8 Scrivener Tools That Can Help You Today

As I mentioned in my last post about Scrivener, I’ve begun writing my next book, The White Arrow. There are several tools in Scrivener that I use to help me while I write much like having a screwdriver or hammer with me while I repair something around the house. There are 8 tools you can use via Scrivener’s Inspector to help you as you write your rough draft depending on what you need to do. But first, you need to turn on the Inspector and you can do that by clicking View, sliding to Layout and click Inspector from the fly-out menu.

Turn-On the Inspector

Most all users of Scrivener are very familiar with the Binder which appears on the left when turned on. This is a great visual tool for managing your content structure and re-organizing it as necessary (structural editing, if you will). However, there are set of tools available to use via the Inspector bar which appears on the right. Let’s take a look at them and how they can assist you as you write.

Synopsis: there are 6 buttons to toggle at the top of the Inspector bar and the first four all show a window labeled Synopsis. This window actually coincides with what you can view in the outliner or on the corkboard. Since it’s visible in most of the Inspector tools, you are usually able to see what you’ve planned to do with the scene or chapter you are writing. Content in Synopsis keeps you from floundering as you progress but it also allows to make changes while you make that progress without clicking around too much. It serves as both a guide and a way to make easy structural changes. You can collapse this windows by clicking the arrow just to the left of the word Synopsis.

General Meta-Data: this is another window on the Inspector bar just below Synopsis that’s also viewable in the first four toggle buttons just like Synopsis. This is where you can quickly manage progress in your rough draft by marking the scene or chapter with a label and updating the Status. Also, you can set whether it will be included in compiling and how it will appear in the output of a compiled version of your draft. As with Synopsis, you can collapse General Meta-Data by clicking the arrow next to it.

Document Notes: this actually represents the first button of the Inspector and its a window where you can type quick notes about a scene or chapter. You can detail what you intend to do based on changes or just so you have a guideline of what to cover as you write. You can also make notes of what you think may need to be changed as you assess the rough draft.

Document Reference: this is the second button on the Inspector bar and it appears below Synopsis and General Meta-Data just like Document Notes. This is a great place to make references for your scene or chapter whether they are internal to the project or external. If you need to link to other parts of the project for further reference of events or facts, this is the place to do that. Likewise, if you have web-based research to which you want to link for reference, you can create external links to web content based on the topic you are covering or what you need to write your fiction accurately.

Keywords: the next button over is keywords to which you can add keywords for the document if you are familiar with using this function in Scrivener. Using keywords in Scrivener is a great way to track characters, setting, POV and much more. With keywords, you can also drag these around to a variety of documents in the project. For a more lengthy discussion about keywords and their usage check Gwen Hernandez’s post on the subject.

Custom Meta-Data: the next button is for managing or customizing the Meta-Data window. You can add color labels to help you determine document status easily. You can also create custom status labels. It opens a separate window to manage the meta-data with four tabs: Labels, Status, Custom Meta-Data and Project Properties. Click the button displayed to view the window and then click each tab for explanations for what each is intended to manage. You’ll find that these can be quite handy based on your needs, even as you progress through your draft.

Snapshots: this fifth button drops Synopsis and General Meta-Data and allows you to make snapshots quickly. With snapshots you can make a quick back-up of the document in case you are about to make big changes to it. This way, if your changes are not what you want, you can roll-back to a previous version. Depending on how many changes you are making that might be drastic, you can make several snapshots. Note: snapshots are a form of backup but your project is also backed up when it is closed or when you manually back it up so this is slightly different. Snapshots are recommended when making changes when you are not certain exactly how you want to proceed. It gives you a chance to keep differing versions should you need them later. It makes a handy little fail-safe against making drastic mistakes.

Footnotes and Comments: again, you won’t see Synopsis and General Meta-Data displayed with this last button. Instead, you can add comments and footnotes to your document. The first “+” button in this tool is for comments while the middle button is for adding foot notes. The last button is for removing them. This is a handy tool for mainly non-fiction writers citing sources or adding comments to be included for readers for clarification of a topic. I don’t use this button with fiction but I’m sure there are plenty of Scrivener users writing non-fiction that do need this and it’s conveniently placed in the Inspector bar for that purpose.

That’s all for the buttons on the Inspector. Using the Inspector is an excellent way to conveniently manag your project while writing without the need to pause. You can write notes, track progress, adjust your scene and much more as you write. It’s like having tools laid-out beside you while you work on a DIY project at home or on the car. You have them and likely need them, why not start using them today?

Do you use the Inspector? If so, which of these tools do you use the most? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section and I’ll reply as soon as I’m able. Thanks for stopping by Story Empire today.

P. H. Solomon


46 thoughts on “8 Scrivener Tools That Can Help You Today

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  4. I’m a Scrivener addict. I hate working in Word now. The inspector is one of my favorite features, which is funny, because when I first tried to use Scrivener, it confounded me. These days, I have my scene summary at the top and my entire outline at the bottom, so at a glance, I can see what I should be focusing on as well as what just happened and what I’m leading toward. Customizing the characters (in the middle) is a huge bonus, too.

    Great idea to showcase the inspector, P. H.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Harmony. I must admit that I’m not consistent with all the features available but I’m constantly finding that what I don’t use is actually very handy when I start using it.


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