How to Begin Using Scrivener

Hello to all the Story Empire readers. PH here today, getting ready for Thanksgiving! No, this isn’t a themed post. Instead, I’m here to help anyone out there who needs a start with Scrivener and just can’t figure out what to do with it.

I’ve seen several comments from other writers over the last few years which indicates they have Scrivener but just didn’t know where to begin. I understand the feeling. When I first started with Scrivener there was so much to learn and I needed to do other work that I didn’t have time to learn it. It wasn’t until I read several posts in which other authors described how they used Scrivener that I began to understand its power.

Why the confusion and reluctance in engaging with Scrivener?

It is fundamentally different from just using a text editor. It is a robust development software for an entire writing project. We’re used to just sitting down and typing in Word all the things that we are developing, creating any number of files and trying to track all the details somehow. But once you develop a project in Scrivener or convert an existing project into it you begin to understand just what you can do and how it benefits you. The important point is to take the time to learn the software somehow.  There are great how-to videos as well as lots of reading material that help with Scrivener. It also comes with an interactive tutorial you can easily access by clicking on Help, then Interactive Tutorial.

But why start using it today? There’s no time like the present to make the transition. If you have a writing project that needs starting why not make that the point where you begin learning Scrivener? Why else should you begin in the middle of a busy schedule? You will learn through usage and then understand the power the design of this software brings to writers. Here’s 5 good reasons to make the change from Michael Hyatt.

Where to Start

It’s as easy as this: Open Scrivener and click File => New Project to show the New Project Window. Here’s a screenshot with the built-in Fiction template selected:

Scriv New Proj

Choose the category for your writing on the left and then what it will be on the right. It’s not pictured here, but below all this just type in the name of your project and then browse to the folder on your computer where you will store the project just like in Word. Click the save button and you have a new project ready to go.

What Next?

The main two features to understand in Scrivener are the Editor and the Binder. The Editor has much the same feel as any other popular word processing software so this is a familiar place to start. The features are similar in the most basic way so anyone can start typing words into a document and make progress quickly. Seriously, it’s not that different in nature to what you use that it will keep you from writing. It’s all the other development tools that really bolster your writing and those can be learned as you go.

The Binder is a feature which appears on the left of the Editor. It can be turned off and on from the View menu. Slide your cursor to Layout and click the check-mark off or on at Binder. What appears is a graphical interface that allows you to add folders and documents to your project by right-clicking on the project and choosing what you want to create. You can click and hold a folder or document to move it around. The Binder is simple and allows you to manage the structure of your project in a way that’s easy to see.

What else should you learn? After you’ve understood the Editor and Binder, learn more about  how to manage projects, project templates and document templates. Just knowing what you can do with these elements gets you much further along. Try to find authors who write what you do and find out how they use it. Once I found how other fantasy authors use Scrivener to develop and track details of a fantasy world it really helped me develop and track my projects better. Likewise, other bloggers who use Scrivener have developed templates for organizing your whole blogging year. It’s a bigger scope creative tool but it makes writing much simpler by allowing you to spend more time being creative.

What keeps you from trying Scrivener? What ways do you want to improve your writing process? Leave your thoughts and reactions in the comments section and I’ll reply as soon as I can.

Please note that I cannot support licensing issues or software errors so please contact the software vendor, Literature & Latte for those kinds of inquiries.

P. H. Solomon

40 thoughts on “How to Begin Using Scrivener

  1. Pingback: Author Inspiration and Last Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

  2. I started using Scrivener two years ago, thanks to you, P.H. I still have a lot to learn, but it’s handy having everything I need for a project in one place. Research, notes, outlines, art and photos are a click away. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the intro to Scrivener, P.H. I’m saving this as my starting point to get to know the program. I have time off next week and hope to experiment with it. My current WIP is in Word, but I may try using Scrivener to make notes on my next project. That will be my starting point.

    I shared your post through Triberr and had someone comment there that they have been using Scrivener for a year now and would never go back to Word. That seems to be the consensus among those who use it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I quit Scrivener for about a year (maybe more) when I bought it. It confused me. Then I took a video course, figured out the basics, and hit the ground running. I’d never switch back now. It’s so convenient and powerful. And I make little tweaks all the time that make things even better for me. Can’t recommend it enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks, PH. I always appreciate your posts on Scrivener. I use the editor and the binder all the time. I also love importing webpages from my research. Recently, I started using the project targets tool as well, which is great for seeing my daily word count and when I’ve met it, as well as the overall novel word count. There is still so much about Scrivener I need to learn, and it comes down to time. I have two templates for novels … one for print compilation (PDF) and one for mobi (Kindle) to save me having to remember the settings every time, lol. I also use the Synopsis box on the top right-hand-side for jotting scene summary sentences so I can see at a glance what that chapter contains.


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