Here’s a familiar challenge: you want to work on one scene but know that what you’re going to write is dependent upon a scene, several stages back in the book, which is already done. The standard response to this situation, depending on the software you’re using, is either to split the screen between the two documents or open two windows, one for each bit of the book.
Perhaps it’s me but I’m no great fan of either. All those scroll bars and different bits of window get in the way. This is a book — one long story composed of different bits. I want to see it that way. Continue reading
I’m a big fan of reading a draft manuscript in different formats. An A4 printout is good. So is a printout in paperback format — small pages, the same kind of pagination the reader will one day see.
Scrivener comes with a number of pre-formatted options for the latter. Even better you can use them to produce a pdf which will let you read your MS — and possibly mark it up depending on the software — on a smaller tablet such as an iPad mini or an Android or Windows equivalent.
Here’s how to do it. I’m using Scrivener on the Mac for this. I think you can achieve the same on Windows but you’ll need to play around to check. You can export the same way with Word, on Mac and Windows, by juggling page setup. But Scrivener does away with a lot of the faffing.
One of the things I love about Scrivener is the fine attention to detail. The app never goes the way of the obvious unless it makes sense. It’s put together in a fashion that understands the way writers — at least this one — thinks.
Let me give you a simple example. It’s the forward and back button you find at the top of the document window.
I never used to use this much because it’s very easy to navigate a Scrivener project through the Binder. You just click on the document you want to deal with. I also assumed that this was a simple navigation tool. Forward took you one scene ahead; back went in reverse one.
These work a bit like browser buttons. They ignore sequence; instead they work on a ‘last used’ basis.
So imagine you’re in scene 137 of a 200-document project. You realise you need to make some changes to scene 42 before continuing. So you go back and do a quick edit.
Problem: if you’re me you can’t quite remember which of all those many scenes in front of you was the one you were working on before. Which is annoying because that’s where you want to go next.
Ah… but the arrow button knows. Hit back and you’re there. This works continuously in both directions through your editing history.
One last tip too. Try right clicking on one of the arrows. You then see the actual document history. Like this.
This is one more demonstration of the fine detail that’s gone into creating Scrivener over the years. It doesn’t just think about what you might need for writing; it actually understands the non-linear and occasionally erratic way writers work.
Which is more than I do a lot of the time.
Sometimes I use real locations. Sometimes I use imaginary ones. On occasion I use imaginary ones that are based on somewhere real.
Whatever you’re writing it’s a pretty sure bet that somewhere on Google Maps there’s a Street View image you can use to remind you what the place you want to write about actually looks like. Here’s a simple way to attach that to a scene using Scrivener (currently only on the Mac, not Windows).
First, find your location in Google Maps.
Then go to the Scrivener Document Note for the relevant scene and right click in the yellow area.
You will now be able to make a screen capture of anywhere on the screen, including the relevant portion of the map. It will appear in the Note once you’ve selected it.
So now you have an aide-memoire right next to the part of the book where it’s due to appear. I don’t use this often but when I do I find it invaluable.