Dumb Newbie Questions.

Hi everyone!

I’m about 20 days into the trial version. Frankly it’s not going as well as I hoped as I’m spending far, far more time figuring out the program’s logic than doing any writing!

I don’t trust Scrivener enough to commit any ‘serious’ writing onto it, so at the moment I’m simply typing in some hand written character notes, but even this has thrown up some curious problems:

  1. Shortly after typing into a character page I get repeated warnings telling me Scrivener has been unable to save the page. I solve this by manually clicking ‘Save’, but when I switch to another character page it starts all over. Is this something I am doomed to do for eternity? Safety of my work is paramount, so this issue is not only irritating but worrying.

  2. Formating: The pages I’ve created seem to take on a formatting life of their own; some choose to run text across the entire page others go only a third of the way across. I don’t know if Scrivener secretly prefers some of my characters over others, but for the life of me I have been unable to bend it to my will. A simple thing like this is usually fixed in moments, but for some reason I have been unable to uncover Scrivener’s arcane secret.

Having run my own website for several years, I thought I was computer savvy, but Scrivener has popped that particular balloon. Despite watching the videos and wading through vast volumes of help and tuition pages, I still come away feeling this is one of the least intuitive programs I’ve seen in a long time. Or perhaps I’m just a dumb newbie?

Cheers & have a great weekend!

Have you gone through the built in tutorial? It’s rather good.

The tutorial is ‘ok’ but doesn’t seem to deal with the above issues.

You are computer savvy. Scrivener is a bit different and can be intimidating to get started with. I had trouble getting started, then just threw caution to the wind and plunged in. Now, you’ll have to pry it from my cold dead hands. Your mileage may vary. It is a good fit for some, not for others.

The issues you are experiencing aren’t normal.

Re #1 - Where are the project (the .scriv folder) and the backups stored? Ideally, they need to be on a local hard drive (HD) or solid state drive (SSD), not on a USB thumb drive or network or cloud drive, etc. Scrivener does a lot of file activity against a lot of files that make up a project and a slow or unreliable drive will not cut it.
You might also try bumping up the Tools > Options > Save after period of inactivity value a bit so that it saves a bit less frequently.
Do you have plenty of free space on the drive(s) where the project and backups are stored?
Reasonable amount of RAM (chip memory)?
Significant other stuff running at the same time as Scrivener?

Re #2 - Did you create the pages from scratch or copy/paste material into them? If from scratch, you shouldn’t be experiencing that. If you copy/pasted anything into them, perhaps you brought in some formatting… when doing such pasting, be sure to use “Paste and Match Style”.
Do the pages by chance include many and/or large image(s)? That can cause a slowdown.

You could also try uninstalling and reinstalling Scrivener or exporting or compiling the whole thing out to plain text and then bring that back in to a new project and/or restarting the project from scratch.

Hope that is some help. Good luck.

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As SpringfieldMH said, these problems aren’t normal. The save error sounds like one that indicates the file isn’t writeable by Scrivener because some other program has it locked. Any chance you’re running Memeo Backup (aka WD AnyWhere)? We’re aware of a conflict with that program, as it seems to perpetual lock the files within the Scrivener project so that the auto-save is unable to run. Increasing the auto-save interval may help you avoid seeing the message as frequently, but the solution in this case is to exclude your Scrivener project folders from the backup so that Memeo isn’t interfering with them while you’re working. Scrivener by default does create automatic backups of your project when you close, so you should leave those backups in a location that is monitored by Memeo. You could also change the settings so that manually saving will trigger a backup, if you want an easy way to create these more frequently.

If Memeo isn’t installed, take a look at what other software you may have running that would be constantly monitoring and touching files–synchronization software or potentially security software would be the major suspects outside of backup tools. Try working for a little without these running to test if they’re affecting the ability to save.

For the formatting issue, this does sound like other formatting was brought in. Documents > Convert > Formatting to Default Text Stylet will update the formatting of the select documents to match whatever formatting you have set in the Editor tab of Tools > Options. You could also try using Format > Text > Copy Ruler/Paste Ruler commands to paste the paragraph formatting from one of the correct character sheets to the problematic paragraphs of the others, if these are using unique formatting. Creating a formatting preset from the correct paragraph via Format > Formatting > New Preset from Selection will also give you an easy way to apply the formatting to any text you bring in that isn’t appearing properly.

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Thank you all so much for your replies. I’m sorry my response is so late, its not a lack of gratitude, but I have been away for a while.

I was working through the tutorial when the problems began. At one point it asks you to create and save a page - this was fine - but from then on, every time I booted up my lap top it warned me this file could not be saved and needed to be updated. I tried this each time but still the problem occurred, in the end I deleted it.

The bigger problems began when I created character pages.

My lap top is a new Vaio with very little on it, and I don’t see any issues occurring with Sony’s control centre. I don’t have Memeo which, as far as I know, was (and maybe still is) incompatible with Windows 8. I do have security software installed (MacAfee) but since every man and his dog has it as well, I rather discounted this as a cause.

Rather the issue seems to do with Skydrive (since February renamed Onedrive)?

I can’t remember when I downloaded Scrivener whether this location was chosen by default or if I set it myself, but the error messages typically read like this:

Could not save project document (My character’s name)
Failed saving text with id: 13
Error: Could not open RTF file for writing
Gives file location on Skydrive
Error: ‘This process cannot access this file because it is being used by another process’

I haven’t made much use of Skydrive, but I do see my Scrivener files located there. But assuming this was the problem, I decided to relocate everything onto my hard drive. I went to the Scrivener Manual (7.8.1 Configuring Automated Backups) and it says ‘Location can be changed in preferences’. It didn’t say where this is so I embarked on a fruitless search in the toolbar to find ‘Preferences’ (this is where the manual is less than helpful). I assume it actually meant ‘Options’.

‘Options’ says nothing about ‘saving’ so I assumed ‘Back up location’ was the solution, which I duly changed.

Perhaps a mistake I have made is thinking ‘Backing up’ is essentially the same as ‘Saving’?

So far, this seems to have resolved the problem.

I could understand formatting problems if I had pasted something from say, Word, but as I said, I have only been typing my hand written notes. I changed settings in the a.m. ‘Options’ though unfortunately they are not retrospective so I had to do each one manually.

I wish there was a single ‘Global Settings’ page that covered all the basic formatting issues; fonts, formats, colour, save locations etc. It would save a lot of time

To me, any program that’s spawns a ‘….For Dummies’ book is a warning things will not to be as straight forward as I would like. I’m grateful this forum exists and, judging by the large number of queries appearing here, so do many others.



Onedrive/Skydrive is known to cause problems with projects that you are editing (as opposed to backups created when you close the program; they should be fine).

Your backups location (found in Tools->Options->Backup) should have defaulted in a user settings location in Windows, not to Sky/Onedrive, but if you use the .zip compression option for backups, it should be a fine location for backups (having them in more than one location is a good idea in fact).

When you create a new project, you can choose the folder where it will be saved, and that “save” happens immediately; it doesn’t wait until you invoke “file->Save” the way standard word processors do. But just like regular Word processors, there’s no setting to say “all new files will be saved here by default”. To change default location of new projects, you have to change the “Where:” value of the “File->New Project” window when you create your next project; subsequent projects will default to that location.

In case the above was confusing, there are 3 different concepts I think you are conflating:

  1. backups happen according to the settings in Tools->Options->Backup. When you first install Scrivener, one of those options is set to trigger a backup when you close a project. You can of course change when these automatic backups occur (on opening the project, when you use the otherwise pointless File->Save menu, etc…).

  2. Scrivener automatically “saves” your changes whenever you pause for a few seconds. This is a significant feature that prevents data loss when power failures or computer crashes occur.

  3. When you start a new project (from the window that appears when you go to File->New Project), the project “file” (the .scriv folder and all its initial contents) is written to your drive immediately, in the location specified in the “Where:” field. There is no period where the new project isn’t saved to your drive, as with standard word processors, which don’t save new documents until you tell them to.

It does take a bit of adjusting to, but it’s the many careful design decisions that went into Scrivener that make it such a great tool. It’s kind of like transitioning to the metric system when you’ve used Imperial units your whole life; once you get used to the differences, you’ll never want to go back (or you desperately wish your backwards-thinking government would just mandate the change and be done with it).