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Any Words of Advice for a Scrivener Noob? #IWSG

By 03/10/2012blog, IWSG
Insecure Writer's Support Group

Insecure Writers!

It is Insecure Writer’s Support Group time, and I’m at a loss about what insecurity to post about. Which, I suppose, is a good thing.

I’m in this calm place where I can write without hope and without despair (The phrase is borrowed from writer friend Zafar Anjum, my sentiments echo his). I’m okay to just write and become better, let consequences take care of themselves. No expectations, no shortcuts, no anguish.

What I’m struggling with instead is Scrivener. Blog friend Corinne Flynn was one of the first people to recommend it, and I’ve got myself a trial version. But I haven’t taken her advice, which was to patiently sit through the tutorial — so I’m struggling with the simplest of tasks, like compiling documents. About ready to give up.

Anyone else have a (good or bad) Scrivener story to share? Words of advice for a Scrivener noob?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • I have been collecting differnet story ideas on the corkboard. Recently I expanded a note by clicking on “scene” at the top of the corkboard and wrote a longer entry. But now when I go back to ‘corkboard’ view, I cannot see all the notes I have collected over the past months (just a blank corkboard). Can anyone help with getting back to the original corkboard view with all my notes?

  • Julie Glover says:

    I just took an online course in Scrivener from Gwen Hernandez (the author of Scrivener for Dummies). It was GREAT! I highly recommend it for anyone interested in getting the most out of that software. Well worth my $30. (

  • Thanks for posting this and everyone for commenting – I’ve been thinking about purchasing it for a couple of years – but I would have tried to work it out myself … now I know… watch the tutorials!

  • I’ve been using it since the early beta versions of Windows (several years.) I highly recommend it. I apologize that I don’t have time to do a huge write-up and tut for you, but if you email me at the email address that I put on this reply (you should be able to see it since you admin the blog) I’d be more than happy to help you out with any questions you have, and even walk you through some things through screen sharing. 🙂

    If for some reason you can’t see the email address, please, definitely let me know in a reply (or pop over to my website and fill out my contact form; I promise I’m not trying to promote; just a way to get in touch with me) and I will definitely find a way to get in touch with you!

    Michelle Dear
    eBookSwag Co-Founder and Owner

  • Damyanti says:

    I get it, Larry, Bettie. I NEED to do that tutorial — always knew Corinne was right :). Heather, you won’t be disappointed in litreactor.

  • Heather Murphy says:

    I haven’t tried Scrivener yet but I plan to check it out. Thanks for the advice on litreactor too. I will check it out

  • Larry Kollar says:

    Compiling is the only part of Scrivener that I’ve found to be a pain. The thing to remember is that Scrivener separates formatting from content—this is actually an advantage, when you have disparate outputs such as Word and eBook formats. I’ve used a lot of other writing tools that work like this, and Scrivener is easier than most to deal with.

    Go through the manual, try different things until you’re happy with the output, then save the settings. You’ll get there.

  • Bettielee says:

    Yes. DO THE TUTORIAL! It is quite pleasant, and will unveil the ease of use. you will wonder that you couldn’t figure it all out before. I only use half the features – I love the ability to put my research in the file – like photos, pdf’s, even web links. There are character portfolios, etc. It’s great. Do the tutorial. Really.

  • Damyanti says:

    Booohooohoo. Thanks everyone. I need to go read the tutorials. There seem to be no shortcuts to Scrivener, and the payoff of sitting through hours of Tutorial seems worth the effort. Noted, sigh.

  • Arlee Bird says:

    I’ve never tried Scrivener, but it certainly looks like a pretty useful tool for writing. I tend to do things the old fashioned way. Well, I do use Word instead of pen and paper, but that’s about as advanced as I get.

  • amyeyrie says:

    Scrivener is brilliant. Make sure you start with folders which will become chapters. Make sure you set your margins. Once you get through the compile feature step by step, you will find the program perfectly formats your document.

  • ciaraballintyne says:

    You totally need to watch the tutorials. I started using Scrivener earlier this year, and when it came time to rearrange the order o some chapters, and some scenes within chapters, and then to add new scenes, it made the whole thing such a breeze. What would have taken probably hours of copying, pasting, cutting, and cross-checking in a Word document took literally ten minutes in Scrivener.

  • latinmusicrd says:

    who perseveres wins, keep the faith and believe in yourself and you’re a great writer

  • I love that program! But, I did watch the tutorials. I think they really help.

  • I really like Scrivener but I hate video tutorials…call me old school, I guess. I ordered the Scrivener for Dummies book from Amazon. I have stored a ton of research, character photos and notes, future book notes and 34 chapters of my current mystery WIP as well as my three chapter in romance WIP.

    I used the Manuscript template to get started and I have compiled to text (single chapters for critiquing), to .mobi for a friend to read sample book and both .rft & .pdf for hubby to read my chapters up to date.

    The biggest hint I was given to play with the levels to get it to list the chapters the way you want. My notes are on my other laptop, but once I played with it and tried compile to different formats, it made sense.

  • Fel Wetzig says:

    I can only repeat what everyone has said, watch the tutorial. I tried to figure it out on my own, but had to give in and do the tutorial. Since I learned to use it, I don’t want to organize my stories with anything else.

  • Rebecca Bradley says:

    Like you, I’d probably jump in without watching tutorials and get completely lost. I have heard great things about Scrivener though so I imagine its worth working through. I hope to get myself organised and try it myself one day.

  • Sorry, I haven’t tried that one yet. But sounds like your head’s in the right place for writing.

  • It is a great program, but not easy. You have to do the tutorial. And then you will constantly look up issues as you continue to use it. I don’t even use it to its full potential. Keep at it.

  • Allison says:

    I absolutely love Scrivener! I actually wrote my IWSG post on it last month. ( My advice is to take your friend’s advice and go through the tutorial. I actually found it really interesting and learned everything about the functions from there. I don’t know if I would have been able to figure everything out without going through it.

  • Good luck Damyanti, you’re a braver woman than I am. I haven’t tried it….yet 😉


  • Rusty Webb says:

    I just started using scrivener myself. Watch the tutorials. You’ll be lost if you don’t. I just put a short story up on kindle with it and it did a great job converting the file. I’ve been so happy so far.

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