Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Scrivener – first steps

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Scrivener (software)

So, how’s my life after ten days of Scrivener?
Not very different from before – I’ve still got bills to pay, I’m still looking for a day job and I’ve still a lot of stuff to write.
But at least on the writing side, things are taking an interesting turn.

Let’s see.
Scrivener for Linux installed without problem – I got the 64 bit, .deb file, and it runs on my old Ubuntu machine quite smoothly.
The tutorial was a breeze – fun, clear, and fast: I spent one afternoon going through it, and it set me up nicely to start working straight away.
On the down side, the available user’s handbook (which comes as part of the Help function) is incomplete, parts of it still being written.
This is a pity.

Anyway – the interface is pretty easy to customize, and the structural approach to writing suits me. As it usually happens, the best way to learn the ropes is try first hand to do something.
I’m currently working on two projects under Scrivener.
Very easy, very basic, but interesting.

Screenshot from 2014-08-18 22:09:47The first is an adventure story – a 10.000-words job I hope to have finished by the end of this week.
I already had a detailed outline, character sketches (calling them profiles would be too much) and about 1000 words.
I imported the lot into Scrivener – setting up a folder for Characters and a main Draft folder with 10 “chapters” of 1000 words each.
Using the corkboard, I tied each 1000-words chunk with an item in the outline. As I do revisions and things, I can move chunks about, and arrange the sequence of events and scenes for best effect.
Extra text can be plugged in when necessary.
This is working nicely as an approach to produce a first draft fast and staying focused.

Note to self: for future project, use a more detailed outline, and break the 10.000 words story into thirty 300-words blocks or scenes, allowing some margin.
It would probably be faster.

I also imported much of my background research in a folder aptly labelled “Research” – photo references, articles, the works.

The second project is in its embryonic stage, and is an attempted series of stories featuring arecurring cast.
Here too I had a general overview of the series, a few tag-lines, and a list of characters with sketches.
Here the set-up is somewhat different – I have a main folder for the series, with sub-folders for each story, stories being broken into scenes as suitable.
There’s a big folder with characters bios and photos and stuff – and so we discover a new use for the corkboard.

Screenshot from 2014-08-18 22:10:17

Finally there’s a big fat folder for research, with a subfolder for general stuff, and different folders for research specific for each story.
While the lot seems to be very complicated, I set it up in about two hours, working slowly and taking notes.
Because, considering the scarcity of documentation on the use of Scrivener, why not take notes and then publish a little survival guide?

In the next few days, I’ll have to start toy with tags and keywords – because they are a powerful tool, and it would be foolish not to use’em.
But right now, after ten days of experimentation, I must say I’m quite happy with the results.

I’ll keep you posted.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

One thought on “Scrivener – first steps

  1. Pingback: 5 Tools Everyone Writing Adventure Stories Should Be Using | Karavansara

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