confused on how to use

Hi, I am using the program on a trial basis. I am having a really hard time understanding how to use it. I downloaded the manual, and also googled and found tutorial videos, but the screen pictures on the videos are small and hard to see. I feel defeated before even getting started. The most I have been able to do is I did start a chapter, and I have one character sketch, though I can’t figure out how to get a picture on it. Nor can I figure out how to add more character sketches.
My question is, should I not even bother since I am fairly computer illiterate. I mean, I can do basic things but am totally clueless on how to make files, etc…
I currently use ywriter5 software for my novel writing, and I like it but the formatting isn’t very good. I thought maybe I would have better progress with a more “mature” program, but at this point, I feel like I am in way over my head.
Owl Feathers

There is a built-in tutorial. Before you decide anything you should go completely through that and see if it helps.

Thanks. I have looked at the manual for specifically what I am trying to do, which currently is get the character sketch done. I got two characters, and can’t get it to let me do more even though I am going step by step what it is saying. I wonder if there are any truly helpful books , like an idiot guide, that would be worth getting.

Books frequently mentioned include Scrivener For Dummies by Gwen Hernandez and Writing a Novel with Scrivener by David Hewson. Those and others are available on Amazon. Online courses are also available. Do a Google search on “Scrivener class”. As others have mentioned, try the built in tutorial (Help > Interactive Tutorial). See the Literature & Latte web site and YouTube for Scrivener related videos. And persist, experiment, etc. You can always create small throwaway projects to experiment in… if they crash and burn, no sweat. Good luck.

P.S. Scrivener originated on the Mac and has subsequently been brought to Windows PCs and iOS tablets/phones. The Mac version is ahead in features, with the Windows version working to catch up. Books, tutorials, videos may mention Mac version features that are less developed or not yet in the Windows version.

The character sketch would be a document template within one of the project templates. So those would be the manual sections to look at.

It’s hard to say, but it’s possible that you overwrote the master character sketch template with one of the sketches you created. If that’s the case, you can get a fresh template by creating a new project from the same project template and dragging it over.


I have two characters sketches. Everytime I try to add a new one, it just pops up one of the two I already have. I have started four new projects to try and get it right, and same problem every time.

I tried the interactive video and was able to get a few more, but now that is stuck on same ones also.

I really like what seems to be able to be done with this software, alas, I think it is just too advanced for me. Maybe if I had someone sitting right here next to me, because I learn better hands on instead of trying to read instructions and learn from that. Going to give it a few more test days, but thinking I am going to have to forget it since I can’t get past first couple of steps. :frowning:


You say you like yWriter5 but the formatting isn’t very good. I think you should be aware that formatting is not one of Scrivener’s strengths either. It has been designed as a tool for writers (like yWriter5) and many people find it necessary to export their finished novel / report / thesis etc to Word or a similar programme for final formatting. For some purposes it IS possible to make a final document from Scrivener (I have done so) but not everyone finds this works for them.

I mention this because Scrivener’s strengths lie in the ways that it helps keep track of all sorts of things during the various stages of the writing process. If you are happy with yWriter5, and it is working for you as a tool to plan and organise your writing, then Scrivener may not add anything that you really need.


Hi Owlfeathers,

I just wrote a response to another post that you might find useful. It includes steps for creating a character sketch.

[url]First Time Scrivener User - #9 by JimRac]



WOW! That was a big help. I, too, bought the Scrivener for Dummies, and couldn’t find what I needed. So disappointed. Then I saw your post. Thank you so much for helping. :slight_smile:

Also, thanks to everyone who replied, Katherine and Owen also.

Glad to help - Happy writing! :smiley: