Anyone Writing Novels Exclusively in Scrivener?

Scrivener is, pretty obviously, intended to be a soup to nuts (nuts? no one eats nuts for dessert!) writing tool. Clearly the Outliner and Corkboard are intended to be brainstorming and first draft tools. But I’m getting the impressions no one has actually admitted to using it for that purpose.

I tried very hard to use Scrivener for first draft, then turned to index cards, then back to hand writing in notebooks with fountain pens. But the pain of transcribing so much content (I’m in my second draft and have re-written nearly all of it, again with fountain pens.) leads me to try again to work on the keyboard. Am I doomed to fail at that?

:raising_hand_man: I do all my writing using Scrivener. Long since stopped using simplistic word processors such as Microsoft Word, which went long ago as I do not participate in the Microsoft hegemony,, LibreOffice, or Apple Pages. Although keep the last two around for the rare cases of having to deal with documents in formats that Scrivener cannot handle.

About the only pieces of writing that I do not use it for are short responses like this. But again when a reply addresses complex issues or multiple comments I compose them in Scrivener to make a cogent and coherent argument. As this has lengthened it too might need to continue being drafted in Scrivener.

As to handwriting I have commented elsewhere here that using a stylus on paper is impractial for me. The friction of the marking medium on the surface slows me down and in consequence fires my dyslexia which in turn causes me to leave out unimportant words such as not. Being able to touch type and look at the screen not my fingers results in better lexical capture. (And I have used the onscreen keyboard on my iPad to touch type too.) Althougth the proximity of fingers to the screen on both my laptop and iPad will occasionally result intrusion of my second language which has no tense system and therefore verbs go unconjugated.

No way would I contemplate or consider ever transcribing material — my own or anyone else for the matter. The recent inclusion of reasonable OCR capabilities within iOS/iPadOS/macOS for grabbing text from graphics is a boon to quoting academic sources. (Yes, I use Scrivner for academic purposes too.)

I am something of a heretic with Scrivener though as I have never subscribed to the index card metaphor so no Outliner or Corkboard! The Binder is sufficient for me through the use of short snappy titles for the documents there. Restructing parts of my manuscript is a simple drag-and-drop within the Binder. When I am unsure of the exact nature of restructing required I use Collections within the Binder window to play with alternative narrative orders.



Thanks for your extensive and cogent reply. Could you say a bit more about the type of writing you are doing in Scrivener? Fiction, non-fiction, scholarly or all of the above?

As you specifically asked about novel writing that was the primary focus of my reply. But I have used Scrivener for non-fiction and scholarly work too.And have a Project where I record ideas but fiction and non-fiction; should one or more coalesce then I drag-and-drop into a new Project where work continues. The ideas Project is also where I work on complex response to social media.

Well, I have slivered almonds on my pie sometimes… :slight_smile:

I usually work as a “shortster” - meaning I will sometimes plot ahead, but mostly just write and then figure it all out later in the editing phase.

Done there, been that, still doing it. Like @reepicheep, I do most of my writing using Scrivener. I’ve been moving most of my work writing to Scrivener as well, but still use MS Word and LibreOffice on a semi-regular basis. That said, I find I don’t plan out my work before I start it. Maybe I should…
I do fiction novels when I have the time and non-fiction Historical stuff less now than I used to. Planning the Historical stuff does help me remember what I want to say and comes in handy when I stray down a rabbit hole. But having it available, even if I don’t always use it, is a godsend. That is one of the selling points (for me) of Scrivener. Probably one of the best pieces of advise that I had given to me ages ago was, just write. Use whatever to record what you want to say, just do it. Not using everything of a particular program isn’t failure. Not writing is the failure.

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I’ve heard Plotter and Pantser, never “Shortster.” Is that supposed to mean “Short Pants?” Which is hilarious, if a bit obscure!

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What I was going for! :smile: Yes, part pantser, part plotter.

I have used Plottr which can import into scrivener and use scapple as well . My sci-fi project built on worldbuilding project and collected loose ideas to formulate rough draft then started new clean project to write/ dictate novel and refer back to worldbuilding template certainly could use corkboard to build out scenes to build story as well

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You can learn to be creative at the keyboard, if you want to. Humans are at the top of the food chain because we are built to adapt. (And we have opposable thumbs.)

Maybe try the way I do it:

I make a new document in Scrivener, and I type a brain dump. Everything I’m thinking about the scene, the chapter – whatever is on my mind. While I’m typing, new ideas will pop into my head, and I jot them down, separated by a blank line before and after. No care taken about chronology, just get it down and build momentum.

When you are finished (as Bradbury said) channeling an avalanche through your house, go get a hot cup of java and sit back down. Now go through the entire document, and use the Documents>Split>With Selection As Title to separate each idea into its own document. Put them all in a folder, and view it as a Corkboard.

Start organizing them into folders that make sense to you. When you have them grouped into folders, examine the cards in each folder and consider Merging some of them together because they belong as a single thought.

Now start working on the documents to devlop the ideas a bit further.

There will come a point where you want to start writing actual pages. I use a split view, and put my brainstormed document on the left (sometimes Scrivenings View) and my manuscript document on the right, and I start typing.

If this doesn’t work for you, I suggest hiring a typist to transcribe your written notes, or look into dictation software, because you can read faster than you can type.

Hope that helps.


I have written fiction (and would write non-fiction) exclusively in Scrivener since researching and purchasing the program a little over a year ago.

For me, the luxury of being able to have separate scenes/chapters displayable on the same screen as the main window, and also having many choices about displaying whatever chapters I want on the screen at the same time, has been a point of no-return. It is so nice to not have to have several Word windows open, and to figure out where they are stored.

I loved computers from the first time I started to use them in the late 70s - being able to cut-and-paste, and to make copies of files (i.e., for multiple back ups) has been extremely useful for me - and I feel that Scrivener has crystallized many other very useful features.

However, I do sympathize with you, olonoff. I can imagine that, just as computers and Scrivener have enabled me to work in a way which I had been wanting to work for years, satisfying my preferences for a work method, hand-writing is your preferred method.

I hope you find a way of working that works for you, because I have found that not having a satisfactory and satisfying work process can impede my motivation and ability to write.

@olonoff, I saw you deliberating about using Scrivener vs. long hand many months ago in a couple of threads. Where did you eventually settle?

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