Monthly Archives: October 2014

On Scrivener: Cheat Sheet

Series map: DRAFTING ➳ GETTING ORGANIZED ➳ RESEARCH/PLANNING TOOLS ➳ REVISING ➳ CHEAT SHEET

Here are some of my favorite features + how to find them. Note: I am only familiar with the Mac version of Scrivener—I’ve heard there are some differences between the Mac and PC versions. If you’re working with the PC version, you might have to do a bit of digging to figure out the PC equivalent of these Mac shortcuts. Also, this is by no means an extensive list of Scrivener’s features! These are just the ones I use most often.

Split-screen. Click the little rectangle in the upper right corner of your document screen. You can split vertically or horizontally using: View > Layout > Split Horizontally/Split Vertically.

 The inspector column. Click the blue circle with an i in it to reveal the inspector column. The column includes a synopsis index card, a ‘general’ section where you can assign labels/statuses and other specific information, and a third section where you can choose to view project notes, document notes, keywords, snapshots, or comments/footnotes you’ve assigned. (Toggle easily between project and document notes by using Command-6 on a Mac.)

➳ Customizable labels. In the general section of the inspector column, you can customize your labels by clicking into the drop-down list and selecting edit. Double-click on the colored rectangles to choose your own color (and in the color selector, there’s a color wheel if you don’t like any of the pre-selected options). You can also customize the “Status” section, but there are no colors involved.

➳ How to color-code your binder folders/documents. After you’ve customized your labels, you’ll want to use them, of course. Right-click on any folder or document in your binder column, and you should see “Label” in your list of choices. Select it, then assign a label to it. You could also simply use the drop-down menu in the general section of the inspector. If your colors aren’t showing up in the column—or on your index card—go to View > Use Label Color In > [select all that apply]

➳ Composition mode. Click on the black icon with arrows that point diagonally—or simply go to View > Enter Composition Mode—and your document will take the spotlight, with side margins blacked out. Once in composition mode, you can make the black margins as dark or light as you want using “Background Fade” in the lower right corner. Check out the other options at the bottom of the screen, too: you can change your paper width, zoom in/out, pull up a keyword window, or pull up your document/project notes. To get out of composition mode, hit escape.

➳ Full-screen. If you have a ton of information to look at, full-screen is incredibly helpful. Click View > Enter Full Screen, and your workspace will expand. To get back out of it, use View > Exit Full Screen.

➳ Project notes/document notes. Found at the bottom of the inspector column, the project notes/document notes sections are incredibly versatile and useful. Track scene/chapter-specific notes in the document section—changes you need to make, ideas you want to write about, etc.—and big-picture notes in the project section. Toggle between these (on Mac) using Command-6.

➳ Snapshots. Snapshots are one method of saving an exact version of a scene—so useful if you’re not quite ready to commit to the changes you’re about to make. All of your snapshot options can be found under Documents > Snapshots > [choose the option that best suits your needs].

➳ Keywords. You can track pretty much anything with keywords: character appearances, issues you need to revise, etc. In the Keywords section of the inspector (found at the bottom of the inspector column—click the key icon), click the + to assign one or more keywords to a document. Later, you can pull up a list of all keywords you’ve added by going to Project > Show Project Keywords. Select which keyword you’re focusing on, click search in the bottom right, and Scrivener will pull up all scenes that have been tagged with that keyword. (To get out of the column it pulls up, so you can see your main binder list again, click the x in the bottom right of that search column.)

➳ Icons. Yet another way to label information at a glance, assign icons like stars/thought-bubbles/idea light-bulbs to the files in your binder column by right-clicking the document > Change Icon > choose.

➳ Outline mode. Found under View > Outline. Select the documents you want to appear in your outline. To customize what information you see, click the ≫ in the far right corner of the gray bar just above the outline, then check everything you need.

➳ Project targets. Set wordcount goals, and track them, using Projects > Show Project Targets. Once that window is up, click “Options” to specify which days you plan to work. You can also give yourself a deadline here. Stats automatically calculate, and you can choose when you want it to start fresh. Click “Edit” to modify your total goal number.

For the other posts in this series, check out the ‘series map’ links, above. For more information about downloading the Scrivener software itself, go here. This is not a sponsored series of posts—I simply love the product and hope to help others get as much out of it as I have.

On Scrivener: Revising

Series map: DRAFTING ➳ GETTING ORGANIZED ➳ RESEARCH/PLANNING TOOLS ➳ REVISING ➳ CHEAT SHEET

I said this before, in one of the other posts, but—for me—Scrivener shines brightest whenever I’m in full-fledged revision mode. I’ve used this method for two years now, and it’s been essential in helping me work my way through a draft in a manner that’s both thorough and efficient.

Streamlining feedback. In this post, I mentioned that I keep all feedback (my own notes + any I’ve received from critique partners/agents) in a single folder. Before I change a single word in my manuscript, I go through all my feedback documents and streamline them into a single bullet-pointed list of to-do items. I copy/paste each comment; then, in parentheses, I make note of the commenter’s initials and the corresponding chapter number. I order the comments chronologically. This might seem like a total time-suck, but it is MAGIC. This is what I like to call productive procrastination—going through the comments like this, one-by-one, gives my mind a better grasp on the landscape of the entire manuscript, the issues I need to address, and my plan of attack.

➳ Time + journal. This part of my process doesn’t use Scrivener, but it’s SO important, I couldn’t leave it out. While compiling all feedback into a list, recurring issues start to surface. Some are easy fixes, some are tricky. For the tricky ones, I take out a notebook and pen, and journal out thoughts about each issue on paper—the goal here is to make overwhelming changes feel more manageable, and to come up with concrete ideas on how to address the issue in the manuscript. It’s important (for my process, anyway) that I have these concrete ideas, my plan of attack, before making any changes to the actual manuscript.

➳ List management. I read a blog post by Veronica Roth once that touched on her method of revising, which uses “Global” and “Local” revision documents. Basically, after she compiles all feedback, she splits them into two documents: one for things that can be easily pinpointed/changed in a specific location (the “Local” document) and one for changes that will affect the manuscript as a whole (“Global” document). I’ve adopted this method, and it’s been incredibly effective! In addition to the notes in my original bullet-pointed list, I also include the solutions/concrete plan-of-attack ideas I came up with while journaling, spreading them throughout my lists according to their corresponding chapter numbers.

➳ Sections. I find it much easier to hold an entire manuscript in my head if I break it up into parts. I usually work in five sections, dividing them where it feels logical. For me, these breaks usually fall at the end of a big sequence, or at the midpoint, or just before a big shift in setting—really, you can divide them anywhere that makes sense to you. It’s basically just something I do to make the project feel less huge as I’m working my way through it. I make folders for each section in the Binder, and group all my chapter files into their appropriate folders. I also print my manuscript (two pages per sheet of paper) and divide it into the same sections. Lastly, I break my bullet-pointed to-do lists up by section, too. The goal: knock out one section at a time until there are no more sections left to knock out.

Split-screen*. I always keep my current scene open on the left side, and my to-do list open on the right. I consult the ‘global’ list briefly before starting—this helps me keep in mind the changes that aren’t so easy to cross off a list (have this character dig for more information throughout, work on the relationship dynamic between these other two characters, work on the pacing in Section II, etc.). The ‘local’ list is the one I keep open most of the time.

One chapter at a time. Making changes on any given chapter entails the following, for me:

Consult ‘global’ list so I can keep my eye out for places to work in those changes.

Consult ‘local’ list for the specific things that need consideration—typos, confusing wording, issues of logic, anything else that’s been pointed out. Even if you’re not sure you agree with the feedback, this is the time to consider it.

Read the chapter on paper, with purple/orange/pink pen in hand. I make changes on paper first, for the entire chapter.

➳ Make changes in Scrivener based on my on-paper changes. There are two reasons I make changes on paper first. One: it’s good to get the feel for the entire chapter before changing things—I sometimes make a change and find, four paragraphs later, something that renders my tweaks problematic. This way, I can scratch things out over and over on paper, rewrite—then I’ll be confident the file is clean when I go to put the changes in on Scrivener. The other reason: it’s an opportunity to double-edit the work, adjusting with tiny tweaks as I type in the changes.

➳ Check things off—this is super satisfying for me. After I’ve input all the changes in my Scrivener file, I draw a huge check mark through my on-paper page. Then, I go through and color-code…um…everything.

➳ Color-coding*. Every chapter/folder starts out red (my color for ‘to-do’), and every item on my bullet-pointed list starts out black. When I’ve tackled all the comments for any given chapter, I turn the list’s comments gray and then change the chapter file to green (good-to-go) or orange (re-read this) or pink (this still needs tiny tweaks, but I’m not sure how to fix them, and I’m saving them for later). Once all the chapters in a section folder are green, I turn the entire file green and consider it done. I work, systematically, through all of my comments on all my lists, until I’m confident I’ve addressed everything as thoroughly as possible.

➳ Follow-up list. Sometimes, after much consideration, I’m still uncertain about whether or not to take action on a to-do list item. Or, I’ve stared at the chapter for an hour, made changes, and I’m too tired/familiar to be able to tell if the changes are actually working. In both cases, time away + fresh eyes = a world of difference. I make follow-up notes in a new list, then make sure to go back and tackle them before I call a draft good-to-go.

There are lots of other useful ways to use Scrivener—snapshots* and keywords* come to mind—but these are the bones of my process. I sprinkle in the other features as needed, but ultimately, it’s amazing how much of my revision process can be boiled down to lists, split-screen, and color-coding.

And, of course, there are as many methods for revisions as there are writers—this is just what works well for me, and I thought it’d be worth sharing in case anyone out there is similarly wired. I’d love, too, to hear how others make Scrivener work for their processes, so feel free to leave a comment if you’ve found a method you LOVE!

Happy writing and revising, all!

For the other posts in this series, check out the ‘series map’ links, above. For more information about downloading the Scrivener software itself, go here. This is not a sponsored series of posts—I simply love the product and hope to help others get as much out of it as I have.

*More information on this term in the CHEAT SHEET post

On Scrivener: Research/Planning Tools

Series map: DRAFTING ➳ GETTING ORGANIZED ➳ RESEARCH/PLANNING TOOLSREVISING ➳ CHEAT SHEET

The manuscript itself isn’t the only thing to have organized in your workspace: Scrivener is also a wonderful place to keep any research, inspirational photos, miscellaneous project notes, or revision notes you’ve accumulated along the way. Any given Scrivener workspace of mine includes the following:

➳ Brainstorming. You can make a whole folder, or just a single file, for any brainstorming you need to do. That way, you can keep related ideas all in one place.

➳ Images. You can organize any inspirational images you need—screenshots or photos of your characters/settings/etc, reference diagrams, maps, etc—and then use the split-screen* function to keep the file open while you’re working on a particular scene.

➳ Research. Likewise, if you’ve done some research, you can either copy/paste the most pertinent info into files (and label them accordingly), or you can import the web page itself. (File > Import > Web Page)** Split screen is also helpful here—open your research in one half, and the scene in the other. Then, you won’t have to toggle between them constantly.

➳ Cut scenes. I have a whole folder of things I’ve cut, but am not sure I’m completely ready to trash. Organizing them into a folder, and neatly labeling what they are/where I pulled them from, is helpful later on if I decide I need to work the information back in somewhere.

➳ Old drafts. I make a folder for each draft along the way and put everything in it—that version of the manuscript, along with all revision notes and to-do lists. That way I have a record of every draft I’ve completed, but can keep my workspace clean and organized. (I use Word whenever I send drafts to readers/my agents, and I sometimes do last-minute tweaking there for typos and other small things. For that reason, I always copy/paste my most recent Word file into Scrivener, then divide/organize it to turn it into the next working draft.)

➳ Follow-up lists. As I revise, I’ll sometimes make notes to myself—”Does chapter blah blah feel too draggy? Re-read!” or “I changed Evan’s name to Connor—do a sweep through the manuscript to make sure I caught every instance of this!” If I track everything I’m even slightly concerned about, all in one place, I can trust that my end result will be thorough and clean. (And that I can really trust myself when I’ve marked something as green/good-to-go.)

➳ Revision notes. Every draft has a dedicated folder for any feedback I’ve received. I make a separate file for each set of notes, whether they are notes I wrote for myself or notes I’ve received from my beta readers. I use purple to color-code all revision/feedback files, and title them clearly (AMANDA EMAIL / ALISON CHAT / JASMINE NOTES).

Next up in the series: how I use all of this to actually revise.

For the other posts in this series, check out the ‘series map’ links, above. For more information about downloading the Scrivener software itself, go here. This is not a sponsored series of posts—I simply love the product and hope to help others get as much out of it as I have.

*More information on this term in the CHEAT SHEET post

**I am only familiar with the Mac version of Scrivener—I’ve heard there are some differences between the Mac and PC versions. If you’re working with the PC version, you might have to do a bit of digging to figure out the PC equivalent of these Mac shortcuts.

On Scrivener: Getting Organized

Series map: DRAFTING ➳ GETTING ORGANIZEDRESEARCH/PLANNING TOOLSREVISING ➳ CHEAT SHEET

Scrivener really shines, in my opinion, when it comes to all things revision. But before you dive into revision, it’s helpful to get everything organized. It does take a bit of time to set up your workspace, but in my experience, the time has been worth it. (Just make sure you don’t get stuck in workspace-organization mode—this is a means to an end, and you definitely don’t have to make use of every feature!)

Here are some ways you can use Scrivener to get organized:

Split into separate files. It’s at the revision point when I finally split my manuscript into separate files. (Yours might already be split, if you chose that method while drafting.) When my chapters are consistently made up of a single scene, I do chapter-by-chapter splits. For projects where the chapters are made up of multiple scenes, I split it scene-by-scene, then group those into chapter folders. (Sometimes the chapter folders come later, because it isn’t always clear which scenes should be grouped together at such an early stage.)

➳ Revision color system. I have my labels* set up so that I can mark files as red (to-do), pink (only tiny tweaks left), orange (re-read before calling it good-to-go)(particularly helpful when I’ve bruised my brain for hours and can’t see straight anymore—it might be done, but I can’t tell until I have fresh eyes), and green (good to go).

Status. If you’re working with more than one set of categorization—say you want to keep track of revision progress *and* be able to see your POV narrators at a glance—you could use color-coded labels for one of these categories, then use the “status” drop-down in the Inspector for the other category. (Go to View > Corkboard Options > Show Stamps to make your status appear as a stamp on your index card.**)

➳ Numbering system. On some projects, I’ve used a numbering system—this is super helpful for times when you need to shuffle scenes around, but aren’t ready to commit to the new order. When I do this, I title each file “CHAPTER NUMBER:SCENE NUMBER”. (For example, four chapters comprised of nine scenes might look like this—1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 2:4, 2:5, 3:6, 4:7, 4:8, 4:9) That way, if you’re unhappy with the changes, you can easily replace the scenes in their original order.

➳ Icons*. This is another way of labeling items at a glance—I assign stars/lightbulbs/check marks to many of my files. They can mean whatever you want them to mean, just be consistent in using them if you want them to be effective.

Once my manuscript is divided, color-coded, and labeled to my satisfaction—the writer’s version of a chef’s mise en place—my workspace is set up for surgery revision.

For the other posts in this series, check out the ‘series map’ links, above. For more information about downloading the Scrivener software itself, go here. This is not a sponsored series of posts—I simply love the product and hope to help others get as much out of it as I have.

*More information on this term in the CHEAT SHEET post

**I am only familiar with the Mac version of Scrivener—I’ve heard there are some differences between the Mac and PC versions. If you’re working with the PC version, you might have to do a bit of digging to figure out the PC equivalent of these Mac shortcuts.

On Scrivener: Drafting

Scrivener—as any of my writer friends will tell you—is a tool that’s proven *incredibly* helpful to my writing process. After using it for several years, I’ve developed a system that works really well for me. I’ve shared this system enough times now (rather passionately)(thank you, patient friends!) that it seemed fitting to do a blog series on it.

Series map: DRAFTING ➳ GETTING ORGANIZED ➳ RESEARCH/PLANNING TOOLS ➳ REVISING ➳ CHEAT SHEET

Whether you’re a pantser, a plotter, or a hybrid of those (*hybrid fistbump*), you can use Scrivener to your advantage. Here are some of my favorite ways to use the software while drafting:

For when you just want to write the thing. For first drafts, I love composition mode*. It’s basically like drafting in a single Word document, but with the rest of the screen blacked out. This helps me feel less distracted by everything else in the background. Also, in the bar across the bottom, you can pull up your inspector window*, which lets you easily see your notes for the scene/project. There’s also a word-count display on that bar at the bottom. (And that display bar disappears unless you roll over it.) I use a single file when I just want to get lost in a story, then split it into separate files (by chapter, usually) when I transition into revision mode.

But if you’re an outliner… you could figure out how many scenes you’ll need, based on your total word count goal, then go ahead and make separate, empty files for each of them in your notebook. With this method, you’d write planning notes to yourself on the index cards, then fill in the actual scenes whenever you’re ready to write them.

Or, if you have specific ideas for structure… Here, you do the same thing as in the last point—split into separate, empty files based on your word count goals—but it isn’t necessary to know your entire outline up front. This works well for hybrid writers who are drafting toward specific turning points (“CONTEXT-SHIFTING MIDPOINT!” / “INCITING INCIDENT” / etc.) in the manuscript, but like to discover the details as they go along. This is also a useful method if you’re working in multiple POV and have a specific narrator structure in mind—use character names as file titles, then fill in the scene when you’re ready.

Word count/progress bar. Scrivener’s project targets* feature is one of my favorite things about the software. As a hybrid writer who drafts toward specific turning points, it’s very important for me to know where I am in the draft, word-count-wise. On top of that, I simply looooove having tools that show me great information on how I’m doing compared to my daily/overall goals. (I love it so much, in fact, that my husband created a goal-tracking website—we launched the beta site for it earlier this year, if you are likewise motivated by progress bars/charts!)(http://www.mywriteclub.com/beta)

The wonderful thing about Scrivener: no matter which drafting method you prefer, its features provide a versatile workspace that’s bound to work for your process.

For the other posts in this series, check out the ‘series map’ links, above. For more information about downloading the Scrivener software itself, go here. This is not a sponsored series of posts—I simply love the product and hope to help others get as much out of it as I have.

*More information on this term in the CHEAT SHEET post

Tagged

A new place to land.

After blogging—and not blogging—for several years over at my previous little corner of the web, it feels like it’s time for a change. I may not post often, but wanted to have a fresh place to land whenever I do.

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