You know what? I’ve been using Scrivener for a really long time. I’m an early adopter of cool technology, and I’m an optimist that I’ll be able to figure stuff out, so I’ll get interested in something like Scrivener and hop on it right away. Anything that will help me write, right? So I’ve had it for years. I watched the videos. I read the supporting documentation, and I’ve used about 10% of its capabilities 90% of the time.
Which is great. Because HONESTLY, if you only want to have a program that backs up automatically every few seconds so you don’t lose your data in the event of a crash, one you can’t close without it saving, Scrivener is for you. All you need is one good hard drive crash to reap that whirlwind. (Apple’s Pages will do that too, BTW.)
But there are other things I never noticed. Stop me if you’ve heard this before! There is a drop down box that says “Project” in Scrivener’s tool bar. If you click on this, and then you click on “Show Project Targets”, there is an editor that will allow you to set a deadline for yourself AND–here’s the awesome–it will let you choose the days you write, and then it will calculate exactly how much you need to write each day to meet your deadline. Huzzah, NaNoWriMo-ers!
It will ask you if you want to be notified when you have reached your goal. It will then “Ding” and put up a message that says you’ve achieved your goal for the day when you’ve written the required number of words.
Did you know that there are also several ways to keep information at hand on Scrivener? One is the always useful resource folder. You can drag and drop links from your web browser, and those links, when clicked, will automatically open in your browser when you click on them in the research folder. We probably all knew that.
But did you know that there is a floating post-it type note (Again, you can find this under “Project” by clicking “Project Notes”). You can use Project Notes to create file folders and individual notes, exactly as you would under your research materials, but the window will stay as a pop-up, even if you sideline scrivener and open your browser. Want to take down a statistic? Write it on your project notes. Want to remember the eye color of the love interest? Put it on your project notes. You can add and delete notes. It’s exactly like Apple’s Notes and it floats, so it’s always there as long as you have Scrivener open, no matter what else you have open on your desktop.
Project Notes is the perfect way to create a “Series Bible”. Everyone knows I have nine different books with characters who have some variant of the name Edward in them. Scrivener would have helped me with that. Alas, I did not have Scrivener back in the day.
Also, on the right hand side of the screen under the synopsis card, there is an area that talks about meta data that I ignore, and below that, there are document notes. You can put anything there, character names, vital statistics, foreign language translations, whatever, and that information stays no matter what chapter you’re working on. If you’ve said so-and-so has blue eyes in chapter one, you put that information there in the document notes, when you get to chapter nine, you don’t have to go back to chapter one to find out what color those eyes are. That’s GREAT for names, too. You can use that to make sure none of your character’s names are too similar or to write down anything you need to remember as you write. **Whoops, quick edit. Document notes refer to the chapter. Project notes refer to the whole project and they show up on your pop-up “general” project note pad too. You need to toggle the switch to project notes if you want the notes you’re taking on the side, below the meta data, to be available no matter what chapter you’re on… **
And speaking of the synopsis card, I’m sure all of you have used the index cards at the top right hand. I love the corkboard feature, and I used to use it to outline in a rather generic way. But you can also put the synopsis of each chapter there and then use the compile function to generate an ACTUAL synopsis later. So if you hate writing synopses as much as I do, then write good chapter synopses, “Michael finds out Devon ate all the green M&Ms from the bag. Seeing that food coloring is where Devon’s green lips came from, Michael is no longer afraid Devon is an alien. They kiss.”
You can task Scrivener with compiling and exporting all the data from those index cards out in order in a word document, creating an actual synopsis you can use (with a little tweaking) when it comes time to submit your book. Synopsis haters, rejoice. It’s not so bad when you do it this way.
As we’re all gearing up for NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d share a few of the Scrivener features I’ve learned through trial and error. Maybe they’ll help you out as much as they’ve helped me! Go NaNo-ers! Gear up, clear the decks of distractions (like writing blog posts, I know, I know…) and get ready.
Plotters, This is the time to get those outlines done.
Pantsters? Er…Make sure you’re wearing pants, I guess…Honestly. Nobody’s looking. You do you!