Okay. Downloaded 3 and want to use it here. I have five novels written (searching for a new agent as my current one has retired due to illness) and plan to try this with all future work including a MG series in progress. Is there anywhere to find a good quick start guide? Reasonably smart but not really a computer guy as most of my use is writing (Word) and email. Something simple and maybe not written in computerese?

  1. Quickest start is do the Tutorial you’ll find listed under the “Help” menu.
  2. Don’t think you need to get to grips with the whole thing from the beginning. Start with the little bit you need in order to start writing, and go back to the tutorial and the manual when you find you need to use each new feature.
  3. I’m sure people will recommend books or tutorial websites—Gwen Hernandez springs to mind as someone who has books and a website—but I’m not really au fait. You just need to be sure that the book/online course isn’t based round Scrivener v. 2.
  4. Come back here with any questions, but do the tutorial first, because then you’ll know what terms like, ‘project’ or ‘live project’, ‘backup’, ‘binder’, ‘folder’—e.g. a ‘folder’ in Scrivener is not a folder as in MacOS although the icon looks the same!—‘document’, ‘editor’, ‘outliner’, etc. refer to, which makes it easier to help us understand what you’re trying to do.

Welcome to the world of Scrivener.



After you’ve done the tutorial, your best bet is to start really using Scrivener with a new project, rather than one that you’ve already largely finished in Word.

There are two reasons. First, Scrivener’s “skillset” is tilted toward research, organization, and writing, not publishing. And second, a pre-existing manuscript will force you to address relatively “advanced” Scrivener tasks at an earlier stage of the learning curve than would otherwise be the case, and potentially with a deadline looming. That’s a recipe for frustration.


I may be more cautious than others, but after I downloaded the free trial of Scrivener some years ago, I was unwilling to trust current work to a new and unfamiliar program. So I took an old, finished short work I had that was only three chapters, imported it, and played with it.

I did go through the tutorial and, as recommended above, only paid attention to those things I would need immediately. One thing I made sure of was that I could get my work out of Scrivener in a format I could use. In my case that meant .rtf, but whatever my end plan was, I’d want to make sure I could do it easily before hitting a panic with a new novel, a deadline, and problems with the Compile feature.

I also set up and checked out backups pretty thoroughly.

Posts here and there refer to Scrivener’s steep learning curve. Doing it like eating an elephant I didn’t find it so, but to this day I haven’t explored many features. Reading here keeps me aware of possibilities, and if I get into a situation where something I’m vaguely aware of would work well in a particular situation, I look that thing up and incorporate it.

This is great advice. Reading the tutorial with a view to what you want to get out of the program so that you just focus on using those features, and messing around with Compile so that you know how to get your work out, will make you feel a lot more comfortable early on. I don’t use all of the features, and I created and program Scrivener. :slight_smile: