18 November, 2013

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

Well, it seems my optimism about being finished with revisions was just that: optimism.  Agent has requested more changes before she'll consider offering a contract.  But that's okay, with Scrivener, the problem areas will be simple to find and the changes quick (I hope) to make.

As I noted in my first blog of this subject, I've customized Scrivener to work the way I work.  After all, what's the point of using a tool you have to fight with all the time? Last time I showed you my Binder and Corkboard. They give me a macro-view of where I am.  Further customizing the Corkboard and the project notes give me the micro-view.

I've added additional keywords for the various red herrings sprinkled throughout the mystery.  Adding these to the Corkboard allows me to see how many I have, where, and whether or not I've tied them up. I've also added a hot pink tab to track the growing romance between protag and hunky cop.  Any scene with even a hint of sexual attraction gets a pink marker.

The arrows show where I've planted a red herring and have one scene where the protag at least thinks about her sometime-in-the-future boyfriend.  If those colours don't appear again, I know I have unfinished business.

The first keyword I add to each card is "scene" or "sequel."  Since I have a tendency to skip the sequels, I now have a visual cue: black for scene, white for sequel.  In addition, I use the the project notes to make sure each fills its designated role.

For scenes, the notes spell out the goal, conflict and outcome.

For sequels, the reaction, dilemma, and decision.

The second marker on every card denotes the day of the week.  This comes in helpful when I lose what day things happen--just like in real life.

Some people may prefer to use keywords to track which characters appear in scenes, or where the scene takes place.  That's the great thing: how you use keywords is up to you.

As a writer, I belong to the pantser party, but that doesn't mean I don't need a bit of a roadmap.  I like the 4 Act structure, so I include this very brief plot outline in my binder.  That way, if I get lost in my pantser wanderings, I can use the split screen to see where I thought I was going (even though I'm now no where near there).

Here, my manuscript is on top and my 4x3 plot structure below.

And finally, for fellow graduates of Margie Lawson's EDITS classes, you can colour code right within Scrivener!
Hows that for a one-size fits all writing program?

So that's how I use Scrivener.  Any converts? Any helpful hints? Leave me a comment - I love to discover new tricks!


  1. Great, Tiger. How do you add the arrow?

    1. Sorry, Edith, not in Scrivener (not yet....) Used Paint to simply "highlight" my point :-))

  2. Tiger -- I'm just starting to use Scrivner (I've had it on my computer for awhile, but had been putting off really digging in). Your blog is very helpful -- thank you!

  3. For a pantser, you seem terribly organized! LOL

    I've tried using some of Scrivener's features to organize things but so far haven't found anything that's useful to me. Mostly, I get distracted by all the colors and things. So far, I'm sticking to a minimalist approach.

    And, as far as highlighting for the EDITS system in Scrivener, I like working on paper there. There's something about having that physical piece of paper that works better for me. I also have a tendency to write in the margins a lot, which isn't quite the same as using the notes function in Scrivener.

    Thanks for sharing how you work with Scrivener. At the least, it's given me some things to think about. At most, I might try some more of your techniques.