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How Scrivener can revolutionize the way you write your books and why it might be the only software you’ll ever need – saving you time and money and making it simple for you to create and publish your own books.

Here are just some of the great Scrivener features covered in this video:

How you can organize your manuscript, notes and research into one project in Scrivener where they are easily accessible at the click of a button.

Where to store your research, character sketches and place sketches, and where to find templates for them.

How to import your manuscript from your current writing software seamlessly, without copy – pasting, and already broken up into chapters.

How you can split your long form writing project into manageable chunks in Scrivener and re-arrange them to suit your plot.

Highlighting the different ways you can view your documents in Scrivener — One at a time or several at once as ordinary text in View Document Mode; as index cards on a cork board in Cork Board Mode; as a list style view in the Outliner Mode where you can see multiple levels of your document at the same time and as a page floating on a background image or a black screen with no distractions at all in Compose Mode. (Full Screen Mode on the Windows platform)

How easy it is to split the Scrivener screen and view 2 documents at once in any of the view modes.

Where to view your word counts and character counts and how to set word count targets.

How to track your word count targets and other meta-data such as points of view or which draft your document is currently in.

How and why you should be using the amazing Collections function when you are doing your re-writes or editing.

How you can format your own books and export them quickly and easily to multiple platforms as eBooks PDFs or paperbacks.

If, after watching this video, you decide that you would like to use Scrivener for your own writing, click on the link below  to download a 30 day free trial.  Scrivener Free Trial

Hey you guys it’s Karen here from and for those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been making a living for years now from writing books and teaching other writers how to use scrivener writing software.

I get a ton of questions all the time from people wanting to know how hard it would be to import their current writing project into scrivener  . . . how computer savvy they would need to be to use the software, how it works and all that stuff.

So in this video I am going show you how the main features of scrivener work  – by giving you some real examples. Then you  are going to see how Scrivener can save you time and money and revolutionize the way you create and publish your books.

So the basic concept behind Scrivener is dead simple. Instead of having your manuscript, notes and research scattered all over your hard drive, you get to organize them into one project where they are easily accessible at the click of a button.

Your manuscript itself can be split into large sections like Chapters or chunked down into smaller sections like scenes —  which can then be re shuffled as your project takes shape and can be viewed in multiple ways depending on how you like to work and what task you are performing at the time.

And what’s also really cool about scrivener is that when you are done writing, you don’t need to go looking for someone to format your book for you and then wait for them to do it; you can export quickly and easily to multiple platforms from right within the software. Scrivener has a cool system of compiling for export without altering the original manuscript, so you can literally bang out an eBook and immediately afterwards switch to a paperback or a PDF.

I should just mention here that this is not the kind of software that writes the book for you, or tells you how to write a book. It is word-processing software with added functionality especially designed to optimize the work process of authors, screenwriters and other people who work on long writing projects.

So lets head over to my computer screen and I’ll show you how it works.

You open up a new project and on the user interface you get three main working areas:

The left-hand sidebar which is called the Binder, is a hierarchical list of all the documents you have in your project.

At the top of it you have a folder where you store your manuscript, whether you have imported it from another application, or generated it yourself.

If you already started in another application like Word, you can open the document . . . place a hashtag at the beginning of each chapter . . . Save the document  — and then back in Scrivener you select the manuscript folder and go to File > Import > Import and split. In this section where it says Sections are separated by:  — place another hashtag.  Then, navigate to the document you just saved  . . .select it . . . and click on import . Wait a moment or two and it will import your manuscript already split up into sections, each section beginning at the place where you placed your hashtags and named whatever came immediately after your hashtag. So in this case, if I had placed my hashtags besides my chapters names, my documents would have taken on the chapter names instead of being called Chapter 1 etc.

If you are starting from scratch in Scrivener, you simply add new folders to the binder . . . call them Chapter folders and place scenes inside them.

Which ever way you start . . .once you have some Chapters with some scenes in them . . .you can re-arrange them in the binder as your plot morphs and grows.  You can move just the scenes around . . . or entire Chapters with everything inside them.

You only put documents that are part of your actual manuscript into the manuscript folder.  There are some other interesting folders on the outside of it.  The research folder for instance, can hold media documents like PDFs,  Audio, photos and even movies. You just drag and drop them into the folder from your hard drive or from the internet.

If you are on a Mac you can view a movie right inside this middle Editing section —  but if you are using the windows operating system, when you select video files from the research folder they will open in a new window. That is just the way the different systems work.

You can also add text files and folders of your own here with any other research and notes. It is extremely handy to have your research organized and accessible from right within your project.

Another useful feature is a folder in which to store your character sketches. Here you store all the information you have gathered about each character. If you are not familiar with generating your own character sketches there’s a folder a bit further down the list with templates to get you started.

You can add images to your sketches if you want, which you can view all at the same time in cork board view —  but more about that later. You have the same setup for Places. Here are some description and photo folders and here are some photos.

You can pop back any time to look up someone’s age or eye color or anything you might have forgotten about your places. You can also pop back and update your sketches as you build your characters out during the writing process.

This middle section, called the Editor, is where you do all your writing and view the contents of your files whether they be sections of your manuscript or media files you have brought in as part of your research.

In its footer bar you can zoom in on your text, see word or character counts and even set yourself word count targets by clicking on the word count target icon and filling in your preference. Now you can see your progress at a glance in the footer scrollbar.

Whatever you have selected in the Binder will show up in the editing area, so if you select one document you will only see the one. If you select several, even if they are non consecutive, you will see them stacked one below the other separated by a thin line, and if you select the whole Manuscript you will see all your scenes stacked one below the other, also separated by a thin line. You see the word count for whatever you have selected, so you can tell at a glance how many words you have in the whole manuscript.

You have several view options depending on the way you like to work. The Mode selection tool is in your toolbar by default. We already saw the normal view document mode where you see one or several documents in the editing area which you can add to and re-arrange, but if you like to plot intricately you can choose a cork board with index cards.

You then write a brief synopsis on each card to indicate what will be inside the document they represent. You can add more index cards which will open corresponding documents in the Binder. You can move the index cards around until you are happy with the order of your plot. Note that as you rearrange them, their hierarchy in the sidebar updates as well.

If you prefer to write freestyle with no distractions you can set your screen to show a nice blank page with a black background. To access your tools in this mode you just swipe your curser to the bottom of the page. There you can adjust your screen to your preferences by zooming in and out or adjusting the paper width. If you don’t mind a little distraction you can set the background to an image of your choice. Press escape (delete on a PC) to take you back to your project, then go to View > Composition Backdrop and choose an image from the drop down list which shows all the images you have on your hard drive. When you next choose Compose mode the image you chose will appear as your backdrop.

There is also a list style outliner view where you can see multiple levels of your documents at the same time. Here you can view any metadata tags you have set so that you can see things at a glance like . . . what the point of view in each scene is . . . (Here I chose to color code mine.) You can see which draft your documents are currently in . . .  or if you need to do some more research on them. You can also track your word count and progress towards that word count for each scene and a lot more.

As well as all those view modes you can split your screen in two and view either split in any of the view modes.

That is; you can place a rough outline of your plot in one screen while you write it up in another . . . or place an image or a video in one while you write it up in another . . . I am sure you think of several other ways you could use this cool feature.

In the right hand sidebar which is called the inspector you can: read the synopsis that is on the index card for your currently selected document. You can set and track status and custom metadata which you do by opening the drop down menu for labels and status stamps. Here I have set color tags to indicate my Points Of View and and stamps showing the progress of each of my documents, but in later chapters my protagonists split up so I am keeping track of where each of them is on any particular day. We don’t want one of them experiencing more days than the others before they get back together again.

You can also attach comments or notes to your documents. If you highlight a word or phrase and then choose comments or notes from your toolbar or the main menu, the correct container will open up in the inspector where you can jot down your notes. As your comment or note is now linked to that word, you only have to click on it in the binder to be taken to your note in the inspector.

Once you have written your first draft, whichever way you like to write, and you start making decisions about changes, there is a fantastic function called collections which allows you to isolate a group of documents to be processed together without moving them from their original position in the Binder. The usefulness of this will be easier to illustrate if I give you an example

Say I have decided that my character, Joe, is not fantastic enough to inspire a group of teens to actually risk their lives to rescue him. I could isolate all chapters involving Joe into a collection.This is as easy as doing a search for his name and selecting  . . .save search as collection from the drop down menu, and giving my new collection a name. Scrivener places your collection in the Binder and ghosts out what you usually see there. Now I can go through all Joe’s scenes together to see where I might inject some compelling reasons for his friends to risk their lives.  As you update the text in the collection, it updates in the original document in the binder as well as in any other collection it might be in.

This is also useful for processing all documents containing a certain accent, or documents still needing research. Once you are done processing your collection you just select the ghosted out binder label to take you back to the binder view.

There are many other wonderful features I could tell you about, like a character name generator and a way of telling if you over use a certain word, but then this presentation will take forever. Even the few I have mentioned are sure to help you plot and plan a book, accelerate your productivity and have your nicely polished manuscript ready to go in no time.

  • If your book is not picked up by a publisher jump back into Scrivener and do it yourself: it is a lot easier than you think.

With your polished manuscript in the Manuscript folder you can compile it quickly and easily for submission as a paperback or as an eBook to any of the online bookstores. You can compile them one after the other because rather than changing the formatting of the original manuscript to suit each platform you are publishing to, Scrivener sets the formatting within the compile function. The only thing you have to adjust is the front matter that will go into each compilation because this is different for hardcopy books than it is for eBooks.

There is a folder in the Binder containing the documents that make up the front matter for each platform. You choose the platform you are compiling for and replace the place holder meta data in each document with your own information.

— and in the case of your eBooks, added an internal cover to the folder. Then you open the compile function and choose what you want to format your manuscript as, (an ebook or a paperback novel) select the type of file you want to export, (print, epub — mobi) and then place a check in the front matter box and choose which front matter file you want to include from the binder.

Of course you can get a lot more sophisticated than that by tweaking the settings but if you only follow these few steps you will end up with a very professional looking book.

If you think Scrivener will make your writing life easier or if you want to streamline your projects so that you can consistently produce great content — click on the link below to be taken directly to Scrivener where you can download a 30 day free trial. It works just as well on a mac as it does on windows.

So this has been Karen from

— next time I will probably be telling you how awesome scrivener is for bloggers — until then, happy writing.