How To Make The Most Of Scrivener For Your Manuscript

How to Compile a kindle ebook in scrivenerSo, you’ve decided to write your book in Scrivener. Well done. Every self-published author I have ever heard, who talks about software, uses Scrivener. I have already written a post about some important lessons that I learnt using Scrivener when compiling the manuscript in to an eBook format, you can find it here. But this particular post will contain the useful tools that I use when writing the manuscript in the first place.

Like any software, there’s a whole host of functions that Scrivener can perform that I have no idea of, but here are some of the tweaks that I have made that makes the whole process run smoothly.

Document Set-Up

For writing any fiction, I choose “Novel Fiction” as the initial format when starting a project. Then make sure that in the folder tree down the left-hand side you create folders for your chapters. Twice I have kept the chapters as text files and then had to convert them at the end and this is a ball ache. What ever you want to see on the Contents page of the final book needs to have a folder when you’re writing it.

Spelling and Grammar

Make sure that in the ‘Edit’ menu you select “Check Spelling with Typing” and “Check Grammar with Spelling”, it saves time in the long run.

Full Screen

I always write using the “Full Screen” composition mode, which is the, black box with two opposing white arrows, in the middle at the top of the screen. The good thing with this feature is that it blocks off your whole computer. So, if you have email pop-ups like I do then it stops them coming up. Also, it just looks like a white piece of paper on a black background so the risk of distraction is minimised completely.

First Line Indents

You need to get this right at the beginning. It took me ages to go through an entire 90,000 word novel correcting this for every paragraph. Make sure in Format/Text/Indents you have Increased, or Decreased, your first line indent to your satisfaction, then it will stay the same all the way through the document.

For a straight-forward novel this was all I used. There’s a load more functions for non-fiction, or if you have lists and tables included. However there are two functions that I aim to use the next time I write.

Word Target

You can set a target for the session by clicking on the small circle at the bottom of the page. It will then show a progress indicator glowing from red to green as you get nearer. The only downside seems to be that this indicator is not visible on the full screen mode.

Cork Board

I definitely understood the benefits of planning thoroughly in the Christmas Short Stories book. From now on I will definitely spend more time planning the entire book before I dive in to the writing, because I think this will save time when it comes to the edit. I’m still undecided whether to use the cork board functionality on Scrivener, or actual post-it notes on the wall. I may do both.

I hope this helps, and saves time, when it comes to initially setting up Scrivener before you get on with the creative writing. In the next post I will be going in to the last minute formatting that goes on and the jiggling between Scrivener and Kindle Preview.

14 Responses to How To Make The Most Of Scrivener For Your Manuscript

  1. Thank you – I’m starting a new novel draft soon and have been thinking about using a writing software such as Scrivener or yWriter. Do you know if Scrivener is Mac compatible?

  2. Excellent advice, Michael. I’ve been using Windows Scrivener for about a year now. Like you, I have only scratched the surface of its capabilities, but it is definitely the writer’s tool I’ve been looking for… corkboard (index cards), or outline, or manuscript, or a mix in separate editors.
    After using it to assemble research materials and “interviews” with my co-writer, I was able to write a script first draft in a very few weeks (and it took me about an hour to clean that up in a true screenwriting program).
    A word of warning for spell-check: with auto-correct on you can sometimes find yourself having some pretty laughable corrections.
    (If you are one Facebook, Michael, you may want to share this with the Scrivener group there; unless you already have!).
    John

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  10. Did you buy the software or download it for free off the internet?

  11. Good post. Did you buy the software or download it for free?

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