Define "Beginner"

Thank you from a Total Newbie, for the Coffee Invite during this Artic Hurricane.

I come seeking guidance to using Scrivener for the first time. Alas, I am an “Analog Girl in a Digital World.” (Thanks to balladeer Guy Clark.)

Every post found so far, every well-intended video link, thinks I already know what they are talking about. I do not have a clue. I can’t get out of the Tutorial, much less have both the Tutorial and my own work going side by side. I know it can be done, but I just don’t get it.

Just let me type in my index cards and move them around the corkboard. Let me data-entry all my hand-scribbled loose-leaf papers, and pages mixed-up in spiral bound notebooks and countless comp books into the program documents, and let me have at 'em!

And for the Sake of Sweet Old Betsy, please let me increase the font size in every window field so I can read this thing!

Whew, I feel so much better now. Truly, Coffee is Better Living Through Chemistry!

I hope to stick it out long enough to get the hang of it, cause I have some Good Reading for the local Library Readers Book Club if I can ever get it down on paper - organized, that is!

Thank you,
Eden Grey

I see scriv kind of like my wife. A complete PITA to live without so you do what you have too do to make it work.

Some hints:

  • File Open to open another project. Or find it on disk and double click. I have three open now so I could give that advice.
  • just click the X in the upper corner to close a project. You will need to use the above methods to reopen it.
  • There is another thread about the font size (was that you?) where KB (creationists would call him the creator of scrivener, evolutionists … Hmm… they would too, so this joke just died on the vine) gave direction to how to do that.

the rest of the stuff… not enough coffee yet for me to answer. It’s one of those days. Sorry.

BTW welcome to the world of excessively flexible drafting tools. You’ll likely never look at a text editor (or word processor) the same again.

I am so dumb I don’t know what to do to follow your simple instruction to Open File… what ‘button’ is that?

Please note it took me a pause to figure out PITA was Pain in The … I am telling you, I haven’t been out much since mainframes let terminals out in the labs… the lingo is over my head.

Thank you for the Welcome!
May I pour you another cup of Joe? It’s a fresh pot, fresh ground beans… :question:

If anyone is following the exciting exploits of Searching in Scrivener here in my Little Cosmos, I think I stumbled on the Novel Template. I named it the title of my test novel, “Itch” in my Documents file folders.
So just type over the Novel instructions or what?

Please do… I’m only on pot #2. I will warn you that my cup hold 4 “standard” cups of coffee. the office made me get my own pot again and kicked me out of the coffee club… They got tired of subsidizing my habit.

I’m on windows right now… Look at the menu bar. Click on “File” then on “Open”. That will open the file dialog. Find your project… I don’t think there is a button for this. I generally just double click my projects from the desktop. But then I’m lazy.

I also keep ALL my scriv files in one folder so I don’t have to go far to find them.

I’m a unix hack. A mouse is something you trap and feed to a cat or snake… :wink:

Don’t be afraid to ask a question no matter how silly it seems. I’m sure there is someone, probably me, who asked something sillier already.

Yep. Or, duplicate them so you have the copies.

I have a tendency to add an immediate second folder that isn’t draft or research that I call “crap” (literally) were I put things like template original docs. Sometimes I like to go back to the originals just to remind myself how the template works without starting a new templated project.

But then I’m known so be slower than a box of molasses covered rocks trying to escape a January freeze.

You are swell to be so friendly to a Stranger here. Thanks.

I do not want to tie up the wrong place with my questions. I am ignorant of online etiquette & do not want to unintentionally offend the Secret Rules of The Fine Print.

So I have a clean cork board, I think in a regular desktop file doc folder named ‘Scrivener - Itch’ with two 2x1 inch empty index cards - this is Where I Wanna Be… (too small to read what I type, but the concept is usable.)
It is header PART so I’ll try to rename that later… each index card is pre-labeled Chapter. I could rename as #1 #2 and just dive in with one of the chapters waiting in my head from my manual notebooks… right?

How do I see the stuff I write appear onto the index cards on the cork board?

There are few stranger than me. Vic-k, Wock certainly give me a run for my money in that department. very few people around here bite…

There are several places for help. Look up the main page of the forum for the scrivener for windows area. Lots of windows help for everything from “how do I start a project” to “I have the MMD doc and need to do an XSLT transform using LATEX” type stuff. If anyone gives you a hard time just ignore them and someone nice will be along to help you out.

on to your current delima.

Yes, but…

Have you done the tutorial? Under the help menu select Interactive tutorial. Always the best place to start. I think I do it just about every major update. I only use base feature which rarely change but it is a great “how the heck” refresher.

How you use scriv is as unique as how you fix your hair. Some folks brush their hair sitting at a table with mirrors and tools. Other stand necked (as granny would say it) in the tub with a towel. the only common things are you, your hair, and your living quarters (house). If you are you, your writing is considered to be your hair, then scrivener is the house. It provides a framework in which you can do what you do to get the job done.

I’m more of a “necked in the tub” type and just start typing. At most I might set up some basic highlights using index cards or outliner. but mostly I wind up with a mess that I later fix (my wife does the hair, the kids get the writing). Now there are others here who follow patterns of research, outlining, structuring, and completion. If one of us were to look at the other’s projects our heads would explode.

So there is no “right way”, there is “the way that works for you”. Which is hard for the beginner to figure out. So try this:

  1. in the binder create a new folder in draft and call it “main plot”.
  2. Create two new folders and call them subplot 1 and subplot 2.
  3. Now click on main plot and then the outliner in the toolbar. Outline your main plot. Create new lines for each plot point. You should see new documents being created as you add lines.
  4. do the same for each sub plots.
  5. GO WRITE! fill in your docs with what you want to say.

That is what I do. Kind of. Just less of 1-4 and more of 5. I do 5 then work backwards to 1. Then I fill in what doesn’t work. Keep in mind this is “fun” for me not “work”. For work I use scriv completely differently.

click in the card and type?


All good stuff, sir!
I want to be able to spread out my docs like index cards on my cork board, to see the big picture and the Gaps… When I type in an index card, it becomes its own document and it is no longer an index card… What’s up with that? I want Index Cards! :unamused:

Ah the index card crazy!

Lets start with forums. You really should only have one thread for topics. I see you’ve opened two more for beginner help. that would be "bad etiquette as you have this one already. If you have a specific “how do i” then you might open a new thread in a specific help area. You’ll likely get one of the L&L folks telling you something similar shortly.

also, if you are using windows to run scrivener you should post help questions in the windows section. If mac, then use the mac section. If you are like me and you have both then you would post in the section that is closest to the platform you are running at the time (windows/mac).

Hope that makes sense.

Index card: they are documents. actually they are meta data about documents. Even folders are documents in scrivener. Anything you see in the drafts section of the binder IS all the following:

  1. A document
  2. an index card
  3. a line in the outliner
  4. a folder
    This defies all logic because you are thinking of these things as discrete things. Binder objects are like ideas. One idea can be many things at the same time. It all depends on the context at the time you consider the idea. the same is true of the binder object. In corkboard view all binder objects have an index card (but it may not be visible in the current context). In scrivening mode everything is a document. In outline mode they are points in the outline. Every item can contain other items.

So, if you want to see the index card context, make sure you are in corkboard mode. If you are in scrivenings mode you can display the “inspector” panel (far left side) to see the index card contents of the current document but you won’t see it’s relation to other cards.

Does that make sense?

Yes, thank you, I saw that I unintentionally posted in Mac too late to know how to un-post it; then I copied my post to Windows; I am thankful for pointers in doing things right without the trial-and-error offenses!

Now about the tips you gave most recently… I do not understand the terminology. I do not know how to find everything so I can see all entries on my cork board… I hap-hazzardly stumble around from entry to entry…

I spent too much money on this to give up!

Have you tried the built in tutorial?

The tutorial drove me to seek help here . :unamused: … it must be written by the same people who wrote the program - it thinks I know way more than I possibly could as a complete software novice. I was spinning in circles trying to figure it out since late last night and started up again be 5 am this morning… I can’t be That Dumb!

Also: post-stalk AmberV. He’s generally got a lot of strange tips and tricks that make Scrivener more useful.

If the tutorial is giving you trouble, then I’d suggest starting a new discussion in the Scrivener for Windows “Technical Support” forum titled something like “Having trouble with the tutorial”. Quote the part of the tutorial that first gives you trouble and ask for guidance. Then continue on until you hit another speedbump; then ask another question in the same thread, noting the section you’re in and quoting the passage that doesn’t make sense. Repeat as necessary.

Just out of curiosity, how comfortable with your windows system are you (for general use)?

While a quick look at the tutorial leaves me thinking that it might be more the general terminology than scriv specific things that are frustrating. Then again, I’ve been using scriv long enough that I may not draw the same lines around terms that a new user would.

Keep with it. While the upfront effort seems high, the long term payoff is worth it.

One thing I would suggest that should help you a lot, is to read the scrivener manual. With Scrivener open, go to the Help menu and click on the Scrivener manual (at least that is how to get to it in the Mac, it might be different in Windows). This is an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file, and it should launch whatever your default pdf reading software is. To get to it again, it is simplest to then save it as a copy to some location on your documents files, where you can find it again.

The manual is super helpful and what is more, is copiously illustrated. Read it. Read it again. Read it from front to back. It would also help to have another program open and take notes, questions, tips and references. This can be done in text, in rtf, in ms-word, whatever.

The second reading of the Manual should make things clearer to you. On the first reading, just try to grok the main concepts and how Scrivener works. Look at it as a textbook for a class you are taking.

You will find as you dig deeper, that Scrivener like all powerful programs, offers different ways of doing things. For beginners, it is simpler to note just one way, any way that seems most congenial to you or the way you usually work, and follow that. So when you take notes, write down these ways. You can copy the text from the Manual to make this faster and easier.

Save your notes, and now go back to Scrivener, open the Tutorial and import your notes file right into scrivener.

Keep plugging. Good luck!


And if you haven’t yet, I’d suggest you watch the video tutorials here: (especially the first two for on overview)

And I’m sure there’s lots on YouTube as well.

That should help you get a sense of how to get around and use Scrivener and help you learn the terminology a bit.