Useful Tools: Scrivener

Useful Tools: Scrivener
Natalie Bright
So many times I have heard, “I’ve had an idea for a book for so long, but I don’t know how to start.”
Start anywhere! Just write it. The truth is you don’t have to write a novel in perfect sequence from beginning to end. Listen friends, the honest truth is that first draft will be total crap.
If you’re like most writers I know, you wake up with character dialogue or pieces of scenes playing out in your head. Start writing the scene or bits of dialogue as soon as you can. You’ll put it in order later. Scrivener makes it easy to do that.
For my current WIP, I knew the ending would be a snow storm, so I wrote that scene first. This climactic scene has to be intense and self-revealing for the main character, so it’s good that I had the bones first and am now able to intensify the internal dialogue and sharpen the imagery. I keep working and reworking that scene as I develop earlier chapters which will lead me to that final scene. In between times, I finally decided where to start the story so I am labeling the text folders in chronological order:
Saturday noon
Saturday pm
Monday am
Monday afternoon
Monday dinner
Tuesday am
Tuesday mid-morning
Wednesday noon
and so forth, up until
Friday snow storm
Scrivener makes it possible to insert scenes easy, or move them around with no problem.
In the creative process, you are your own worst enemy. Don’t over think this. Write the scenes that are in your head and fill the imagery with the emotions from your heart.
Once you have the bones in a rough draft form, that’s when the fun really begins allowing you to edit and polish to perfection.
Keep writing and stay sane!

Scene by Scene Story Building with Scrivener

Scene by Scene Story Building with Scrivener
Natalie Bright
An author’s process is fascinating to me. Some writers stay in a perfectly synchronized flow writing the same time every day, powering through that first draft until the end before editing. Some writers edit as they go, refusing to move on to the next chapter until the current chapter is perfect. And then the rest of us fall somewhere in between using a host of ideas about creativity, I think. For me, it’s a combination of all of the above. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way.
Take my current WIP for example, I knew the ending would be a snowstorm and that something will happen on Christmas Eve before I even knew the opening scene. So I wrote the ending first because it was hot on my mind and I couldn’t work on anything else until I got that scene out of my head. Only then did I begin to think about Chapter 1. I like having character profiles completed with an understanding of how the minor characters will relate to my main characters and why.
This book is coming together so fast, but it’s a scramble in my head. Characters are jumping out of nowhere. The only way I can keep things straight is to use Scrivener.
Each folder of text is labeled as a day of the week because I know that by week’s end my main character will be trapped in a barn in the middle of a Texas Panhandle norther. I just have to get her to that barn, and make her life as miserable as possible until then. The folders are labeled accordingly: Monday, Monday noon (a lunch scene), Monday late afternoon, Tuesday morning, and so forth. The title of each section of text is a chronological order with day of the week and location and notes about the action on that day, but that’s where any order of writing ends.
If I wake up with a specific scene in my head, I write that scene. I am three scenes into the snowstorm, but have no middle to my story. Seems crazy, right? Scrivener makes it so easy. If I wrote that action for a Tuesday but decide it should be happening on a Thursday, I can move that folder up in the order. And I can look at the corkboard view to determine the basic outline of my story and what is lacking. I try not to think about how crazy this book is coming together because in my day job everything is numbers, exact, and deadlines. The creative process is so far removed from anything I’ve ever done before.
Does anyone else write in a frenzy of chaos, where the story is coming so fast in your brain your fingers can’t type fast enough? Just wondering.
Stay safe and stay sane. Have a happy, productive week!

Writing Brains & Scrivener

Writing Brains & Scrivener

Natalie Bright

Scrivener software totally gets my writing brain. The more I work in this software, the more I’m amazed at all it can do.

For example, this morning the opening scene for the second book of my Texas Frontier Series popped in my head. BAM! There it was. I am almost 10,000 words into the first draft and the opening chapter I’ve already written is absolutely wrong. Does this ever happen to you? I kept replaying the new scene in my head, over and over until I could get to the keyboard.

Here’s where Scrivener makes your life easy: Within the file that you designate as chapter, you can add a new text file. The chapters will autromatically renumber when you compile the final document. No renumbering pages or worrying about chapter numbers. No cutting and pasting to shift the work. I have a seperate text file for each scene and these scenes can be moved easily around within the manuscript document. That first scene may not be the opeing by the time I reach 30,000 words. No problem. The ‘scene’ file can be shifted to any order within the project file.

For more explaination, here’s the link to watch a great video from the creator of Scrivener:

I also recommend the online class,

Stay tuned for more tidbits about this powerful writing tool. Are you using Scrivener? What has been your experience with Scrivener?

The Scrivener Corkboard

The Scrivener Corkboard

By Rory C. Keel


The Scrivener writing software by, has a wonderful feature for those who love to storyboard called Corkboard. The way to get to the Corkboard is to first open Scrivener and look in the tool bar for a section called “Group Mode,” It looks something like this picture.


Now click on the middle button of the three. This should put you into the Corkboard.

In this view, you can find options for your Corkboard in the right-hand corner at bottom of the page. It will look something like this.


With these buttons you can change the view from “arranged” placement of the cards to the “freeform Corkboard” which allows you to move each card around to change their order.

You will also notice a third button allowing you to set the Corkboard options, such as the size of card, card ratio, spacing and number of cards across the Corkboard.

Another way to access your Corkboard cards is through the “Inspector” button at the top right-hand corner of the tool bar.


With a click of this button, the Inspector will open on the right–hand side of your screen and contain note sections including your Corkboard notecard. By pressing the notecard button in the inspector view, you can toggle between the notecard or a picture section.


For even more adjustments to your Corkboard, in the Scrivener tool bar, go to the word Scrivener > Preferences > Corkboard.


In the tool bar of this view, click on the Corkboard and you can adjust your board background colors and patterns, card line colors, fonts etc…

I hope this helps you use the Corkboard and get more out of the Scrivener writing program.

Find the Perfect Name with Scrivener

Find the Perfect Name with Scrivener

By Rory C. Keel

For several years now, I have been using the Scrivener writing program to do my writing. For me, it is the greatest program that allows me to outline, storyboard, edit and write all within a neatly organized package.

With all the bells and whistles, it would be hard to list them all or explain how to use them in one blog. However, I do want to share some of the interesting features this wonderful program holds.

Have your ever written a story with a character that needed a better name? You know, the Bob or Sally that would really make your story a bestseller if they had a better name.

Well, Scrivener can help you find that perfect name. Tucked neatly away in the Writing tools is a built-in name generator.

Here’s how you find it. Above the tool bar find the word “EDIT,” follow down the menu until you see the word “Writing Tools.” When you place your curser over the word a side menu should appear, and at the bottom you should see the “Name generator.”

With the click of your mouse or scroll pad, the Name Generator should appear in a small window.

The first decision you will need to make is how many names do you want the program to generate? You will see a scroll bar numbered from 1-500, simply slid the marker to number you want to choose from.

Next you will notice the small gear button near the bottom of the window, click it. At this point, you need to make several other choices, such as do you want MALE or FEMALE names? You can set alliteration options, number of forename or surnames, initials, and obscurity level of the names.

You will also find a menu to choose the ethnicity of the name you wish to find. Once you check the appropriate box or boxes, find the long button on the previous menu that says “Generate Names,” and click. The blank screen will suddenly fill with names from which to choose the right name for your character.

I hope you find the perfect name.



By Natalie Bright

Re-typing 15,000 words for Book #2 of a middle grade adventure series set in the Wild West into Scrivener this week. At present, I write everything in Microsoft Word, including this blog post. It’s going to be a huge learning curve to retrain my brain.


Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.”

I heard about Scrivener when I discovered a great podcast for indie authors: Thriller author, Joanna Penn and several of her guests, claim to have greatly increased productivity by using this writing software.

Here’s what I really like about Scrivener:

The price! Only $40.

The ability to see my entire novel in a notecard format on the corkboard view. Each notecard can be labeled by chapter or scene, with notations for that scene or plot point. Attached to that notecard can be images, links for research, and the scene or chapter manuscript itself. Since I’m adding a mystery element to the WIP book, it helps me plan where I need to take the story.

I also like the project outline view which shows chapter and word count.


Image Credit: Tinted index cards on the corkboard view from

Editing Your Story made Easy

Scenes rarely come in sequential order. My writing brain has never worked that way. If you’re like me, elements of your current work in progress can hit you at the worst possible times. My brain is a swirl of images as the story plays out in my head. It’s usually coming faster than I can stop whatever I’m doing to jot a note. I’ve scribbled notes on lunch napkins, bank deposit slips, and grocery check-out receipts. Everything else in my life is structured and planned, but I’ve never been able to write a book from point A to point B to point C and so on.

With Scrivener, it’s really easy to find the place where that additional imagery or dialogue needs to be added. I can gather up all of my notes, and using the corkboard view, I can find right where the edits will fit. No more scrolling through a 60 page Word doc or sifting through stacks of printed pages trying to find a particular scene.

I’ll keep you posted on how this goes and what I’m learning.

Is anybody out there using Scrivener? Please share your thoughts, tips, likes, or dislikes.

Writing onward…