Learning Scrivener (Part 1)

scriveI’ve finished the first week of my six week course on Scrivener with Gwen Hernandez. The lessons have been comprehensive and hands-on. So far we’ve covered:

  • an overview,
  • how to work with documents,
  • folders
  • and binders.
  • how to use the synopsis window
  • and  general meta-data (all the non-text files).

I’m learning the bits and pieces well enough, but retaining them is another matter. lol. Proof that this old head leaks. I’ve had to go back to my notes and ask questions on-line a lot.

Do I like it?

So far, I’m still intrigued. I can see its potential, but I still have a lot to learn to feel comfortable with it. Even though I’ve started putting my new story into it, I’m also writing it in Word.


Has it changed my writing?

Yes, oddly enough it has, and I wasn’t expecting that.

The smallest unit of story is the scene, and scrivener helps you organize scenes. I usually think of my story in large chunks, specifically: Act 1, 2 and 3. But playing with this software has me focusing more on individual scenes, which is a good thing.

Click on the picture to get a clearer view.

So that’s my craft post for this week. What are you working on? Do you like Scrivener?

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

27 thoughts on “Learning Scrivener (Part 1)”

  1. Bravo Jo-Ann,

    Taking a course in order to unravel the mysteries of Scrivener seems to be a very smart way to go. To me, it has always looked so complex, so tackling it slowly is a very good idea.

    I know of some authors who embrace it wholeheartedly and others who discovered it didn’t work for them.

    As you noted, the focus on individual scenes is a great idea. I’ll be interested in hearing about your progress.


    1. Hi Jodie
      Thanks for stopping by. Part of me didn’t want to try Scrivener, because learning it appears to be a lot of work, but the old teacher sitting inside my head wouldn’t hear of that. “Got to try new things. Keep those grey cells active…,” she said with a nasty tone. I may pull out my hair.
      But then again, the refocus on scenes has already helped me. We shall see.


  2. I also started to learn Scrivener because when you write a series it makes it easy to pull up all the various character profiles and notes a person will need for each new book. Anyway that’s what I was told. Will let you know it works out that way LOL


  3. I took Gwen’s class about a year ago. I had an HP then. I’m old and figuring out something new is always hard for me. I started to play around with it and I liked it. Then my computer shot craps. I ended up buying a Mac, which I had to learn to use, because I never had one before. The two computers systems are very different. I should probably take a refresher coarse, only this time, as a Mac user. UGH! Thanks for sharing.



    1. Diane
      Ouch. Your computer story is painful. I can’t imagine trying to learn an apple system and implement Scrivener at the same time. Talk about climbing mountains.
      But then again – they say the view from the top is pretty spectacular.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.


      1. I bought my MacBook Pro because of Scrivener. (That and the fact that I would have had to buy a new PC anyway to upgrade to Windows 7, whose biggest feature seemed to be that it was more Mac-like.) There was no Scrivener for Windows then.

        I just used bare-bones features at first: index cards for scenes and writing the text in the editor. Since I tend to move scenes around a lot after the first draft, this really worked for me. Much better than cutting and pasting in Word.

        Then, about a year ago I took Gwen’s class. Wow! I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. I now keep character info in a Character folder and have imported web pages into a Research folder. Easy reference. Only I need a bigger monitor!

        The fact that Scrivener easily exports to epub, mobi, and doc formats was worth the purchase price to me. Totally error-free ebooks (well, at least from a formatting point of view) and I edited the doc format to create a PDF for CreateSpace. Easy-peasy.


      2. Welcome Elise
        Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation. I’m waiting for my “easy-peasy” moment. lol.
        The course is great.


  4. Hi Jo-Ann, I commend your bravery!! It’s taken me a few months to get Word figured out, still smacking my head on desk, not sure about Scrivener. I’ve read about authors who love it, so I looked into it and then turned away, lol


    1. Hi Jacquie
      I love the image of you smacking your head on your desk. I do that a lot too.
      The formatting in Word drives me around the bend and then some. It makes words where words don’t belong, moves text to places I don’t want it to go… I could go on at length about my volatile relationship with the beast.
      Naively, I thought maybe Scrivener would be easier to manage. We’ll see.
      No bruises on the head yet.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the conversation.
      Best Wishes


  5. Hi Jo-Ann, Just download a trial on Scrivener and have been running the tutorial. I also downloaded the trial on Writeway. I’m trying both to see if I like either. I do agree with you that the focus is on scene building in both. I just have to find time to work on and compare them.


  6. Hey, Jo-Ann. I so admire you doing this. There was just a line of post on the RWAPRO loop. Pretty much what you’ve heard here. Difficult to get through the leaning curve, but if you can make it there are dividends. People seem to either love it or hate it. Those who don’t care for it, appear to turn to WriteWay.
    I”m still old school, just write in a word doc. I do a file for the book with multiple folders in it. One is a chart for each chapter with the scenes noted with the action. I include page numbers & POV shifts on this chart.
    I’ll be interested to follow your journey.


    1. Hi Marsha
      That’s the second time I’ve heard of Writeway. Interesting.
      I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
      Your system’s working for you. Two books now published. I’d say that’s fantastic. It’s not always wise to tinker with something that already works.
      I on the other hand am looking for help with structuring stories. Scrivener may be the ticket.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


      1. I do think so much of this business is trial and error–figuring out what works for you in whatever area it is. No right or wrong, just different and what fits your learning/organizing style. I clicked on the page with the post its above and my eyeballs started whirling around. LOL I kid you not. too much stuff on a page and I can’t focus on whatever I need to see. Big problem for me when I was a principal. LOL Can’t wait to read your next report. Think of all the little dendrites that are getting rejuvenated as you go through this. 🙂


  7. Thanks for this post. I’ve had scrivener downloaded for several months and haven’t had the courage to tackle it. So busy as well marketing my book and following so many roads that I don’t have time to study the program, or perhaps I’m stalling! Many people love Scrivener, and if they can learn it, so can I. This makes me want to try it very soon. MS Word messed up my first manuscript and cost me a fortune to have it formatted by someone else in inDesign–removing all control over my own work. That was frustrating beyond description and I never want a repeat if it.


    1. Hi Ester
      I highly recommend the course. It’s a lot of info to plough through on your own. Hope it treats you better than Word. Sounds like you had a nightmare launch.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  8. It does look complex, Jo-Ann. But I’m glad you are being the pioneer here. I’ll be following your future posts about Scrivener with great interest.


    1. Hi Gwen
      Me too.
      Your “teaching” is excellent. If I’m not a total convert at the end it will be due to my leaky brain.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Best Wishes


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