An Introduction to Scrivener 3

This is everything you need to know to get up and running with Scrivener 3 in ten minutes. This training is provided by Literature & Latte, creators of Scrivener.

Transcript: Hello, I’m Keith Blount the creator of Scrivener. In this video, I’m going to show you how easy it is to use Scrivener for your writing, and how it’s useful for working on long documents. First, let’s fire up Scrivener and create a new project.

To create a new project, go to file, new project, you’ll see I’m presented with a window that allows me to choose from different project templates. There are templates for novels, scripts, academic writing, and more. Here, I’m going to choose blank, which will create an empty project without any template information.

Now, I choose where to save my project. It’s up to you where you keep your Scrivener projects so be sure to pick somewhere you’ll remember. Once that’s done, Scrivener’s main project window appears and I’m ready to start writing. On the left here there’s a list showing all the documents in the project, we call this the Binder because it acts like a ring binder, you throw into it everything you need to get your writing done.

Not just the writing itself, but also research, notes, and anything else you want to refer to. I can go ahead and start writing in the editor. You can format your text however you want using the familiar tools in the format bar above the editor or by using the menus or keyboard shortcuts. If you prefer writing on virtual pages, you can switch to page view. I like working with page view turned off though.

One of the key ideas behind Scrivener is that it’s easier to work on a long text if you break it down into smaller more manageable chunks. It’s entirely up to you how large or small those chunks are, you could divide your work up into chapters, scenes, paragraphs, arguments, or anything else. Here I’ve written one short section and I now want to create another. To do so, I click on the Add button and I get another blank document beneath whatever was selected in the binder.

I can add a title and now I’m ready to start typing out my new section. Actually, you know what, I’ve realized that this section would work better as two separate sections, that’s easy to fix. I just put my cursor where I want to split it and go to documents, split at selection. Not only that, I’ve also realized what the section I split off would be more effective if it came first, that’s easy to fix too. I just drag and drop it into place in the binder.

Talking of the binder, let’s take a quick look at it. Note that every Scrivener project contains three folders that are always there. You can add as many folders as you want, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but these folders are special. The draft folder is the most important, this is where you create your actual manuscript or text. All the different sections in this folder can be printed or exported as a single long document. We’ll see how soon.

Supporting material that’s not part of the manuscript, you can place in the research folder. You can put pretty much anything in here; PDF files, images, notes, anything you need to reference while working on your project. In fact, I have a couple of files that I know I’m going to need to refer to later, so I think I’ll bring those in now. Over in the finder, I have a PDF file containing some information about a town I’ll be writing about and a photo of one of the town’s landmarks, I’ll just drag those into my research folder like so.

The Trash folder stores any documents that you have deleted from a project. They stay there until you delete them permanently by choosing to empty the trash. Incidentally, you can rename any of these three folders and the draft folder is titled manuscript in some of the project templates. You can always recognize them from their special icons though.

To move between the sections of my project what I need to do is select the section in the binder to open it in the editor. If I want to block out the rest of my screen while I write, I can click on the full-screen composition button. Once I finish, I just hit escape to return to the main window.

Okay, I’ve written a few sections now. My initial plan was that each of these sections would be a single short chapter, but I’ve changed my mind. I now think that for this book it would be better to have several sections in each chapter. For this, I’m going to arrange them into folders.

To create a new folder, I just click on the add folder button. The new folder will be created below whatever is selected in the binder, I’ll give it a name and drag it where I want. Now I’m going to drag some sections inside it, I’ll do the same for my other sections, you can structure your writing however you want even nesting folders inside folders. I’m happy with the way this is organized though.

Breaking things down into small sections is a great way of working on a long document, but what if you want to work on a complete chapter or even the whole manuscript to get a feel for how it flows? In Scrivener this is easy and we call it Scrivenings mode. All I need to do is click on the draft folder in the binder, and then change the editor to scrivenings mode which is this icon in the toolbar. Now the editor shows me all the sections in my manuscript as though they were part of a single text.

I can show titles using view, text editing, show titles and scrivenings. I can type and edit my sections here just as I can when viewing them individually. Clicking on a folder shows the sections inside that folder. Wait, I’ve just realized that there are some details I need to check but I don’t have time right now, for this I think I’ll set up a little area in my project where I can make notes to myself.

I’ll create a new folder and place it above the research folder. I’ll name it ‘’to-do.’’ Using documents, change icon, I’ll give it a custom icon too so it’s easy to pick out, and now I’ll add my note to it.

Great, now I can return to my writing, happy that I won’t forget to check these details later. I now need to refer to some of that research I imported earlier, this is simple I just click this button in the header bar to split the editor in two. Holding down option or alt when I click, switches between a vertical and horizontal split.

To load my research, I just click into the editor in which I want to show it and then I click on the research document in the binder. Alternatively, I can just drag the research onto the header bar of the editor I want to load it in. I can also load different text sections in the other editor so I can refer to other parts of my project as I write. To close this bit, I click on the button header again.

I’ve now reached a point in my project where I’ve realized it would help to plan it out a little more, for this I’m going to use Scrivener structural tools. First I’ve got an idea for a section that I need to write later, but I don’t know exactly where it fits yet. For this I’m going to create a new document in the draft, but for now I’m going to leave a text blank, instead I’m going to open the inspector by pressing on this blue disc icon and in the index card on the top here, I’m going to write a short summary of what this section is going to be about that way I’ll know what I need to write later.

I can use the notes area beneath the index card to jot down anything else I need to remember when I come to write this section. I think I’ll put this into an unplaced sections folder for now. Every document in a Scrivener project has a synopses index card like this associated with it. Synopses can be used to work with a higher level overview of your manuscript. To see what I mean, let’s look at some of the sections in the first folder now that the inspector is open, I haven’t added a synopsis for any of these sections because I wrote them without any planning.

If I want, I can always add a synopsis after writing a section though. I don’t have to do this, but it makes it easier to get an overview. For example, let’s add a synopsis to this section. Now if I select my folder containing these sections and click on the corkboard icon in the toolbar, the editor switches to corkboard mode. In corkboard mode, you can see the index cards that are associated with the sections inside the folder.

So, on this index card you can see the synopsis I just typed out, I haven’t added any synopses for other sections in this folder. So the index cards for those just show the first lines of a text. The corkboard gives me a great overview of everything that’s in this folder, in this case, it shows me a summary of my chapter. I can edit the synopsis by double-clicking into the cards, and I can rearrange the sections by dragging them around on a corkboard. Looking at this overview I’ve realized that I need to add another section to fill in some details, I can do this right in my cork board by clicking the Add button. This creates an index card that represents a new blank document inside the folder.

I’ll add a synopsis of what I intend to be in this section which I’ll write later. When I’m ready to write it, all I need to do is click on the section in the binder, and I can see from the index card in the inspector what I need to write. The corkboard is one great way of working with an overview of your manuscript, Scrivener’s outliner is another.

If I click on the first folder again and this time click on the outliner icon in the toolbar, the editor switches to outliner mode. Like the corkboard, the outliner shows me titles and synopses of the sections in my project. I can view a lot more information in the outliner though, or I can keep it simple.

If I click on the draft folder, I now have an overview of my entire manuscript. I can edit titles and synopses, create stubs for new sections I need to write later, create new folders, and reorganize until I’m happy that my manuscript has the most effective structure and reading order.

Whether you use these features to plan out your whole manuscript before you begin to write, or as editing tools later in the process is entirely up to you. Well, I’ve been working on this book for a while now, it’s time I shared it with someone.

For this, I use the Compile feature. This will take everything I’ve written in the draft folder and stitch it together into a single exported file or print out. I can create all sorts of files including Word documents and eBooks, but right now I’m just going to send it to a friend as a PDF file so she can give me some feedback.

I choose how I want the manuscript to look using these options on the left. For sharing with my friend, I’m going to choose the modern format. Now I just tell Scrivener how the parts of my manuscript should look.

I want groups to be shown as chapter titles, and text sections to appear with breaks between them. In your own projects, you might have all sorts of different groups and text sections which all need formatting differently. That’s easily done but we won’t get into that here. Now I just compile and have a nicely formatted PDF file ready to share with my friend.

And that’s really everything you need to know to make effective use of Scrivener. I hope that this video has given you a good idea of how you can use Scrivener with your own projects and that you’re ready to get writing.

Thanks for watching!