Monday, September 8, 2014

Scrivener - Again!

Scrivener.  I discovered this piece of software in the Spring of 2014, used the FREE 30-non-consecutive-day fully functioning program and fell in love.  It was exactly what I'd been looking for and for a PC user, this is a wonderful discovery.  Seems the Mac people have known about this for quite some time.

Anyway, there is a slight learning curve but once you get the basics, the extra bells and whistles are like more and more frosting on the cake ... or discovering a really cool toy in a box of Cracker Jacks.

One of the first things I learned and used heavily is the split screen.  Yes, I know, I can open several windows of Word and have it all available ... but I have to bounce through them and I have to FIND them. With Scrivener, my files and files of research are stored (full web pages, images, whatever) right within the project - there is no hunting for whatever-name-you-used file.  It's just a simple drop down to the left to the "Research" tab, click, and all the files you have saved are there for you.

I'm a visual guy and I will search the web (it has everything!) to find an image of what I think my character looks like - sometimes even two or three images.   For instance, I knew my inn-keeper was a largish male, bald, heavy mustache and eyebrows, apron, running around with a towel or rag on his shoulder, etc.  I found such an image. (Johan Steen, - this is a copy of his work in progress, the finished product is even better!)  I use the image strictly for me to use as a guide when describing Hvar, owner of The Red Horse Inn, in my current work-in-progress.  When I am stumped or confused about Hvar, I am able to click and see him and the creative juices flow. The same holds true for my other characters, locations, gods, etc.

Above to the left: Hvar, The Innkeeper and to the right, village with The Red Horse Inn.

Now this split screen is also very useful in combination with another feature of Scrivener. I can have the image up on side to use as a point of reference and the story on the other side. Talk about instant gratification.

The Snapshot. Using Snapshot, which is a copy of the project at a point in time, I can compare an older version with the current version or even replace the new version with the old version.  Snapshot(s) are my old way of saving versions where I used a sub-directory with a date so I knew when it was.  Again, no searching through file and piles of info, just scroll down the left.

There are too many wonderful aspects of Scrivener to describe how to use them in one blog.


I thought I'd reveal one trick I learned on my own.  I have several - and when I say several, I mean like about ten (10) works-in-progress going on at the same time.  I will work on whichever one my Muse decides strikes her fancy.  She's a coy and fickle one and I've learned to just go with the flow and work on what intrigues her at the time.

Now, from within Scrivener, I can switch out - bring up - any project I desire.  That is all and well but what if I am just opening Scrivener and want to work on XYZ and the last project I worked on was ABC and that will be the default project to open when Scrivener begins.  I found a work-around in Windows and I'm pretty sure it would also work in Mac.

Originally, I had my WIPs in Word and had created 'shortcuts' on my screen to those documents.  To mimic that - I open the project (.scrivx) of the desired file.  Since I keep my novels and stories in separate directories (i.e. C:\WIPs\story1\  and C:\WIPs\story2) the Scrivener "project.scrivx" file is in a directory with the filename of your choice (xyz.scriv) and in that directory is the "project.scrivx" file.  In fact, I've considered re-doing my files since Scrivener names each project and assigns it a diretory.  So my "WIPs" directory currently has several sub-dirs, each the name of book.  Scrivener has created a directory within those and I could easily let Scrivener create the sub-dir in WIPs.  Note to Self: Look into this aspect. (Anything to make my life as a writer easier!)

If you make "project.scrvx" the shortcut for your desktop icon, it will open Scrivener.exe automatically and default to the story of your choice.

I now have 10 Scrivener icons with different names of my of WIPs on my desktop that when I click, open the appropriate story to work on without having to select it inside Scrivener if it isn't the default opening file. Okay, so this tip isn't a mind-blower.  I'm proud of the fact that I discovered it on my own and I couldn't find anyone else who had come up with it.  Maybe others aren't as impatient as me when I start to write but I want the file I want to work on at the start, not click to get it.  Yes, I realize it is only one more click, but ...

PS: I have a gadget (widget, whatever) that I use which clears my desktop of all the icons and places them into scrolling folders.  My WIP shortcuts are stored there and easy access.  I think the product is called Launch Control and I've created folders, one which is "WIP" and holds all the direct-link icons to my writings.  Until I installed this widget, my screen was cluttered with about 60+ icons for applications, games and my work projects.  Now my screen is clear and Launch Control sits to the side, ready to do my bidding.

Until next I ramble on ...


  1. Okay - you lost me at dlr.'s and .scrvx's! haha! I'm writing non-fiction and I simply keep all of my resource materials right inside my WIP at the very top! LOL!!!! (just until it's complete of course). But sounds interesting for sure!

  2. THAT was my problem - I had web pages stored as documents and all kinds of stuff saved, like images and graphs BUT I had to open each of them. With Scrivener, it is all inside the project and I just click to see it - no opening another window, program or copy of the current program. When I wrote my Amish novel, I had pages and pages of info and it was all too confusing and when I wanted a tidbit of info, I spent more time looking for it in all the docs than writing and sometimes I'd just get sidetracked on what I was doing. Scrivener helps me keep focus. With the split screen I can see 2 items, be it an image, webpage or another document. So easy. As to the .scrvx -- Scrivener even makes that an easy find since each project has its own directory. Find a mildly geeky person to help you. LOL.,

  3. I still can't wrap my head around this and I don't have the brainpower to learn or want to learn. I did that free 30 day thing. It was fine... sigh... one day...

  4. Been considering using Scrivener for my projects...nearly convinced now. Thanks Bob.