10 Tips for Writing Your Novel in Scrivener, Part II

In part one we started with a completely blank Project Template and started to build a custom Project Template that we will be able to use every time we have a new project to start. This week we will finish with the last four tips as well as three interesting Pro-Tips that will make your Scrivener experience even better. So take a few moments and open your Custom Project Template that you built last week as we’re going to add to it.

4. Setting The Default Font

TextPrefWhile you can create custom templates that use whatever fonts you’d like, you will still need use blank pages from time to time. Before you do that it is best to set up your default page to match the same setup as customer templates. To do that use the menu PROJECT > TEXT PREFERENCES. To the right is the screen shot of the Project Formatting Preferences. You can set the font to any font you have installed by clicking the A button on the right. The margins and tabs are setup using the blue arrows, also on the right. In the window you can see how your settings look as an example. To the left is the spacing button, which I’ve set to 1.4; I find this setting easy to read on my laptop screen.

The Use Current button is used if the page you’ve selected is setup the way you want to default to be set up. Click the Use Current button and the setting will change to match the selected page. If your document will use footnote information, you can setup unique footnote fonts to make them easy to see. For my novel I won’t need to use footnotes, so I’m leaving these two items unchecked. Once you’ve completed all of the setup all you need to click the Make Default button. With that you’re done. All of you new blank pages will use these settings as default.

3. Drawing the Outline of Your Novel

outlineThere are three different ways you can view your Draft copy. This is shown as the three icons in the right-center of the icon bar (there is a cork board in the middle icon). The first is a Cue Card system that allows you to write your outline information on the cue card that can be best thought of as paper clipped to your main document. There’s not much setting you need to do with the cue cards (there are some, and I will discuss them later in a future blog). There is also the Scrivenings setting that strings your individual document files into a single document, making it easier to read and review. My favourite of the three is the Outline view (seen on the right) where each of your individual files will appear in this window but at first there are very view columns. I always start by adding a number of columns by clicking the >> to the far right of the column header. This button opens up a window with a number of different columns you can add to the outline. I make sure my outline included POV (remember we updated this last week with Tip #9), Status, Created Date, Modified Date, Words, Total Words, Page Break Before, Target and Progress. As I work through my novel the outline will give me a complete overall view of the word completed to date. The Cue Card information also appears on the outline (I’ll show this in a later when I have more documents to display).

2. Are you a Collector?

CollectionsThe left two buttons control the way the binder appears on the right side of your Scrivener Screen. The first button will toggle the binder off and on. Not much use for me as I see the binder as the most important part of my novel. The middle button changes the binder into a set of collection tabs. The binder is normally displayed and any collections you may have appear in the grey space above the Search Results. What is a collection? In my novel I have three different POV characters. You can bring any files that exists in your binder together into a collection. It’s a different way of looking at those files. For example, I will create a collection for each of my POV characters which will bring just the chapters written in that character’s POV together so that I can read just their plot lines through the novel. Collections are not copies or duplicates of your files, they are the original files just gathered in a different way. If you change the contents of a file in a collection, that change also appears in the file as it appears in the binder as well as other collections that the file appears in. Like POV collections you can create collations based on character arcs, plot treads or scene settings. This is a great way to focus on specific parts of your writing project as a single, smaller unit.

Any files put into a collation can also be removed from the collection. If you believe you’ll make use of this powerful feature, active the collection binder so it can se saved as part of your Custom Project Template. Of course, at any time you can turn this feature on or off as you need it.

1. Sync and Run

syncDo you have a tablet? Do you use Dropbox? If so, you have what you’ll need to take your Scrivener out and about. While there is no mobile version of Scrivener there are workarounds that allow the author to take their story out and about. The first thing you would need to do is setup your project so that syncs with an external drive. The best option is Dropbox as there are so many mobile writing apps that connect to Dropbox and allow you to edit files in your folder. Once you have a Dropbox account you can then return to Scrivener and click FILE > SYNC > WITH EXTERNAL FOLDER. The window on the right appears.

Once Dropbox is installed it becomes a directory which you can select like any other directory on your computer. Take a moment and open you Dropbox directory and create a new directory DROPBOX > {NOVEL TITLE} as this is where the sync will go. Return to Scrivener and click CHOOSE and navigate to the Dropbox directory and select it. The options are pretty much correct, check the SYNC ALL OTHER TEXT DOCUMENTS IN THE PROJECT so that your research documents will be available to edit on the run.

Now grab your mobile device. I use a iPad Mini so I can only talk about that option (but if you have a Microsoft Surface Pro you could install the full version of Scrivener right on the device). You’ll need an editor on your iPad and the best one I’ve found is iA Writer. It allows you to edit files from your Dropbox account easily. Every time you open and close your Project in Scrivener it will sync with your Dropbox account allowing to work seamlessly when your away from your computer.

Now our Customer Project Template is complete. Save the custom template (see Tip #5 from last week’s article) and overwrite the previous version with your completed version. Now for the three interesting pro-tips that will help you get the most out of Scrivener.

Three Scrivener Pro-Tips

1. Have Scrivener Read to You

This is one of my favourite features of Scrivener. You’ve written a document and you’ve been editing it for some time and you start to wonder if it sounds odd or if it’s just you. You need another person to read it to you so you can listen to it without reading it. Have Scrivener read it to you. EDIT > SPEECH > START SPEAKING and Scrivener will read your document to you. You can stop it at any time with EDIT > SPEECH > STOP SPEAKING in order to make a correction. When you’re ready to continue, place your cursor before the correction and choose START SPEAKING and it will continue.

2. Need a Name, Leave a Name

You’re writing a scene and everything is flowing well then suddenly the waitress needs a name. Of course you can use something simple such as Sally, or Rhonda, but what if you want to add a little more life and depth to your waitress? Scrivener can help. EDIT > WRITING TOOLS > NAME GENERATOR will open a name window. The small gear in the lower right corner allows you to edit which names are selected. When your done setting the options, click the little gear again and then click GENERATE NAMES. There is a scroll bar to generate a number of names at once. Just want to name the waitress, set the number to 1. Do you suddenly need 9 names for the local pee-wee baseball team, set it to 9. Under the options window there is a plus ( + ) sign to add new lists of names. Create a .CSV document with a single line of names, separated by commas, Bob,Doug,Rick,Dave,… for example. You can then import the list giving it a title and assigning it a type, such as Surnames. The name generator is a great tool for writers who discover their story as they write.

3. Splitting Your Original Documents

You can easily import documents written in other word processors, such as Word or Pages. Once you have imported you document you may want to divid the document into several smaller parts, such as chapters or sections or even scenes. There is an easy way to split the document. Open your document and set your cursor at the point where you want to split the document. Right-click the document to bring up the side menu and then click SPLIT AT SELECTION or SPLIT AT SELECTION AS TITLE. I prefer the first one and then I give the new file my own name. You can move to the new file and find the next split point and right-click once again, splitting the document again. Continue this process until you have divided your old document into various, useful sections.

I hope you have found these last two articles useful as you prepare to write your novel in Scrivener. As I write my novel I will continue with posts, discussing a number of different things I’ve encountered during the process.

– Steve

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3 responses to “10 Tips for Writing Your Novel in Scrivener, Part II

  1. Hi Steve, I’m very excited about the speech feature but I can’t find it. I have the Windows version and the menu does not show “speech” “start speaking” as you say. My Scrivener was updated this year, I think it was a few months ago. Is there a new one? What am I missing? Thank you!

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