At Last ...

My ‘Guide to the Building Regulations’ is finally published: … ons/73371/

It’s one of the more specialised books to have its gestation in Scrivener, and it probably isn’t going to make anyone’s Christmas list, nonetheless it is out there for those people who need a succinct guide to the regulations (England and Wales only).

With it finished I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on the writing process and how that worked in Scrivener.

The first joy of Scrivener was its support of non-linear writing. The Regulations have no plot, and the different sections of the regulations rarely connect to other parts, so the chapters were written out of order, but sitting within the overall framework I had set up in the binder. I would start by making notes for each chapter, but with the notes in the main text, not the notes panel, splitting and organising subsections and sub subsections as I went on. Then I would copy the notes text into the document notes so as still to have it as a reference, then turn the original rough notes into text.

I kept my lists of tables and figures in documents at the bottom of the binder, using a non-linear numbering sequence which I later tidied up: there was no point starting at 1, then having to renumber several times in a chapter as some text became tables or other tables disappeared. The tables themselves lived in a series of NeoOffice documents: it was too frustrating building tables in Scrivener. In-line references were handled with a basic human-readable mark-up [Xref: table a.7], which I tended to use even for cross-references until the very final stages.

External references were handled in a similar way: no Harvard system for me, as I wanted a layout with a broad margin where the full references, with any notes, would appear next to the text. The editor and typesetter seem to have coped admirably with my convention that any text starting [Further guidance…] became a margin note to that section.

My reference documents started in the Research folder, but about halfway through writing I jumped ship to DEVONThink Pro, partly because I found that made better use of my two screens (I could have a split screen in Scrivener with two text documents visible, and have my references on the other screen), and also because I realised that I would very likely need many of the documents for subsequent projects.

I would compile each chapter as it was finished and send it to editors and readers, then make their amends back into the Scrivener project. Once I had all those comments worked through I finalised the section numbering and ncross-references and compiled a final version of the text. At that point I had to stop working in Scrivener and I spent some time in that word document, going backwards and forwards with the editor. Then it was off to PDFs for proofing.

Writing the book, from the first words to handing the final draft to the editor took about a year (May 2009 to May 2010). I don’t think it would have been possible to do it that quickly without Scrivener, and I certainly wouldn’t have had the satisfaction of the steady change of the binder icons from blank, to yellow (notes), to orange (first draft), and finally to purple (final draft).

So, thanks again for a brilliant piece of software which fits so many ways of working.

Thanks, I just got around to reading this. Appreciate your presentation of how you used Scrivener.

So, based on your description, this won’t necessarily be a best-seller. But sounds like a good match for Scrivener, book, and you.

Well done!

Well, your publisher is confident, at least. A best-selling series!
And probably so, if your construction industry is doing better than ours.

Congratulations, and thanks for explaining how you wrote in Scrivener.