Scrivener’s Scratch Pad

Quite often  when I’m writing a scene I’ll think of something I need to add to a different scene, or an idea for something later on. I used to keep a pad of paper next to the computer for moments like that, but Scrivener has a built-in scratch pad just for this purpose. To bring up the scratch pad, press Ctrl Shift /. Once you’ve got notes on the scratch pad, they can be copied into other scrivener files. This video shows the scratchpad in action.

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Quick note here – this video was created using Scrivener for Windows. If the shortcut is different on a Mac, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Combined Text View in Scrivener

When I write in Scrivener, I typically break chapters out into smaller scenes. When I want to see how these scenes flow together, I can roll them up into a single view via a feature called Combined Text. This lets you select a series of scenes and view them as if they were one continuous document. This short video shows that feature in action.
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Using Snapshots in Scrivener

Sometimes, you’ll write a scene, make changes to it, and then later decide that the original scene was better. When I was writing in Word and this happened, I used to copy the scene and paste it into a separate document. Then I could make changes in the original doc and if I later decided my first scene was better, I could re-copy the scene back in. This got to be a pain, especially when a scene went through multiple incarnations; I’d end up with four or five different files that all corresponded to slightly different flavors of the same scene. I wound up with a folder with files named things like Chapter2Version1CharactersGoForIceCream,Chapter2Version2CharactersGoForDonuts, Chapter2Version3CharactersGoForThaiFood, you get the idea.

Luckily, Scrivener has a built-in feature called Snapshots that manages this process for you. Let’s say you’ve got a scene that you want to tweak, but you want to be able to go back to the original version. Just press Ctrl+D, and you’ll hear a camera shutter sound effect. Then, click on the Snapshots button on the lower right toolbar to see a list of Snapshots associated with the current scene. You can create as many Snapshots as you want for a particular scene, and then restore a scene to a previous version by clicking the Roll Back button.

This short video shows Snapshots in action. Enjoy!
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Tracking Progress in Scrivener

When I was writing the first novel in my series, I wanted to track how much progress I’d made toward my target word count. As mentioned in a previous post, I was shooting for 80,000 words. Each time I finished a writing session, I’d jot down how many words I’d written, add that to the total number of words I’d written so far, and then divide that number by 80,000. While this worked well, it was a manual and tedious process. Then I found Scrivener, which can calculate that for you.

(Note: I’m using Scrivener for Windows, so things may be in slightly different places or have different keystroke combos if you’re on another OS.)

There are three Project menu items that can give you more information about your WIP: Project Statistics, Text Statistics, and Project Targets.

Project>Project Statistics (or Ctrl-Shift-T)  –  This gives you the total word and page count of your draft in Scrivener, and provides some options for configuring how those values are calculated.

Project>Text Statistics (or Ctrl-Alt-T) – This  gives you the total word and page count of the currently selected Text item in Scrivener.

Project>Project Targets (or Ctrl-T) – This is the big one. This allows you to specify how many words your WIP should be. As you write more, Scrivener updates both a numerical value and a progress bar so you can see exactly how far along you are. It also provides a Session Target, which allows you to say “I want to write 500 words this sitting” and then Scrivener will track how much you’ve done. Warning – don’t press the Reset button until you’ve finished your  session! Pressing Reset wipes out any progress you’ve made toward today’s Session Target. So if you start out thinking you’ll write 500 words, and then decide you want to increase it to 750, just change the number, don’t press Reset. The Session Target will be recalculated for you automatically.

The Project Targets dialog in Scrivener

All in all, this is a great way to measure your progress, and it sure beats doing the calculations by hand.



Distraction Free Scrivener

I’ve been working with Scrivener since Literature& Latte announced the Windows Beta late last year. It’s an awesome program and has made it very easy for me to organize my current WIP. However, like most tools, there’s a lot going on in its UI, and sometimes that can be distracting when you’re trying to bang out a scene. To help me focus, I customized Scrivener’s Full Screen view so it’s more like an old school word processor – black background and green text. This short video shows the steps I performed.
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One thing to note – the video shows some lines at the top and edges of the screen after these changes have been made. Those lines aren’t actually visible in Scrivener while you’re using it.

If you’d like to try out Scrivener for Windows, head on over here.