Setting up a Structured Story-Development Environment

Lord Lightning, this Fiction template is kickass, especially the Character Types section. I nearly always start Story Development from Characters - probably cos I wz performance poet before writing drama. Horoscopes are my best tool.

I just feel sorry for all my PC based friends, who can’t use Scrivener :wink:

Thanks Shege,

It gives me a warm glow of satisfaction when someone appreciates the years of work that went into putting together the material for the Master Fiction Template.

Thanks for making me smile. I know how Keith feels when someone says well done and thanks for Scrivener. I just can’t imagine life as a writer without it.


Lord Lightning,
Probably I forgot to thank you for the Master Fiction Template. It resumes more than half of the books in my writing manual bookshelf, so it couldn’t be more useful than that. Thank you!

Thanks Paolo,


Thanks for your thoughtfulness Greg! This is a great help to this Newbie!!!

I have tried to download and install the template as found here: … c&start=45

However, when I create a new project using this template, Scrivener ‘updates’ the project, and then opens an empty project with a trash can ONLY. This doesn’t seem quite right given the description of all the chapters, etc. I successfully imported another template, so I don’t think it is my inability to import (always a possibility though…). Is it possible to repost the PHD template to make sure the version is up to date? I would very much like to see it.


Just a guess, but it sounds like the template was created with a recent beta version and you’re using a release or earlier beta version. Make sure you’re using the latest beta and try again.

Hi mariagwyn,

mamster is right. It is important to use the latest version of Scrivener.

Are you using the method of importing the template found here: … php?t=1915

It is my reply to klindy using the NEW PROJECT BINDER - there is a picture there of how to do it.

  1. Open Scrivener and use the New Projects dialogue box.
    A drop-down menu at the bottom will let you locate the template and move it to your user Library/Application Support/Scrivener/Templates.

So the steps are firstly to just place the template PhD Template Qualitative Model.scrtpl on your desktop. The important bit is the .scrtpl suffix.

Secondly, open Scrivener then a new project. Now you are not actually opening a new project, that is where the little drop down menu is. It says, Templates. Click it and the Import/Export Templates menu drops down.

Click on Import Template(s).

Point it to the .scrtpl file on your desktop. It should then import it for you to your user Library/Application Support/Scrivener/Templates.

  1. If that is presenting problems, just manually put it in your user Library/Application Support/Scrivener/Templates.

Please don’t feel silly or anything if it will not work for you - let me know and I will try something else.

Hope that helps.

I just downloaded it and imported it and it works fine for me using version 1.08 of Scrivener.


LL and Mamster:

Thanks. I was not running the beta, I was on 1.03. I installed 1.08, and everything imported just fine. I will be sure to note any problems withe the beta on the appropriate thread, but so far, it seems to be running just fine. And I sort of like the phd template…someone is FAR FAR more organized than I, and I am glad to benefit.


I’m a struggling author and Scrivener “test driver.” I’ve been bouncing around various Mac word processors (Word, Nisus, Pages) but keep coming back to Word because of its outlining ability. However, the idea of supporting the Great Satan Gates annoys me.

I think this structured story template, combined with the short learning curve, makes Scrivener a Word replacement, and is probably the reason I’m going to buy.

My question: I’m pondering the difference between a pitch, a premise and a theme, as listed in the template. In my mind they’re interchangeable: a very brief summary of what the story is about. (This may be one of many reasons why I’m still a struggling author.)

Could a few of you expound on which is what?

Don Hollway

How about, for “Alien”:

Pitch: Jaws in space.

Premise: When a lethal alien invades a spaceship, the crew have to kill or be killed.

Theme: The will to survive.


So the pitch is what you’d tell the agent or editor – keeping it snappy and simple in view of their low intelligence. :wink:

The premise is the “TV Guide” one-line synopsis.

And the theme is that category of basic plots in which the story falls.

Or something like that?

Don Hollway

Yes, that is pretty close. It is helpful to remember that every pitch is a selling spiel. It therefore needs a USP - Unique Selling Proposition - all sizzle no sausage.

the writers guild in most countries run Pitching classes and competitions. Google the American and Australian Writers guild for good explanations of Pitching.

Try the Australian Film Commission for some good definitions:

And here:



You will discover that the outliner in Scrivener is superior. It’s called the Binder, the far left-hand pane. Each file is a single project. Drag all the bits and pieces of that project into the Binder. Arrange them in story order and begin to develop sections or chapters. See the Edit menu for ways to split and combine pieces, though drag-and-drop work as well. I have nearly stopped using Word, since Bean is great for letters, memos and reports.

This rings all the bells. Bean is an absolute sweetie of an app. Fast, clean, and simply powerful at what it does. Its greatest strength is that it does not try to be anything other than a simple word processor. I rate it, along with Scrivener, as an absolute must have. I’ll float Mellel if the cargo is heavy enough, but I still use Word - I have to. It reigns supreme in the Windowscentric corporate world, and I find that using Word is generally less stressful than not doing so. It just makes it easier to play with your playmates.

Ditto. It was tough to switch from OmniOutliner to Scrivener at first, because I couldn’t get my head around one of Scriv’s major concepts: all stories are constructed in pieces, and the docs in the Binder are just pieces in a hierarchy. For awhile, I had to convert the folder icons to file icons in order to really “see” the Binder as an outliner and not a desktop. (To the computer, there’s really no difference between a Scriv Binder folder and a Binder file. We’re the ones who make the metaphors.) Now I’m just as comfortable making a Scriv document be as short as a sentence or as long as book chapter, depending on context. You’ll get there!

It’s kind of ironic that I use the Binder as an outliner, and use the Outliner (which is sort of like a binder anyway) hardly at all.

And another ditto for Bean, although I wish it’d allow me to use my existing TextEdit styles. The developer (who’s very friendly and responsive, BTW) has told me he’ll consider adding that. He already added a Services clipping function at my request.

I’m a new Scrivener owner, mostly due to this template. Kudos to its author.

I’m interested in where the structure ideas for this template came from, as seen in the “Story Stages” (Ordinary World, Call to Adventure, etc.) and “Characters’ Roles.” (Hero, Mentor, Shadow, etc.)

I’ve read books with similar plot stages & character archetypes, but I’d like to find the one that follows the exact 14-step story stages in the template. (My book lists only 9.) I have a whole plot in my head, but I know I have a tendency to wander and I want to force it into this template, if only to see where I wander.

Most of the Myth form templates and treatises arise from the work of Joseph Campbell.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949. … sand_Faces

You will find most of the sources in the Research Binder folder. I used these sources and my own day to practices to make a set of templates that Scrivener and i both felt comfortable with. I have tried my best to keep the original works right at the the surface. There are no tricks or reworkings of the original materials - as you often see in the published work of people making money off other author’s work. I admire your desire to go back to sources. The sources are listed and generally well worth the effort. I just like to have the real book in my hands sometimes.

All the best - I know this stuff really works - but please be really flexible with it. I would strongly suggest not binding yourself to any particular template unless it is in the form of an experiment. The whole idea with these templates is to make them your own. Bend them. Break them up. Rework them. Save them then as your own templates.

There’s also the more accessible version, The Writer’s Journey, Chris Vogler’s take on Campbell’s ideas.

Thanks, guys! I’d heard of Campbell before, as George Lucas’ inspiration for the first Star Wars movies. (As opposed to the second Star Wars trilogy, which I believe was inspired by Mattel Corporation.) I couldn’t remember his name.

Just going over the book’s content description at Wikipedia was eye-opening. I bought the book.

You may now all stand back and watch me become a best-selling author. :wink: