More Organized?

First off, I’d like to say that I love Scrivener and all of its great features! I started out using the trial on windows and am now using it on a mac and have a question or two.

I have a novel in progress and think I have the basics of using Scrivener down, to where I create scenes, and type them in and then create more scenes etc. This works fine, more or less, but I was wondering,

I’ve seen screenshots of projects using tons of lists and notes and colors and well, I guess my question is, is there an easy way to get more organized or easily incorporate the more advanced features of Scrivener into my novel?

Only if you already know exactly what you want and how to do it in scrivener.

Scrivener is like a piece of string. It will bend to your methods in many different ways. You can use it from something simple like tying two sticks together (say a multi entry journal), or for something more complex like lace (say an APA formatted thesis). Some folks use external things to supplement scrivener to make candles (say a scriptwriter using final draft).

The thing is that unless you sit down and start with a plan in mind you are only looking at what others have done. There is nothing wrong with this. The thing is that scrivener unshackles us from being forced into a linear thought process, or forced outlining, or template conformity. You make it up as you go.

I think the best way to figure out how scrivener works best for you is to do the following:

  1. Do the tutorial
  2. Think about how you write today.
  3. Sketch out “more organization” relative to #2.
  4. See how you would implement #3 in scrivener.
  5. Do a short story or some little project to test out your ideas.
  6. If it works move forward. If not go back to #2.

The lack of “one size fits all” really is the glory of scrivener. It is also part of what drives the learning curve and complexity of use up a bit. It is worth the effort and time though.

Jaysen’s advice is good.

The other thing to remember is that the “best” method not only varies from person to person, but sometimes from one project to another. Sometimes I need a detailed outline, sometimes I just sit down and start writing. Sometimes I find myself completely lost 3000 words in, and need to step back and figure out what I have. Sometimes it’s just a matter of playing around with index cards until something clicks.

As for the technical aspects of actually learning to use all the features that might help, don’t try to do too much at once. If you think it would be helpful to build your outline with index cards, then read the manual and tutorial sections and watch the videos on index cards. While it’s possible to assign all kinds of custom metadata to your index cards and then build collections around that metadata and create a Scrivenings session with just the unrevised scenes that have John and Martha at the castle … you don’t need to learn how to do all of that now. Once you know which features exist, you can just put them on a shelf until you have a specific use for them.