Scrivener

This is the second of at least three parts dealing with the writing program, Scrivener, created by the team at Literature & Latte.

In my last post, I discussed creating a project and the general layout of the project interface. This time I’m going to explain how the program helps to create the dreaded synopsis, and inspired me to flesh out another book that was lacking.

Our Current Test Project

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I’ve taken the liberty of adding a couple of things to our project — namely data to the first text document and a main character description. In this image you see the Binder, two text windows in the word processor (vertically split) and the Inspector.

My active window is the manuscript, not the character data, so the Inspector shows that information. If I wanted to see any additional notes on the character, I’d simply click on that window.

As I stated in my last post, the Inspector is invaluable when creating a synopsis of your novel. If you look at the toolbar, you’ll see a section called “View Mode.”

scrivener

As you can see by the image, the document icon has a dark background. Simply enough, you’re looking at the document itself in the word processor, each text document of your project with all the writing within. If you click the center icon, the bulletin board, you get this:

Corkboard

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Each scene is now an index card on a corkboard. You can click and drag them about as you like, use the settings to add or delete cards, or the options (bottom right corner) to change size, font size, how many cards across, etc.

(Another way is the View -> Corkboard Options dropdown menu.) The colors in the corner of each card are the Label colors located in your Inspector.

For those authors who prefer the Post-It Note version of outlining, this is perfect!

(And do you see the Project Notes where the Inspector is? You can put general notes there if it’s your desire. Then go to the Project -> Project Notes dropdown menu. A separate window pops up! I had no idea! I’m learning new things all the time with this thing!)

Outline View

Next we go to the tool bar and click on the far right icon of the View Mode, giving us the Outline View:

scrivener

This feature saved my butt when it came time for me to create a synopsis for Bella Books! The idea of paring a ninety thousand word manuscript down to just seven hundred fifty words seemed impossible to me. Even the threat of cleaning the bathroom toilet couldn’t get me to fire up the word processor for months…

To be fair, with this feature the original synopsis for The Strange Path ended up being fifteen hundred words. I still had to go in to cut and refine like crazy, but I at least had a distillation of the entire manuscript at hand. It was much easier than staring at a 90k monstrosity.

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