Learning Scrivener – 4 Month Update


“Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.” (from the Scrivener webpage)

Having just  finished the first draft of a story on Scrivener, I thought I’d talk about my progress with the program. To recap my journey so far:

  1. In September, I  purchased Scrivener and took the “how-to” course from Gwen Hernandez on-line (which I highly recommend)scrivener
  2. …Wrote several blog posts about Scrivener (see Scrivener Page on the sidebar)
  3. …And started writing with it.
  4. In January, I finished my draft and purchased Gwen Hernandez’s book, Scrivener for Dummies, because well, I’m a dummy and still have lots to learn.

I thought you might want to take a look.

The picture above shows a corner of my screen, set to the cork board view.

On the left is the Binder section which lists all my chapters. If I click on one, it will list the scenes within it. It also lists my characters.

The section to the right is called the Editor.  Here it displays the cork board  cards for scenes within Chapter 4. Notice they are color coded to indicate POV (pink is my heroine, blue my hero) and have tags which tell me at a glance the characters involved in that scene.With a click of a button, I can turn this section into a document view screen and type my story. I can also click it to full screen.

To the right of this section, but off-screen is the Inspector where I create synopses, make notes, add metadata, and label POV and settings.

It might sound confusing, but it’s not. It’s like a well-organized closet, with a place for everything and everything in it’s place.

At the top of the screen, above the work space are (going from top to bottom) the: Menu bar, Toolbar,  and Format Bar. As you can see they contain familiar icons and are easy to use.

What else might you want to know?

Yes, for me drafting a story is easier on Scrivener because…

  • it allows me to parachute into my manuscript easily
  • move scenes and chapters around
  • pull up character profiles
  • work on my cork board
  • view a detailed overview with word count and all the tags I’ve added
  • color code POV, settings
  • add notes, transfer notes
  • make searches
  • set daily and project targets (See below. This is the screen that comes up when I push the target button.) I can’t tell you how motivating this little screen can be.

IMG_20140118_144853~2Do I know all there is to know about Scrivener? No way. I’m still just a beginner. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

What’s next for me?

I’m going to keep working on learning the intricacies of Scrivener.I fell in love with my first wordprocessing program (Wordstar). Then it died (That is it became obsolete). Since then, I made a point of learning only what I needed to know to make a program work. But I’m living with Scrivener, so I’d like to get to know him better.

I’d love to form a Scrivener study group to share the experience with others, but we’ll see how that goes.

Any questions…comments?

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

12 thoughts on “Learning Scrivener – 4 Month Update”

  1. It does look interesting but the thought of adding one more thing to the plates I have spinning is overwhelming. In many ways It seems to draw together my PowerPoint and Pinterest bible,compost heap.


    1. Hi Pat
      I can see you spinning the plates. It’s quite the dance, and quite the compost heap. Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Jo-Ann, I’m thinking of taking Gwen’s course, but need to know…sometimes to think thorugh a scene, I open a doc single space and just type, searching for my ideas. Then I either incorportate that or modify it and insert. Can you think of something similar that would be possible to do with Scrivener. I like to fool myself sometimes and just jump ahead or do this supposedly off scene writings. I’m such a wimp. I need to fool myself.
    Suggestions. Many thanks.


    1. Hi Susan
      I highly recommend Gwen’s course. One of the best things about it is that she answers any and all questions.
      Scrivener would accommodate your style well. You can create a folder which you could call miscellaneous, and then open up a file and write your piece. The file will name itself with your first sentence, but you could rename it ‘Setting’, or ‘When Harry murders Annabelle’, or whatever phrase will help you remember its contents. The title can be changed in an instant. When you later know where you want that scene, it’s just a click and drag maneuver.
      My process is similar to yours. My stories come to me in pieces and they aren’t at all sequential. Scrivener helps me by, first, giving me a place to create my scene, and second, providing a place to store it so that I can retrieve it and fit it in wherever it ends up belonging.
      I just finished my first draft of a sixty six thousand word Rom-sus on Scrivener and compiled it to Word. I found the Scrivener program really helpful. My story is better organized than previous ones I’ve written and I completed my first draft faster.
      I hope that helps.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      Best Wishes


  3. Hi Jo-Ann,
    I write as a ‘panster’, do you think it’s possible to do that with Scrivener? I’ve been considering taking the course (and already bought the Dummy book- I know I’ll need it, lol) but haven’t had time to look into it.
    Thanks – great info here!


    1. Hi Maureen
      You’re welcome. I’m glad my sharing helped you.
      I’m a hybrid, part plotter part pantser, and the ratio seems to change with each story. Scrivener appeals to the panser in me, because my ideas don’t come to me in a neatly wrapped plot line. I get them down, and then arrange them. In Word I’d get frustrated doing this and often ended up repeating a scene, or losing a scene. But with Scrivener the binder and the clipboard makes it easier for me. It becomes my creative space where I can pour my story out, much like a painter throwing paint on a canvas and then the program, which was designed by a writer, helps me organize it.
      I hope that helps.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
      Good luck with your writing. I’d love to hear how you do with Scrivener.
      Best Wishes


  4. Morning, Jo-Ann. Glad to hear this update of your Scrivener experience. I doubt that I’ll give this a shot. I can’t imagine dealing with one other “new” thing this year. But I’m glad it’s working for you and others who swear by it. I’m pretty much a plodder (and plotter) and I write very sequentially. Some-times during rewrites/edits, I’ll find I have to move a scene, but mostly it comes out in the right order. More often, I’ll have to cut because I write stuff I need to know, but the reader not so much. Congrats on finishing another work. Your comment to Susan about how much faster you wrote I did find intriguing. But I think my slow writing is not so much the slowness of words coming, as making chunks of time available to let the words flow. Continue to keep us posted on your experience. I may yet jump on board. 🙂


    1. Hi Marsha
      I love your comment about cutting material, “I write stuff I need to know, but the reader not so much.” OM goodness do I ever do that a lot too. It used to worry me, now I just hit the delete button, a lot. lol.
      I envy your process, as you find it easy to write your stories sequentially. That would be such a comfort for me. I’m always scratching my head, particularly at the beginning, wondering what piece the reader needs to know next, because of course a lot of it is happening at the same time. But as much as I complain here, I have to say I enjoy the puzzle of it all, and feel like my writing’s getting better.
      I hope you find a nice chunk of time today to write,
      Best Wishes


      1. Never ever hit DELETE! Aggh! Just cut it and paste the section in the “Cuts” file for that book. You never know when you might need it for that book or another! I have in fact taken some of those sections and worked them into later parts of the story. LOL I have a beautiful scene in the second book I wrote. The book will probably not ever make it into the pubbed world. But I have that scene (which made my CPs at the time cry) and will surely find a use for it in something. 🙂


      2. Marsha
        Good point. Next time I’ll create a file for my cuts, call it ‘Lost Gems’ or something like that.


  5. Loved this post. About a year ago I purchased Scrivener, the Dummies book and took Gwen’s course. I made the commitment that I would begin and end my new book only with Scrivener and it is going very well! It is wonderful to have “everything” in one place so nothing gets lost–not even deleted scenes I swore I would never use but finally decided should go back in.


    1. Hi Christy
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation. Scrivener is a wonderful discovery isn’t it.
      Best Wishes


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