10 October, 2013

Fiction Friday: Teaching an Old Writer New Tricks w/ Scrivener

The last round of revisions are finished and querying has begun, so now's the time to start writing the NEXT mystery. Want to make sure it's ready when I sign that elusive three-book deal. LOL.

Like many Guppies and other writers, I've made the transition to Scrivener.  After taking Gwen Hernandez's class last year, I decided I was ready.  I imported my first draft into Scrivener, broke it up into chapters and scenes, and just went for it.  I loved writing in Scrivener, but I was only using a fraction of the program's features.

Now, with a blank slate to work from, I'm determined to take advantage of Scrivener's power. I'll be posting blogs, at irregular intervals, chronicling my successes and failures.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Scrivener expert and what works for me may not work for you. . . or anyone else.

By the time I'd completed the final draft of my manuscript I had the basis for a template for the proposed series. That includes folders of potential plots, weapons and poisons, red herrings and twists, as well as complete character sketches, photos of my characters and links to useful sites.
This is what the template binder looks like:
To get started, I created made a copy of my project, deleted all the text, emptied the trash, and then created a template.  From there, I simply started a new project based on the series template.  So far, so good.

In the world of plotters and pantsers, I'm a hybrid.  I like a very loose outline from which I can ad lib.  Scrivener has everything I need for this.  Based on a handout from Gwen's class, I started modifying Scrivener to suit my personal plotting and writing style.

My mysteries have a primary plot, one or two secondary plots, and an on-going romantic plot.
I'm using labels to keep track of the various plots.

This will allow me to see, at a glance in the Binder, whih files relate to which plot, as shown below.

I'm using the labels to show me where within the plot the scene falls.  So far I'm using crisis, red herring, and clue as labels.

This allows me to use keywords for several purposes, including the time line since I inevitably lose track of what day everything happens. I set my options to show the keywords down the side of my index cards. I'm sure I'll be adding additional keywords as I go along.

So here's the beginning of my plot in the Corkboard:

Come back to visit next week to see how I tweak my settings! And leave me any helpful hints you've picked up along the way.


  1. Great to see your process! I've been using Scrivener since the start of Sept, which coincided with the start of a book. I use the secondary labels for setting, and keywords for characters. I like your use of Clue, Crisis, and Red Herring, though.

  2. The corkboard looks a lot like what I used to do with Power Point. I loved the color coding and headers with that. I like your categories, too, Clue, Crisis, Red Herring. My spreadsheet with multiple tabs works so well for me, I doubt I'll change, but it's good to see such a useful product for writers.

  3. Interesting! Thanks for sharing. I'll be watching to see how it goes.


  4. I love to see how different writers use Scrivener. I love it, but I haven't used color coding yet. I think I'll check it out now!

    The thing that I love best about Scrivener is having the top 2/3 of my screen for writing, and the bottom 1/3 for my outline notes -- either as notecards or text. That way I can easily make sure I'm on track plus move things around when my characters refuse to follow the outline ;)