On Scrivener: Research/Planning Tools


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.


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