I’ve used Scrivener for a long time, on over a hundred projects, and I’ve never found the program to be all that complex. But that’s because I use only about half of its features. I type, arrange, clip, split the screen, search for key phrases, and occasionally run the dreaded Compile. Recently I learned to give all new Research items a colored label. Hence my Research outline remains the same, but I can easily find its new evidence.
Most of the manuals I’ve read understandably explain the interface and all the functions, and that’s fine, but what I could use is a more task-oriented approach, arranged from basic to more complex.
- Converting early files into Scrivener projects.
- Separating Draft and Research contents.
- Arranging those contents by time, place, persons, topics, file-types or other criteria.
- Experimenting with structure in fiction, non-fiction, film, screenplay, etc.
- Looking for patterns (Search) and saving them (Collections) to keep or discard.
- Moving on: creating a version for others to read via Export, Scrivenings, or Compile.
- Sample projects or usage scenarios from the many suggested on our user forum.
Ideally, this would be platform-independent, online, linked to the manual and video tutorials, and emended by users. Often the tasks vary according to genre or user situation, but in general most of us are gathering data, arranging it, and looking to extract bits that evolve into finished writing.
The product manual actually does this: every unit is task-oriented, but at very great length and that creates the impression of overwhelming complexity. Most new users don’t have the patience to absorb 500+ pages of instruction; they want to learn by doing, and the video tutorials are a great help in that regard.
If I were teaching a group of novices to work in Scrivener, I’d use the manual and tackle it in six segments, matching the book’s order. Whether six days, weeks, or months, we’d adjust the amount of detail accordingly. And also with attention to the kinds of writing desired. Finally, to deliver this content, and to make it interactive, some brave soul would conduct online sessions via Google Hangouts or Skype.
I am NOT volunteering, but I think others in our community could do this very well! And here endeth the vision statement. Next stop is Scrivener U.