Gwen Hernandez is an invaluable book. When I started out, the only problem I had with this book was the same one I have with every other trouble-shooting system for computing. You need to know the exact questions to ask the index, and the terms to use. Tinkering (see Tip 1, above) and then looking up the effect I achieved in the index of this book got me there in the end. I’ve covered my own copy of Scrivener For Dummies with notes (and the two vital components of my writing life, tea and cake). Gwen Hernandez also has loads of useful tips in her online  Scrivener Corner (and you don’t have to peer past cake crumbs to see them). 

Have you tried working with Scrivener? What’s your favourite tip?

* other words beginning with F are available…

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