Using Scrivener Backwards

I recently posted this bit of blather about the new way I’ve found to use Scrivener. In short, I use it backwards – I draft huge chunks of prose in Final Draft, where there is no temptation to do anything but write, then export each day’s work back into Scrivener, where I can revise, move stuff around, and generally fiddle (in a later, separate session).

The approach has been wildly successful for me – I make about 50% more sentences in a sitting, yet still have everything in Scrivener at the end of the day, where I can futz with it to my heart’s content.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard from two writers who do exactly the same thing. I was wondering if anyone else here finds themselves coming at Scrivener this way. Do you start somewhere else? Or is Scriv’s full screen mode enough to keep the fiddler in you at bay?

I have to fiddle as I go. If I’m in a situation that just needs to get something written for fiddling later, I’ll use fullscreen mode, make Scrivener resemble TextEdit and play a MMO while writing, or pull out Write or Die, depending on the circumstances.

I do have some projects in various stages of (in)completion from before I found Scrivener. I’m using Scrivener for edits and revisions, but I think I still prefer using it from the start. I use annotations too much to save alternate ways of wording things when I’m not yet sure how I want a line to go.

If you want distraction-free simplicity, you might try WriteRoom. It’s like Scrivener’s full-screen mode, but with nothing else to draw your attention away.

hogbaysoftware.com/products/writeroom

There’s also a iPhone/touch/iPad version for inspiration on the go and a website to automatically synch what you’re doing between multiple Macs or an iPhone/touch/iPad. That lets you avoid the hassle of remembering which gadget has the latest version.

–Michael W. Perry, Seattle

I am new to scrivener and a bit overwhelmed by all it can do. I will use it from the start for my next project (and am excited about that), but want to do another edit on an already written piece (300+ page novel), or using it “backwards” as the original post indicated.

What I’m not sure is how to go about that and would really appreciate tips on how to start? Would love any ideas you might offer!

thb - For my last rewrite I did as you describe. I imported my ‘final’ Word copy into a new Scriv project, then manually split the big document into shorter sections (I tend to have lots of small ‘chapters’ - others would call them ‘scenes’) using CMD + K - renaming the document in the binder, or if I’m using the chapter title as the heading Shift-CMD+K (or Document > Split).

It’s a pretty quick process for fiction writers without footnotes or endnotes to worry about. I then added in some blank documents for new scenes that I wanted to write. I’m using the synopsis field to remind myself what I want to edit in each section, and using status fields to remind myself what work I have to do. I also tend to use traffic light colouring in projects - red for problem, orange for minor issues and green for complete - makes it very easy to see how much work you have left (although most people here seem to use colour to represent viewpoint or period).

Not very sophisticated, but takes a lot less time to do than you’d think.

I’ve only just stumbled on this thread.

Yes, me too. Slightly problematic at the moment since I’m working in Movie Magic Screenwriter, which I much prefer to FD, and the round-trip – particularly in my non-movie-standard Stage Musical format – is a bit sketchy. It’s SO quick to draft in MMS, and SO easy to fool around with sequences and scenes in Scrivener that if and when I get it to play 100% nicely, it’ll be a marvel.

I also just persuaded That Woman to port the first, 150,000ww, MSWord draft of her next novel into Scrivener for the rewriting (two major structural changes from her editor, shedding 30,000ww and redrawing a leading character entirely). She dug her heels in, yelled, threatened to kill me, kill herself, call the police etc, sat there muttering “I hate it, I hate you, why isn’t it like Word?” for about four hours, then… silence. Now I can’t get her off the thing. It has, she says, saved her sanity. Well, we all know that, I think.

Actually I rather like Keith’s little Summarizer app, too. A tiny subset of Scrivener but it has a pretty elegance of its own.