Tag Archives: scrivener


Scrivener – Meta-Data

So, I’ve been using Scrivener for over a year now. I thought I was pretty swish. When I first got it, I went through the tutorial. It covers so much stuff, but I got the basics down, and forged ahead, really happy with how it worked.

But occasionally I’ll see something online, or think “I wish I could…” and then read the manual and discover I can, and I find ways that make using Scrivener even better.

I recently had one of those OMG moments with Meta-Data.



Scrivener comes with some built-in meta-data that you can use to help categorize your documents, “Labels” and “Status.”

But the best thing is, the meta-data is fully customisable.

Project -> Meta-Data Settings

Scrivener Meta-Data Settings

You can give both Labels and Status a Custom Title (like I have — POV Character) which will show up throughout Scrivener. And you can add, remove, and edit the options. I have two POV characters, so I have two options.


Need More Meta-Data?

If two pieces of meta-data aren’t enough, you can add more on the Custom Meta-Data tab.

Scrivener Meta-Data Settings - Custom

I like to track the date of my scenes, so I can check whether a reference to “yesterday” or “three weeks ago” is correct. So I’ve added a Custom Meta-Data called “Scene Date.”

Any Custom Meta-Data you add will be available to add to the columns shown in the Outliner.

View -> Outliner Columns -> Scene Date



As you can see about the Labels can be colour-coded. For my POV Characters, Ally is blue and Forester is green. This is a great visual reference in the Outliner or Corkboard. But you can also use the colour in the Binder.

View -> Use Label Color In -> Binder

If, like me, you changed the name of “Label”, that will show in the menu instead. Like so:

View -> Use POV Character Color In -> Binder

Now, each scene in the Binder is coloured according to the POV character.



Make a pretty PDF in Scrivener

I decided to give my MS another once-over (ugh, will it ever feel done?)

One piece of advice you hear, is to print it out. Because reading a printed page feels different to reading on screen. I’ve done that already.

The other thing I heard was to make it look like a book. There’s probably a million ways to do this, but since I have Kindle for PC, I thought I’d use that. (Why Kindle for PC, rather than a Kindle device or app? So I could fix things as soon as I found them, compile it again, copy it over, and see how the change looked.)

Kindle for PC can open a variety of formats, and I decided PDF was the easiest for me, since I could compile a PDF directly from Scrivener without any add-ons.

Compiling to PDF is straight forward, but if you use the standard manuscript settings, it still looks like a manuscript (well, duh) and not a book. So here’s how I made it prettier and more book-like.

(A lot of this will depend on how you have Scrivener set up. I use a folder for each chapter, and within that a text doc for each scene. So I’ll tell you how I did it, but you should be able to play around with it until you get something you like.)


First, Save Preset

If you have any custom settings for compiling (like I did) make sure you save them as a preset (I call mine “My Manuscript”) so you don’t lose them and then have to spend ages getting them right again. (Can you tell I’m talking from experience?)



Getting set up

1. I started with Format As: Standard Manuscript Format and made my changes from there. (It’ll switch to Custom when you make changes.)

2. Compile For: PDF

3. Add front matter: I went for Paperback Novel > Title Page, which is a plain page with only Title and Author.

3a. The “Add front matter” option doesn’t change when you change the “Format As”, so if you’re switching between compiling as a manuscript and compiling as a pretty PDF, that’s something to watch out for.



a. I went for the traditional 3 asterisks between adjacent text documents

b. And a single return for text documents that follow folders (because I actually have text in those folders, like a sub heading.)




This is where you can get fancy and start making it look pretty.

a. Click on the type (level) you want to edit.

b. Highlight the text

c. Make your formatting changes.


For chapter titles, I used a font called Loved By The King, size 20. I also changed the Page Padding to 1 line, instead of the standard manuscript 14.

For the body text, I liked the look of a nice round font, which was different to the normal Times New Roman I’m used to. So I chose Bookman Old Style, at size 11.


Page Settings

a. Page Size: Custom (This opens up a dialogue box.) I set it to 15 x 21 cm. Which is about A5 size, and more bookish than A4.

b. I also played around with the margins, and ended up settling on 1 inch for the top, 1/2 inch for the bottom, 3/4 inch for the left, and 1/2 inch for the right.



Save Preset

And, for the love of all things chocolate, remember to Save Preset… and give it a name like Pretty PDF, so you can reuse those settings easily. (Also, if you make changes, you can save them by entering the same name. It will warn you that you’re going to overwrite it.)



Hit the Compile button and give your PDF a name.


Reading in Kindle for PC

There’s a folder called My Kindle Content which, for me, is directly in my Documents folder. Copy your PDF from where ever you just saved it to this folder.

Then you should be able to start Kindle for PC and open that PDF. So, so pretty!



Was it worth it?

Yes, absolutely. I found typos that I hadn’t noticed before. I played around with paragraph sizes because they look different on a smaller page. I enjoyed reading it because it looked like a book.


The Scrivener Post

photo credit: Audringje via photopin ccFor years and years, this is how my writing process went: a scene would pop into my head, I’d grab a 1B5 exercise book (I’d buy them in bulk at the beginning of the year, during the start-of-school sales), pick up a pen, and start to write longhand. Sometimes I’d end up with a paragraph, sometimes a few pages, and other times I’d eventually fill the whole book and have to grab another. Often I’d end up with crazy scribbles and the weirdest typos (is it still a typo if I’m not typing?). I’m grateful that I can look back over all those exercise books and see what I was up to. Yep, I still have them all. In a cardboard box under my bed.

Then, a few years ago, I decided I needed to sort out Grow (although it didn’t have a title then) because it covered a few exercise books and I hadn’t written it in chronological order. So I typed it up in Word. As it got longer, I found myself needing to jump around in the manuscript, so to help with this, I started using outline levels.

If you use Word for long documents, but you don’t know about outline levels, have I got a treat for you.

I set each chapter title to Level 1, and the first paragraph of each scene to Level 2 (the rest of the doc should be Body Text). Then, when you show the navigation pane (for me it’s a checkbox under the “View” menu), you can see all those levels, nicely grouped, and you can click on them to quickly go to that place in the document. (Click the image for the bigger version.)


I haven’t typed up many of my stories, only the ones I think will go somewhere, but Word has served me well.

Then, a few months ago, I heard about Scrivener. If you haven’t, let me tell you it’s more than just a word processor, it’s a way to organize your writing, and group it together with your research, notes, and to-do list. I was intrigued, but I thought it was probably overkill for what I needed.

Until my birthday rolled around, and my hubby asked what I wanted. I couldn’t think of anything except the usual (chocolate). He couldn’t think of anything either, so insisted I give him a list of suitable presents he could choose from. I thought about it, and gave him a list. A list with only one thing on it. Scrivener. And sweet man that he is, he bought it for me. (He also printed and bound a copy of the manual so that he had something to wrap up.)

I’ve been using it for a month now, and I have to say, I’m a believer.

I converted a couple of my WIPs to Scrivener projects and I’m really enjoying using it. I highly recommend you follow along with the tutorial. I learnt so much that way, and it made me comfortable with the way Scrivener works.

But then, the most amazing thing happened…

I’m a total pantser, and I don’t do well planning. Most of the time I have an idea of where a story’s going, and I hold it in my head as I write scenes. I came up with an idea last week for a prequel to Grow, about Forester’s parents. But I don’t want to write it yet. I’ve got other stuff that needs to be done and I’m trying very hard to stay on target. But I knew I’d need to write notes or I’d forget it, and I don’t want to waste a milligram of hard-won creativity. So I set up a Scrivener project, and started jotting down notes.

Now, I’m not saying I couldn’t have done that with Word, or pen and paper, but with Scrivener, it’s so easy to rearrange, and categorize, and sort those ideas so they start to shape the story. I’m super excited. I’m going to keep plugging away, planning and making notes, and hopefully I’ll have this story sorted before I write the first scene.

So, tell me, do you write? What tools do you use?