I’ve fallen for Scrivener; we’re madly in love, and I appreciate how much it does to make my life better. While it sounds like sarcasm, it’s very much the reality at the moment. Having worked with several writing softwares, I think I’ve found the one that keeps my workflow flowing. It has ups and downs, but so far, the perks far outweigh any criticism I could have. So let me go through how I go about using Scrivener.

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It Makes Organization Easier

  • Multiple novels in one file. This is similar to the structure of most folder systems on the computer. You can see I can Suburban Zombie High in the Red Book and “The Reunion” in the Blue Book. These are two entirely different books that I now have the ability to store in one location. This makes my life easier as I’m not jumping between different documents. In a world that shares characters, locations, and reference items, I find it easiest to merge them into one location.
  • Split by chapter & by scene. I am currently working on my novel, and I find it extra helpful to be able to break up the scenes. This way I can know where my characters are at any given time. How often did I make them go to that place or have they been in one place too long? It makes their location visual which is extremely helpful for me.Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 12.42.39 PM
  • Index cards help visualize with the synopsis. When I’m working, I find I get caught up in the work and frequently need to revisit what happened earlier. I find rereading the chapter takes a while, and I don’t always obviously see what took place. Being able to write a synopsis for each chapter and see it visually makes this a breeze. By reading one or two sentences, I can figure out who was in a chapter, what took place, and where it happened. It prevents me from having to reread dozens of chapters (sometimes I would like to avoid when editing.)
  • You can categorize and label each section. I forget which chapters I worked on or what I did to them last. I don’t always edit in order of what I wrote. This allows me a simple way to click each chapter as, “Done” or “Needs Editing.” You can also group them by their status. These can be similar, or you can use labels for locations and status for what the status is of that chapter. They allow you to create custom labels so you can use it however you need it to work for you.
  • Keywords rock my world. I don’t know why, but as I’ve gotten into writing more novels, I care more about speed for simple things. When I want to find that scene a character was in, I can fly through keywords. It helps making searching much easier. I currently use it for my characters, but it could be combined with characters, scenes and so forth. This will help you figure out where your characters are geographically during the course of your novel!

Character Development

  • Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 1.02.31 PMYou can include photographs. I didn’t think I was asking for much. I wanted to have a character “sheet” and be able to attach a photo. It didn’t need to be big or detailed, just enough to jog my memory of what the character might look like. Scrivener offers that, and you can always add more photos in the resource section of the software.
  • You can customize your character templates. What do you want to include? Shoe size? Their lineage? Their vampire powers? You can create a template of your character needs and from then on, each of your sheets will have the necessary info on them. This helps if you have a specific set of needs, what better way than to tailor it to you?
  • Show all your characters for your series. I’m currently working with a three book series, and I want to keep track of my characters. I have the “living” pile, the “dead” pile, and piles for characters specific to only one book. Otherwise, this helps me remember who is still in the story. While this might seem outlandish, I have difficulty with remember six characters and I’m nearly up to thirty at this point. I sometimes forget what I had for breakfast.

Next post I’ll talk about how I’ve set up redundant saving and more about the actual writing component of Scrivener. While it has all these “writerly” features, you still need to be able to bang out your word count if you’re going to finish that novel.