Monthly Archives: October 2014

Getting started in Scrivener

With Nanowrimo almost upon us, many people are trying out Scrivener for the first time, so I’ve put a guide together to help you. Click on any screenshot to see it larger. You can also download a PDF version Getting started in Scrivener if you would rather print the instructions out to have next to you.


First download and install your Scrivener trial – currently the best link is from – this is a special nanowrimo trial that will last until 7th December.


new projectCreating a new project gives you a few options. I would suggest sticking to Fiction for nano if it’s your first time using Scrivener.


Give your file a name and choose where to save it – I always save mine to Dropbox as I can then access it via PC or laptop.


setting up


When you click Create, this is what you will be faced with. On the left is the Binder, which organises all your documents. Use the triangles to expand and contract your structure. Typing happens in the main area.

Building your structure

create new folderClick on Manuscript in the Binder. Click on the triangle next to the green Add Item button and choose New Folder. There is already one there, called Chapter.


Name your folders as your Chapter titles.


On each folder, click on the green Add Item button (or on the triangle next to it and select New Text)  to create a scene in the chapter, and give each scene a name.


part projectYour organisation can be as complex or simple as you like – here, under Manuscript I have two chapters (folders), each with one scene (text document), but each chapter can contain several scenes. Just add a new one when you need it, via the Add Item button. You can drag and drop folders and files in the Binder to change the organisation.


There is also a folder labelled Research, where you can create and store any documents containing notes rather than actual manuscript. Ignore any other folders for now – just worry about Manuscript and Research.


project targetsClick on Project/Project Targets and set up your manuscript target as 50,000 and your session target at 1667 (or whatever your daily/session target is). See those bars change colour as you get closer to your target. Scrivener will keep track of your overall word count for the project and each session, whether you work on one scene or split your time between several.


Click on the scene you want to write and get started! Jump between scenes by clicking on the scene name in the Binder. Add a new scene/chapter as you need it or set up your complete structure in advance; the choice is yours.


Don’t worry about saving – Scrivener saves as you go along. If you are switching machines and using Dropbox or other cloud storage, just give your machine enough time to sync between closing Scrivener and shutting the computer down, and between turning the next one on and opening the project.

Using the Inspector

turn on inspectorIf you want to make fuller use of Scrivener, I suggest you start with the Inspector.


Click on View/Layout/Inspector to turn on the Inspector pane on the right. This gives you options to record information about each section.


InspectorHere I have added a synopsis of the scene. There is meta data that you can play with, to label the type of document (scene, character notes, idea, notes), and a status you can set. You can use the ones already created, or you can create your own by using the Edit button at the bottom of the list of options.











Click on a chapter folder and then Corkboard button on the top middle of the screen to see the synopsis cards. You can drag them around to change their order.



outline viewOr click on Outline View to see a different view of your structure. You might have to resize columns so that you can see all of them in the window. You can use Outline View on your Manuscript and expand each chapter, to get an overview of your complete novel, as well as on individual chapters.



Click back on an individual text file to continue working on that file.



compileIt’s a good idea to compile your project every so often to produce a backup version. Click the Compile button or choose Project/Compile. There are a variety of settings – I usually use these for backups. This produces a straightforward text document that can be read in most word processors.


Most of all, have fun writing!


Using paragraph formatting in MS Word 2010

So you’ve applied your styles, using Heading 1 for your chapter headings and Normal for the main text. You can format the headings easily and then update the style to make the same change throughout the document. The last thing to do is to format your body text appropriately.


Standard layout for an ebook or printed book is to indicate new paragraphs by indenting the first line. You should also avoid adding extra blank lines anywhere by using the return key. For both of these you need to access paragraph formatting.


Paragraph formatting dialog box


paragraph formattingWithin the paragraph formatting dialog box there are several areas of interest. You can format the alignment here – left, right, centered or justified.


You can add indents to left or right – if you want to set in a paragraph from the margins – or set a special first line indent.


You can also add space before or after the paragraph. This is the best feature to use if you want your headings to appear lower down the page, or have a gap between the heading and the text.


You can set your linespacing at various depths, including single and fixed spacing.


line and page breaksOn the other tab for the paragraph dialog box is Line and Page breaks.


The most interesting of these is Widow/Orphan control – when ticked, this will stop the first line or last line of the paragraph appearing on a different page from the rest. You might decide you prefer this option turned on, or you might turn it off if you want exactly the same number of lines of text on each page. If you do turn it off, I suggest you look at the layout of your print design carefully to check for widows and orphans, as it’s possible the automatic system could give you a single word on its own at the end of a chapter.


Keep with next will ensure there is no page break between a paragraph of this style and the next paragraph – useful for ensuring headings don’t appear on their own at the bottom of the page.


Keep lines together will ensure the paragraph is not split between pages.


Page break before will automatically start a new page with this paragraph – again, useful for headings.


Accessing the Paragraph format box


paragraph section of home ribbon

  • Click on the right-hand bottom corner of the paragraph section of the Home ribbon.


  • Right-click the text and select Paragraph…


If you access it either of these two ways, once you have the paragraph the way you want it to look don’t forget to right-click the paragraph and select Styles/Modify Normal to match selection.


modify styleAlternatively, you can right-click on the style in the style panel, choose Modify… and click on the Format button in the bottom left-hand corner. Choose Paragraph from the list of options. This method modifies the style directly, so you should see the change applied throughout when you press OK.


The first paragraph in the chapter or underneath a divider should not be indented, so it’s best to set up another style to cover this. Add in a centered style for your dividers (and maybe any images you wish to include) and you’re ready to go!