Scratching the Surface of Scrivener

I really wanted to write a post about Scrivener. Why? Because I love it and I want to tell the world.

It is the best writing program I have ever encountered and if you want to know the reasons why, you can read this Indies Unlimited guest post by Lara Reznik. Lara’s post is brilliant and lists the basics of what Scrivener is all about and why she uses it.

I realized after reading her post and seeing many other posts similar that I am really only scratching the surface of this amazing program. I know I am not using it to its full potential and this is something I want to change.

I have set myself the goal that as soon as my current project is finished, I will take some time to really study this program and figure out how I can get the most out of it. It’s one of those cases of a little time spent learning will no doubt save me hours in the future.

In order to prepare for this self-inflicted study course I have researched a few resources that might help me and I wanted to share them with you, in case you’re interested in doing something similar.

So here’s what I’ve found:

Scrivener for Dummies
by Gwen Hernandez

I have actually purchased the paper back copy of this book as I intend to use it as a reference book. It is broken down into seven parts that really pulls the program apart and teaches you all the little in and outs.

There are 23 chapters stuffed full of information and I know the pages will be thoroughly highlighted and dog-eared by the time I’m done.


Writing a Novel With Scrivener
by David Hewson

This bestselling author walks the reader through how he creates a novel from start to finish, using Scrivener the whole way through. So not only do you learn how to compose a great story, you also learn how to do it on Scrivener. It’s like two for the price of one 🙂


How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon (for Mac)
by Ed Ditto

The title is pretty self-explanatory. This is one feature of Scrivener that I know I’m not using well. Like I said before, I need to take a little time to figure it out, therefore saving me hours in the future. I am very excited about formatting my upcoming novels into paperbacks straight from Scrivener.

As a side note: I tend to export my manuscripts into Word to send to my editor and then keep it in Word until all my final edits are complete. Once that’s done, I import the Word doc back into Scrivener and use its magic awesomeness to format the docs ready for all my different lines of distribution.

I’m sure there are plenty more useful resources to be found. If you have any, please add them to the comments section below. And if you haven’t introduced yourself to Scrivener yet, I suggest you do so. There is a free one-week trial available, so you really have nothing to lose.

Author: Melissa Pearl

Melissa Pearl is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of multiple novels spanning a variety of genres, from YA fantasy and paranormal to romantic suspense, including award-winning novel, BETWIXT. For more on Melissa, visit her blog or her Amazon author page.

12 thoughts on “Scratching the Surface of Scrivener”

  1. Thanks, Melissa, for the article.

    I believe it a great tool for plotters, writers panning out the entire novel almost before even writing a single line; Scriveners features would help immensely.

    For those who write as in the Doctorow’s metaphor, Word or Pages, and a Moleskin, are more than enough. 🙂

  2. I’m working on my first book using Scrivner now & I love it. My biggest problem is remembering to use all the extras that are available. I may have to check out these books for quick reference. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I just bought it. I was at the BIO conference, and it was so highy recommended by some of the very distinguished authors there that I got it right away. I did not try it as yet, but the demo I got at BIO showed me that is is a fabulous program.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions on reference books, Melissa. I’ve seen a number of Facebook posts from authors who have the program but don’t know what to do with it.

  5. I bought it and used it for the first 4 chapters. I was constantly confused and found myself asking for help from my husband (who somehow just “gets it”). I have given up and gone back to Word. When I think back to how much time I wasted trying to just write while using Scrivener, it makes me wince. Perhaps one day I will move beyond the PTSD I still feel whenever I reflect back on the program, and I will utilize one of the handy reference books you recommend before taking the plunge again.

    1. Melody, I am wondering whether you worked with the tutorial before starting? In my experience it’s essential. And now I rate Scrivener as the best software I ever paid for, both in use and price. I am nearly at the end of a 150,000 word book that I could not have done with Word (tried, failed). My Scrivener draft currently has 430+ subdocuments, seamlessly displayed and edited as one.

  6. Thanks for stopping by everyone 🙂 I hope you find these resources helpful. I know Scrivener is a massive program that can be hard to wrap your brain around, but I have found it the most amazing tool for writing.

    1. Like many, I also struggled on my own in attempting to learn and use Scrivener–even after working through the very good tutorial that comes with the program. However, I took the online Scrivener for Mac class, taught by Gwen Hernandez, author of Scrivener for Dummies, and now am quite proficient in using Scrivener for all of my writing–blog posts, short stories, novels. At first, Scrivener does look way too daunting, but I would recommend for everyone to give it an honest shot.

  7. A good novel is a massive undertaking that can be hard to wrap your brain around, but Scrivener makes it so easy to organize all the bits and pieces that I find it difficult to understand how anyone could go back to a linear word processor–even with a good outliner–after seeing what Scrivener does for you. Melody, I urge you to give the tutorial a try; forget your writing for a couple of hours and just play with Scrivener. 🙂

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