Tag Archives: scrivener

Scrivener project targets

With nanowrimo coming up fast, it’s useful to know how to use the targets option in Scrivener. Please note: these instructions are for the PC version, but the process should be similar in Mac version.

To add the project targets option to your toolbar, click on Tools>Customise toolbar.


Choose the Main Toolbar as the destination, find the project targets button in the list on the left, and then click the right arrow to move it into the list. You can move it up or down to get it exactly where you want it.


If you don’t want the button on your toolbar, then it can be accessed at any time Under Project>Project targets.


The project target window looks like this – set up your draft target for the total number of words you’re aiming for overall. Tick the box for documents included in compile only if you don’t want to include any project notes you add.


The session target will count the number of words you add in any session – the session ends when you shut the file down. So if you jump from scene to scene, this will keep tally for you.


There’s also a document target. Click on the little circle on the bottom right of the window, and you’ll get the option to set a target for that specific scene, or document.


Once you’ve set up your targets, you’re ready to go!




Compiling your work from Scrivener

The PDF version of these instructions is here: Compiling your work from Scrivener.


Once you have finished writing your novel (congratulations!) you need to be able to export it from Scrivener for use elsewhere. While it is possible to compile straight to ebook format from Scrivener, I would recommend compiling to an intermediate format such as RTF (which is Word compatible), where you can play with formatting and check for last-minute errors before the final compile.


There are three basic ways you might have organised your files within Scrivener:

You might have just one folder with all your files in.

simple structure

You might have folders for each chapter, each containing at least one scene.

basic structureYou might have a more complicated structure, such as a prologue and parts, each part containing chapters, each chapter containing scenes, plus an epilogue at the end.

complicated structure

You can see I’ve also been playing around with the icons for the scenes! 


The basic structure for compiling is the same, whatever your structure.


compile buttonClick the Compile button on the toolbar, or select File/Compile.


The short version of the dialog box gives you options to choose – for the complicated structure, you need to choose a format that says (with parts). Otherwise choose whichever option you want: ebook, paperback or standard manuscript, for example.

compile dialog

Clicking on the blue down arrow on the right shows the full functionality of the box.

compile dialog full

Under Contents you need to check that all the files you need to include are ticked. Any that don’t fall into the main structure, such as a prologue or epilogue, need the As-Is box ticked.


Scrivener will number any folders as chapters and if you have the part/chapter structure (here you can see a part called The Game containing a chapter called Preparations) then Scrivener will number them accordingly as long as you have chosen a structure with parts, so don’t include chapter/part numbers within the folder names.


There are several tabs of options for Compile, so I suggest you play around with them and see what the end result is. One you particularly need to look at is Transformations.


Click on Transformations on the left to see transformation options.

standard compile transformations

Here you see the Transformations options for a Standard Manuscript, which includes straightening smart quotes and converting italics to underlines. You might want these options turned off, depending on what you intend to do with the file.


When you are finished with the options, check the file type you are compiling for and then click on Compile, and you will be prompted to save the file somewhere and give it a name. I would recommend saving as RTF (rich text format), which can be viewed in most word processors.

Be careful!

You now have the Scrivener version of your novel and a compiled version. While some compiled versions, such as ebooks, will not allow you to edit them anyway, there is a big danger with other versions that you make changes to this file and not to the master version in Scrivener. Once you start working on the compiled version, it can be fiddly to get the work back into Scrivener, so be aware of issues if you send a file to a beta reader, editor or proofreader. Make sure that you are prepared to transfer changes back to the Scrivener version, or continue your work on the compiled version only. This is why I recommend using Scrivener to write and edit your novel, then switching to a word processor for the final tidy up, format and proofread before exporting to PDF for print versions or MOBI/EPUB for ebook versions.




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 http://www.literatureandlatte.com/nanowrimo.php – 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!