How to use Scrivener – Get writing fast

I’m a big fan of Scrivener, so I’m going to share some simple features on how to use Scrivener and get you started fast. I’m also sharing some cool features you can find in the Mac version. Scrivener works by letting you put all your research, character sketches, and story content in one setting. PC Magazine gave it an “Excellent” rating because it’s “one of the best pieces of software for writers because it was built with their needs in mind.”

Know Your Version

Currently, I’m using version 2.8.1.2 on my Mac. If you have it on your computer and you don’t know what version you have:

  1. Open the program
  2. Go to upper left Scrivener/Check for Updates
  3. A screen will open with your version number (or will tell you to update)

They now have a 3.0 version available for purchase for Mac (the PC 3.0 version is coming in 2019) – so I’ll be getting that soon.

Get Started

Open Scrivener and you should see the Start Panel pop-up. From this screen, you have several options. (If you are already in Scrivener and this screen isn’t open, you can go to File/New Project to open the Start Panel.)

How to use Scrivener

How to use Scrivener

From the left side, choose from Getting Started, or the type of project you want to start. Getting Started is nice if you want to check out the interactive tutorial, the expansive User Manual, or YouTube videos.

Or, choose the kind of project you’ll be working on.

In this case, I’m going to select Fiction. For this blog, I’m going to use my already published novel, “Toy of the Gods
, as an example, but pretend I’m starting from the beginning so you can see how it all works.

Start Your Novel

  • Click on Fiction, then double click on Novel to open up a new novel project.
  • scrivener save

    scrivener save

  • Name your project in the Save As field.
  • Click Create.
  • Now you have a new Novel project to start with.

Write Your Novel

Navigate your new project by using the Binder on the left side of your screen.

  • Novel Format: Explains how to use the template.
  • Manuscript: You can rename this file anything you want, but this top file is where your story lives.
  • Chapter: You can rename chapters anything you want – just don’t use numbers – Scrivener can number them for you.
  • Scene: You can split your Chapters into scenes – for example, The second chapter of my book is split into three scenes. Intro Leslie, Leslie explores the eco-resort, Leslie chases a burglar.
  • Characters: I love this part of Scrivener! I create a sheet for each character. This helps keep my characters organized. I title each sheet the name of the character so I can quickly find them.
  • Places: If your story is based on a certain location, you can make place sheets, just like a character.
  • Front Matter: This will be important when you’re ready to publish.
  • Research: Whatever research you collected for your story can go here. For example, I collected a ton of research about the Amazon. Once I add it there, I can access it quickly when I need to be reminded of something.
  • Template Sheets: I love this option! This is where you can find templates for your new character and setting (Place) sheets. I use a very detailed table for my characters. Here I can insert the table and now every time I create a new character, the table will be there in a new sheet.
  • Trash: When you send something to trash in your project, this is where it goes.

Start writing:

  1. Click on Scene.
  2. Click in the open space known as the editor window.
  3. Start typing. This is where the text of your scene goes.

Create new chapters or scenes:

  1. Click on the green + sign along the top in the for new scenes
  2. Click the drop-down arrow next to the green + sign to add a new chapter.

Here’s another screenshot with some examples of the chapters and scenes named. You can rename them by double clicking on them and typing the new name. 

Fun Things to Use

And, here are a few fun tools you might want to try out!

Word Count Goals. Have a writing goal? You can set a goal for your complete manuscript as well as session. Go to:

  1. Project
  2. Show Project Targets
  3. Click Edit
  4. Edit the number goals
  5. Click Apply

Then you can always go back to the Project Targets to see where you’re at with your goals.

Name Generator. Seriously! There’s a name generator.

  1. On the top bar, click Edit
  2. Writing Tools
  3. Name Generator
  4. At the bottom of the screen click and drag the indicator to tell it how many names you need
  5. Click Generate Names

Change the Icons for your folders. My other favorite option! When I’m editing the novel I’ll change the icon on a folder to show that I’ve edited it for the first draft, second draft, etc. It helps me visually see where I need to work next.

  1. Right click on a folder image in the Binder
  2. Select from the long list of images!

What Next?

FYI: If you’re in Albuquerque, we’re holding a class in January to teach Scrivener. Scrivener is also our sponsor, so we’re able to keep the tickets inexpensive for this 3-hour class. If you’re interested, sign up today!

Want help writing your novel? Check out the Plotfinder Package.

Subscription box for creative writers – Plot Box

The new Plot Box is coming! This is a monthly Subscription box for creative writers and it’s aimed at all the things that we as writers need to keep us motivated and writing.

The new and improved Plot Boxes are being hatched. It’s been through beta testing with some paid subscribers and I got some great feedback from! It also went through a special marketing team at the University of New Mexico. They gave some great ideas to make the boxes better.

What will it have? There will be different levels depending on how much you want to spend.

There will be all sorts of things like:

  • Discounts to things you need, like Scrivener
  • Snacks
  • Discounts to events
  • Books on writing
  • USB mug warmer
  • Reading lamp
  • Kit to make your own idea board
  • Earbuds
  • Stress balls
  • Activities to up your creativity
  • Water bottles
  • Prompts of various kinds
  • Gum
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Bookmarks
  • Lamps
  • Trophies
  • Tea
  • Pens
  • Fun notebooks
  • Pencils
  • And whatever else I come up with.

As a writer, I know what it’s like to keep writing and motivated. So, I’ll be looking for all the ways to keep us all writing. 

This week I’m specifically researching boxes, and I really like EcoEnclose. Boxes made from 100% post-consumer and post-industrial waste. I definitely want to be eco-friendly!

Update! We realized that a subscription box would be too expensive each month, so right now we have the Plotfinder Package. We’ll have some great gift boxes for writers in late 2019, but not a subscription box. Thanks everyone for the feedback – that was definitely valuable in us creating something valuable for you.

Writers Forum

A new, unique opportunity to get help for writers with our new Writers Forum for Plot Duckies (aka Duckies Forum)! This will only be offered for the next 10 days (March 29, 2018) – otherwise, you have to be a Plot Box subscriber to get access.

I’m creating a forum where writers can connect online (not a group, not a facebook page).

How does the Duckies Writers Forum work?

1. Join Duckies Forum
2. Share a challenge, obstacle, question, or setback you’re facing in your writing
3. Answer someone else’s challenge, obstacle, question, or setback with ideas or feedback.
4. Get ideas and answers from me and other experienced writers.
5. Don’t waste time searching for an answer on Facebook or Google.

BTW: One of you lucky ducks will win a free Plot Box (first box). AND – as I build out the Plot Duckies platform, you’ll get the opportunity to tell me what you need help with the most. My goal is to be your most helpful source of ideas, inspiration, and motivation to keep writing creatively.

Ready to connect with like-minded writers who want to grow and learn? Then sign up here: http://eepurl.com/dos9hv

Next step? At the end of ten days, I’ll turn off the sign-up, and send you an email with more information. Connect with you soon!

Writing Box Subscription!

The Idea for the Writing Box

When I started Plot Duckies, I wanted to find a way to help as many creative writers as possible. Events are great, but I wanted to do more.

I was looking for help on running an idea hack session for my business. Turns out ABQID runs idea hack sessions! It’s like a brainstorming session only better. (I’ll create another post about how old fashion brainstorming isn’t the best way to come up with new ideas.)

For this session, it was TJ Cook, two target customers, and me. We ended up with some amazing ideas and two of those ideas came out on top.

One of those ideas, a writing box. A subscription box that would have helpful and fun things for creative writers. Wow, I love that idea!

The writer subscription box

Now I’m running with the box idea. What I’ve done so far:

  • I created a survey for input on what people might like, as well as what issues I could help them with.
  • I’ve created the first prototype of the box.
  • I’ve done a ton of work on costs and pricing.

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What Comes in the Box

This is what I’ve narrowed it down to:

Box 1:

  1. Chapter 1 of “Feed Your Creative Writer” A how-to on creativity,
  2. Welcome card with access to private Slack group and information on what to do with everything in the box.
  3. Fun 8 1/2 X 11 notebook,
  4. Dividers for your notebook,
  5. How-to outline your novel, and getting started
  6. A fun pen,
  7. A five-minute timer,
  8. and a plot duckie.
  9. There’s even a discount code for the writing platform Scrivener!

I’ll also use the pain points of the first five Beta testers to add additional items to the box so it’s as helpful as possible.

Future boxes all include a new chapter of how-to on creativity, a notebook (various sizes), a pen, a helpful outline or information on a writing topic like questions to ask your characters. I’ll also be on the lookout for coupons and great deals on things writers love.

Box 2 will specifically include a workbook on finding time to write. Members of the Slack group can let me know what they’d like to see in upcoming boxes.

The price will probably be $25 a month plus shipping.

What I learned creating the prototype

  • I really, really wanted to include a fun mug, but I found it would make the subscription too expensive (Darn it!) I might offer it as an add-in or a one-time order. Why? Because I love shopping and I’ve found some cool mugs.
  • That there are a few ways to set-up a subscription plan and some want more money than others to do all the hard work in the background.

Where I’m going

The best option I’ve found: Adding Woocommerce to my website and purchasing their subscription piece. Luckily, I’m familiar with WordPress and adding Woocommerce shouldn’t be too difficult. However, it means taking some time to learn, purchase an SSL certificate, etc.

So, as soon as I have everything set-up, I’ll have it connected to this website!

If you want a Writer Box Subscription

It’s all ready! I’m looking for 5 beta testers that will get the box at a discount. Send me a message through the website, and I’ll get back to you with the code. The box is live at yourstoryinabox.com

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Creative Thinking could be one Long Night Away

I love finding new research on creativity and creative thinking! There’s so much out there to know and I want to make sure to share it with you.

This latest from Scientific America suggests that we can be more creative when we’re tired. That might lend well to the whole idea of things like the National Novel in a Month, when writers take the month of November to write 50,000 words. Many of those writers are full-time workers and end up writing into the night or early morning, losing some sleep along the way.

But how does this help you? Working on that novel or short story? Schedule an early morning or late night, at a time you know you’ll be a little tired, and start writing. Give yourself a writing sprint for 5 or 10 minutes and go from there.

Did you try this? How did it work for you? I’d love to know! Please comment or email with your input!

Have a great creative writing day!

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Keep Creative Writing!

I know you hear it from fellow writers that you should write every day. So you probably know that you should.

If I can do it, you can too

As a startup business owner, freelance technical writer, roller derby player, business mentor, etc. I have a hard time eeking out the minutes to write every day, but I do it anyway. Sure I lose some sleep, but we get better at something through practice, constructive feedback, and change. And my goal is to be a better creative writer.

Find a writing deadline

Even while in the depths of planning the first big writer’s event for Plot Duckies, I’m currently working on a novel re-write, a new ebook, and I joined a flash fiction writer’s challenge by NYC Midnight. By having a deadline, it pushes me to make sure I get the writing done.

It also helps if I consider myself my own client. How many times have you finished a project for your boss or a client? How many projects have you finished for yourself? So, just like a boss or client, give yourself a valid deadline and stick to it. Then give yourself a reward if it gets done.

Finding other Writing Options and Deadlines

If you are looking for a deadline and way to get your writing reviewed there will be a submission and review period as part of any of upcoming Plot Duckies events.

Or, if you are looking for different types of writing opportunities, I highly suggest signing up for C. Hope Clark’s Funds for Writers newsletter. You can get the free version with some super helpful writing contests and more, or you can go for the $15/year subscription that shares a lot more.

About NYC Midnight’s Challenge

The challenge is “a competition that challenges writers around the world to create short stories (1,000 words max.) based on genre, location, and object assignments.”

If you missed signing up for this one, their next challenge will be the Short Screenplay Challenge.

If you’d like to read my flash fiction submission for the challenge (under 1,000 words) that was written within 48 hours – it will be in the next blog post “Alexandria and The Egg“-that I’ll share on August 5. My assignment was: Genre: Fairy Tale, Object: Crystal Ball, Location: Barn. I’ll tell you now, it’s pretty rough, but in order to become better writers, we have to start sharing and getting feedback.

Get out there and get input

And that’s another thing. Share your writing and be willing to hear feedback. let’s all grow as writers. Feel free to leave comments for any feedback you have for my story!

If you’d like to keep up to date on Plot Duckie Events, sign up to our Duckiemail below.

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