How I Scrivener

I wrote a post about Scrivener a few years ago, but as I am working in Scrivener now, there are couple new tools I am using a LOT, so I want to share them with you!

First off, if you don’t kow what Scrivener is, it is a writing program that is perfect for all kinds of storytellers! I use it primarily for writing novels, but I also use it for formatting and editing the musicals I write with my husband (which we write together in GoogleDocs first and then I transfer to Scrivener).

It is basically a binder for everything and anything related to your novel! You can have links, pictures, folders and subfolders for worldbuilding and characters, and, of course, your manuscript! It has great options for editing, formatting, and exporting your manuscript, and it also allows you to import templates from writer resources (such as my favorite outline by K. M. Weiland).

In my previous post, I shared about the binder and notecards, meta-data, status labels, keywords, and full-screen mode.

Today I’m going to talk about my new favorite tools: split screen, project targets, and the dictionary shortcut.

Split Screen in action, featuring snippets from my current WIP.

Split Screen Mode is entered by clicking the little square on the upper right hand of the currently opened file. Then, you can select either the left or right screen and open a different scene or file from the binder to view it.

In my current WIP, my main character, Roxana, can read minds, and she will often recall things that other people have thought or said. Split screen mode is so helpful for accurately recalling words and moments with ease. It also helps a lot with continuity when I am checking how I described a setting or someone’s appearance without having to scroll all around in a document or even click between scenes. I can see them both at the same time.

My current project almost always has two scenes open at one time as I reference between them, and it has been invaluable for this story especially.

Project Targets is found under “Project” on the toolbar.

Another tool that I can discover and has been a great encouragement as been the Project Tracker, which I use to track my word count, both overall and each day. You can change your target number of words by clicking the second number and changing it. It will save your overall manuscript progress even if you close the window (which can be moved around) but your session target will automatically reset each day.

One thing you have to do to use this tool effectively is to make sure only your manuscript scenes are “included in the compile”, as this is what Scrivener uses to calcuate your total written words. You can change whether or not a scene (file) is included in your manuscript by going to the middle tab (General Meta-Data) in the Inspector window.

I didn’t want to use “fraternize” twice, so I looked up some synonyms!

The final tool I have been using a lot is the Dictionary/Thesaurus shortcut! When you write click on a word, go to “Writing Tools” and you can look up the word in the Dictionary and Thesaurus right from Scrivener! This has become such a great trick when I’m in the writing zone and need a different word, because I don’t have to pull up a internet browser and go to the thesaurus website or Google and now I’m distracted! This shortcut keeps me engaged with my story and finding that new word quickly by cutting out the middle man, so to speak.

You can also open the word in Google or Wikipedia too if you are looking for more information on something, which has also been a fun little way to research.

Learning and Growing

For my birthday back in November, I received two new non-ficiton books. I have been steadily working my way through them, not wanting to rush through the treasure trove of information. Thinking back, taking my time and pacing myself in learning is something that I’ve always done.

Gail Carson Levine was my favorite author growing up, and a huge inspiration for me even to this day. Her two non-fiction books on writing, Writing Magic and Writer to Writer, are well-used and worn on my bookshelf from my days as a young writer. Each chapter ends with writing exercises, so it forces you to stop reading and do some writing. I usually didn’t go back and zoom through the book right away because after doing the little writing exercise, I just wanted to write more! The next day or later than week, I would go back and read some more, which would grow me and spur me on towards more writing.

Fast-forward to last year, when I found Brandon Sanderson’s 318R class lectures. After the first video, I was hooked. My desire to learn and grow as a writer had been revived. I probably could have watch all of them in one day if I hadn’t restrained myself. Instead, I watched one class a day, pausing to take meticulous notes, and often going over my notes a few times that day and trying to apply it to my story ideas. Rather than rushing through it in a couple days, it took me a couple weeks, but the time to soak in each lesson really helped his methods and tips to stick with me.

After the class ended, I began to seek out more materials on fiction writing. I knew I had a lot of room to grow as an author, and I knew the #1 way to grow was by writing and finishing novels, but I had been neglating the learning side of things. My hunger to learn had been realized. Sanderson mentions Orson Scott Card a lot in the class, and, Card being one of my favorite authors, that gave me some direction on where to start.Read More »