Working On Scrivener: My First Lessons.

Some days ago, I posted about how I got on to Scrivener, at last! I want to build on that theme and let you know what I have been up to and how I have fared. My objective in sharing this is to help newbies (newer to Scrivener than me, which isn’t saying much anyway) with tips so that they don’t make the mistakes I did.

My first challenge was to decide whether I would use Scrivener for starting a totally new project or for working on an ongoing one. I spent a few days thinking about this during which time I made a few false starts on Scrivener. At times, I felt it might be far better to start from scratch. But then I thought to myself, “God, you have already keyed in more than 50,000 words of your ongoing project. Why the heck would you want to do all of it all over again? Sure, there would be changes but you are unlikely to rewrite the entire project.” Tip: It is perfectly alright to use Scrivener to edit your ongoing project. Having read somewhere that Scrivener can be used as profitably for editing ongoing projects, I took a deep breath and “imported” 50,000 + words of my NaNoNovel for 2013, ” Obedience Unto Death”  which I am currently in the process of editing. The process of  importing itself went through pretty smoothly.

This brings me to my next suggestion. Tip : please import the latest version of your ongoing project. Working on multiple writing projects could leave you with innumerable versions of different projects. This certainly happens to me. Don’t by mistake import one version of your project only to realize after  importing it to Scrivener and working on it for sometime that you have a more current version lying elsewhere.

I must say the Scrivener Manual and the Interactive Tutorial was really educative but I realised that there was no point in reading and re-reading it without , in a manner of speaking, taking the plunge. I therefore dived headlong into the process of editing my ongoing project, without reading everything I could about Scrivener.  Tip: There is a host of material out there and you could get swamped in  them and drown. Besides, I caught on thanks to my readings that most authors use only a fraction of Scrivener’s awesome capabilities. I understood it was perfectly ok to learn on the job, instead of trying to master features I might not use for a long time to come. I reminded myself that I was a writer of fiction and not a developer of a software program to aid writers.

The videos provided by Scrivener were of much use.  Tip: I would suggest you see the basic ones before you start using Scrivener.

Initially I found it difficult to work with “Chapters” and “Scenes” until I understood that the beauty of Scrivener lay in it providing you the scope to write bits of the story which could come in just about anywhere: at the beginning, in the middle or  at the end. Once this sank in, I felt a whole lot better as till then I was used to seeing my output chronologically arranged for the most part in a Word document. I also realised that the Corkboard did wonders in moving data from one place to another. This was a major feature I was looking for, as explained in my last post. Tip: Use Corkboard to visually capture the sequence of the story. Making changes was far easier than I had imagined. I felt a thrill when I moved a card on the Corkboard from one place to another and found the material had been re-arranged in the Manuscript as well.

As you can see, I am “learning on the job.” More later, about how I fare. If you haven’t made up your mind to buy Scrivener, I would suggest you should seriously consider it. If I see the gains so soon, imagine what it could do for you as a writer.

5 thoughts on “Working On Scrivener: My First Lessons.

  1. I’ve been using Scrivener for a year and had many of the same experiences in the beginning – too many versions and not being sure how to handle the chapter/ scene thing. I started with a WIP in progress that has since been published. Beginners should take your advice – it is a learn as you go process.

  2. Hi Prem

    Delighted to find your post as I am toying with getting Scrivener and already have WIP of around 60,000 – My issue is that it is already in about 8 different documents (I can’t work in a linear way – which is why I hope Scrivener will help me organise what is now becoming unwieldy !)

    So my big question is, will I be able to import a number of documents to the same book on Scrivener?

    Any advice much appreciated – thank you, Lisa

    1. Lisa, thanks for commenting. I imported just one document and had no problem. I haven’t any experience of importing multiple documents into the same project. You could try or alternatively merge the eight into one for the time being (keeping copies of the original eight, of course) and import this into Scrivener, I feel this may be best. Do let me know how it works out for you.

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