Learning Scrivener (Week 2)

scriveWeek Two

I’m taking a fantastic course on Scrivener, a software program for writers, given by Gwen Hernandez. In the second week we’ve covered:

  • more about the inspector (i.e., the third section on the far right of the screen that has lots of things in it, like the Synopsis)
  • the editor (i.e., the center part of the screen where you do your writing)
  • full screen mode (that’s when all you see is the editor but you can access everything else easily)
  • adding annotations, comments, and footnotes
  • and other cool features and settings, like how to highlight sections in different colors and later search for them (i.e., perfect for the Margie Lawson fans)

The Moment I Knew (Day 11)

I wanted to look at a setting description of a cafe I used in my first Maggy book, while I wrote a similar description for the same place in the second book. I was concerned KNOCKOUTabout: consistency, believability…all that good stuff. I didn’t want the music played in the background, or the color of the table clothes to change. I wanted to create a place that’s comfortable for the reader to re-visit – an immutable setting.

No problem, I’ll just split the screen, I thought. Put one piece of text below while I write on top. But you can’t do that in Word. That’s something you do in Scrivener. Hmmmmm. I sat back, and mentally slapped myself. I’m typing in Word and thinking in Scrivener. Now, that’s not a good thing. It’s like thinking in French and speaking in English. You can order some really bad wine that way.

But I didn’t want to change. Not yet. I wanted to be really sure before I made the jump, so I cut and paste a couple paragraphs from book one into book two and worked them over. The system was fast and didn’t take that long, but I knew the split screen would have been better. And better yet, having the setting description in the research folder of my Scrivener binder would have been the best option of all.

So that was my turning point. I’m now writing happily in Scrivener. I’m a total convert.

My daughter told me that it’s written by a man who started out as a programmer, became a writer, and then decided to write a program for writing. If you’re interested in writing software for fiction or non-fiction it’s worth looking at.

Note: Go here to find my comments about my first week with Scrivener.

Have you had turning points lately?

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

Jo-Ann Carson writes a saucy mix of fantasy, adventure and romance. Her latest stories are in the Gambling Ghosts Series: A Highland Ghost for Christmas, A Viking Ghost for Valentine’s Day, Confessions of a Pirate Ghost and The Biker Ghost Meets his Match. An anthology of the novellas will be coming out this summer. Currently she is working on Midnight Magic, A Ghost & Abby Mystery, the first book in a spin-off series from her Viking ghost story. Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, playing Mah Jong and drinking good coffee. You can chat with her on social media: You can find all her links on her website - http://jo-anncarson.com

20 thoughts on “Learning Scrivener (Week 2)”

  1. I’m happy you hit the breakthrough, Jo-Ann. I know the people who love Scrivener, really, really love it. I just can’t manage to learn something new at this point. Probably should take the time, but just can’t swing it right now. So this next book will be written the old fashioned way with Word Perfect and all my various folders.
    So far as turning points…I’ll connect to your Margie Lawson reference. The first time I heard her talk and she went into the colored highlighters thing, my mind glazed over. I couldn’t wrap my brain around all of it. But then after numerous rejections and my CPs continuing to tell me to find the emotion. I ordered her packets and started painstakingly back through them with my WIP. This time I was ready to hear and to learn what she said. And that book VERMONT ESCAPE went on to sell. So yea! Margie Lawson! Yea breath throughs! One of the best thing about being a writer is we get to keep on learning. Appreciate you sharing your experiences with Scrivener.

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    1. Hi Marsha
      I have another friend who swears by Margie Lawson. I really need to take a look at her work, but am swamped with this learning curve at the moment. It’s so nice to find something, whether it be a piece of craft or software that furthers our writing. So exciting!
      btw – I can highlight like crazy in Scrivener, if I do decide to take the Margie Lawson courses.
      Sometimes I feel like my learning to write experience is like being plunked in the middle of a toss salad. There are so many interesting things around me…
      I hope editing your second book is going well.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.
      Best
      Jo-Ann

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  2. I will soon make the purchase, clear the decks for making the learning curve, and struggle with Scrivener. I write in scenes, and my WIP is loaded with research I did last year and recorded in yWrite which doesn’t work for me. Like some of your other readers, I have the “advantage” of much experience in life itself but not with computers. Thanks for the encouragement.

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    1. Hi Georgia
      Nice to meet you.
      I haven’t used ywrite.
      I love your line about, “…the advantage of life experience…” And I think of those who share your boat have to congratulate ourselves when we take on something new. So many don’t, and I don’t want to be one of them. There’s so much to learn out there.
      Scrivener has a template for non-fiction as well as fiction books, and both have lots of room for research.
      I’m a post-it note kind of person, who is forever writing myself notes about my manuscript and losing them. One of the biggest advantages of Scrivener for me is that it gives me lots of nooks and crannies to store and organize those thoughts.
      I’m glad my post was useful to you. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.I’d love to hear how you do with Scrivener.
      Best Wishes
      Jo-Ann

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  3. Glad you’re enjoying your journey, but I think most people have not taken a word tutorial and don’t use most of it’s functions. I know I still keep finding new things. :-))
    You can do it in Word. You go to View on the menu and click side by side. The documents open side by side. (they have to open on the desktop for it to work.) Then you can make them scroll in sync if you want to scroll through to a point and have the other ms keep up, or have them unattached, so to speak.
    Enjoying your scrivner journey, but I’m still unconvinced.

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    1. Hi Judy
      I think you’re talking about the Microsoft Word program (for those readers who might be confused). I know you love it and are a whiz at making it do what you want it to do. I’ve been using it for years, but don’t know it as well as you. I had, for example, no idea I could split the screen in Word. Good to know.
      Still, I’m adding on to my personal list of why I like Scrivener.
      But, let me be clear, the list is for me and my writing process. It is not my intention to sell the program to you or others. I am just writing about my learning journey.
      I figure, you gotta use what works for you. So “…stay unconvinced…” That’s not a problem for me.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.
      Best Wishes
      Jo-Ann

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  4. I started using Scrivner, computer crashed and can’t find my code to get me back in. I am off to buy it again and since I write in scenes and use index card methods, I like working with it. If nothing else but that it logs characters, etc. I am happy you are blogging on this subject and hope to vicariously learn through you so that I can get up to speed faster.

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    1. Hi D.J.
      Sorry about the crash. That is painfull.
      One thing that might help you is Gwen Hernandez’s cheat sheet from Scrivener for Dummies, which can be found on-line here.
      Hope it helps. But I highly recommend her course. She teaches it piece by piece, and answers all questions.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Love to hear how it goes.
      Best Wishes
      Jo-Ann

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  5. I’m taking the same course, and yes, it is well taught but I am still not loving Scrivener. I am not an outliner, or a index card person – I write and write until I’m done. So I think Scrivener is not for me. There are a lot of features, but to me they are more distracting than helpful. But I’m reserving final judgement until the end.

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    1. Hi Judy
      Thanks for weighing in with your experience. Let’s stay in touch and see how you feel as the course goes on.
      Best Wishes
      Jo-Ann

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  6. Sounds like you had a break-through! Bravo! I think I would need a bigger monitor -sounds like there can be alot of details on the screen. So far I haven’t mastered the split-screen scenario. I’m enjoying learning about your progress with this programme.

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    1. Hi Jodie
      Thanks. I am having fun. I use a big screen when I work, and 200% magnification so it’s really easy on my eyes and there’s lots of room to work. I think if I worked on my lap top screen I would have to close sections down so I could concentrate on the part I wanted to work on. I should try it at some point, but I am addicted to the big screen.
      Best Wishes
      Jo-Ann

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  7. I’m not ready to make the switch to Scrivener yet but I’m glad it’s working for you. I actually use PowerPoint to keep track of things such as the tablecloths in your cafe and am able to pull it up whenI need it. Again that’s just something that I’ve learned which works for me. Along with Margie Lawson’s Deep Editing System although I could still use more practise. Then there’s the tips and tricks I picked up at Thrillerfest…

    It’s an on-going process!

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    1. Hi Pat
      Powerpoint. I never thought of using it for my writing.
      I agree it is an on-going process. But the good news is that it never gets boring. There’s always more to learn and experiment with.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      Best always
      Jo-Ann

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  8. Thanks for your progress report. I began using Scrivener four years ago. I had mastered (yes, I had to teach one of the instructors how to do some things) MS Word (since 1990). Primarily I sue two word processors for special projects. I use Mellel because it properly handles Hebrew on fly and integrates all of the languages I use (Greek, German, Latin, as well as Hebrew).

    But for writing (without Hebrew), Scrivener has become my choice. I edited our National church magazine for three years using Scrivener. What a time saver! I would get word processing files in a number of formats, import them into Scrivener, and bring it into the current issue, and edit. What used to take up to two hours on one article became 15 minutes from start to finish.

    Now I have two major projects. One is a project for my four blogs, for easy access and preparation. My biggest project is the entire curriculum for a seminary program (I am president and teach classes). I write my weekly notes there, and then import everything that other professors use in their classes. If I need to have a physical copy, the export to .rtf or .doc/,docx is simple and involves 2-3 clicks. I couldn’t imagine doing either project in anything else but Scrivener. As a pastor I also teach in a congregation. And now Scrivener is my choice for preparing all Bible studies.

    And yes, I am an old codger, whose first experience with computers was in college in 1968 using Fortran IV with an IBM 360, cutting edge technology at the time. But not really portable! My only regret is that with four years of college and nine years of post graduate studies, I did them all papers on typewriters! Love computers and those write programs to move forward in this endeavor.

    Thanks again for your report on Scrivener.

    Rich

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    1. Rich
      Oh my goodness. I’ve never heard such a detailed testimonial for Scrivener. You are such a busy man and it sounds like the perfect tool for you. Thank you so much for stopping by and adding to the conversation. Your comment motivates me to learn more. Stretch the grey matter.
      I remember the data cards too.
      Best Wishes
      Jo-Ann

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  9. Oh my goodness, Jo-Ann! it does sound overwhelming to me, but I’m glad that you are making such great strides and are enjoying it. Perhaps, after I make the switch to a new computer I may try it. At the moment I’d say it’s still under advisement. But I am enjoying reading about your experience with Scrivener.

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