scrivener help

Scrivener Tips: The Scratch Pad

This is another Scrivener Tip from Writer’s in the Grove. We will be presenting a series of Scrivener workshops soon in Forest Grove, Oregon. Until then, or after, if you have a question about how to use Scrivener, let us know and we’ll do our best to help you out.

Scrivener - Scratch Pad on Tools Menu - Writers in the Grove.Ever get a new idea, a bit of inspiration, as you are writing? I used to turn to a piece of paper or sticky note to jot down my idea, but found that by the time I made the note and switched back to my writing program, I’ve lost track of what I’m writing. Moving my eyes from the computer screen and fingers from the keyboard invites distraction. Luckily, Scrivener offers a way to make notes and keep on writing.

The Scrivener Scratch Pad is built into Scrivener and can be accessed by:

  • Windows: Tools > Scratch Pad or CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+P

You can add a note to it quickly with a mouse from within the Scratch Pad window. Click the T for Text in the bottom left corner to create a new note and start typing.

Scrivener Scratch Pad - examples - Writers in the Grove.

You can add as many notes as you wish in the Scratch Pad.

You can send the note to Scrivener later as the start of a new plot shift or poem.

  1. Select the note.
  2. Click Send file to Scrivener.

Two options will appear to either copy it to a specific file or new one, or append text to another text, adding it to the bottom. You can also select a portion of the note and send just the selected text.

One of the cool things about the Scratch Pad in Scrivener is that the notes persist between projects. You can make notes on other projects that pop into your head or you discover while researching another project. Think of all the ways you can use the Scratch Pad in Scrivener to deal with these thoughts while staying focused on the task at hand.

For more tips, see “Using the Scratch Pad in Scrivener” by The Digital Researcher, and the following:

Scrivener: Names and Autocomplete

In this ongoing series on Scrivener, you should have the basics under your belt. Let’s dive a little deeper into those basics with your new imported project or with the blank project we created early on in these tutorials. In this tutorial I’ll cover the Name Generator and Autocomplete Suggestion features in Scrivener.

One of the great tools Scrivener includes is a Name Generator. It helps you to generate possible character names.

To access it, go to Tools > Writing Tools > Name Generator.

Scrivener - Tools - Options - Writing Tools - Name Generator - Lorelle

The Name Generator generates random character names and can be customized to generate names specific to region and cultural areas for male, female, or both. You can set the the generator by first and last name letters or include specific letters. You can even search for names with specific meanings. (more…)

Scrivener: Split Screen Feature

In this ongoing series on Scrivener, the powerful writing software tool, I’ve been helping you learn about the basic features of Scrivener including the organizational benefits of Scrivener, starting a blank Scrivener project, and tips on how to use the Scrivener Research section in the Binder. This tutorial is about one of the powerful features of Scrivener, the split screen.

Many of us use white boards, sticky posts, notebooks, scratch paper, even napkins for our notes and ideas. We create storyboards with pictures of our characters tapped to them along with maps, drawings, photographs of places and things, and all the bits and pieces of visual information we use to write our stories. In Scrivener, there are many ways to duplicate that same process.

Using the Split Screen in Scrivener

Scrivener - Split Screen buttons on interface - Lorelle VanFossenIn the test Scrivener project you’ve been experimenting with, let’s pretend that you are writing your draft novel in it and you wish to refer back to a detail in a scene you wrote in Chapter 1 from Chapter 2.

Click on one of the Chapter 2 scene sections you created in the tutorial on creating folders and files or chapters and sections in Scrivener.

Where the title is above the content area and below the toolbar, look to the far right. You will see a down arrow, up arrow, and two split boxes.

Click the box with a split down the middle.

This is the vertical split screen view. You should see two versions of the same text file. (more…)

Scrivener: The Research Binder

In this ongoing series on Scrivener, the powerful writing software tool, so far I’ve given you a basic overview introduction, including a collection of two Scrivener bootcamp videos to help you get started and see the possibilities in the writing program, and talked about the organizational benefits of Scrivener. Continuing with this Scrivener tutorial series, we are going to work on the blank Scrivener project you created in the previous tutorial, and in this tutorial, I want to share with you tips for using the Research section of the Binder and introduce you to the Inspector. In the next in this series, I’ll show you how to use your research with the Split Screen Feature of Scrivener.

As a reminder, Scrivener by Literature and Latte is available as a free trial version and is a deal at the current sale price of USD $40 for Windows and Mac. Compared to Microsoft Office, this is seriously inexpensive and a very powerful writing and editing tool.

Along the left side of Scrivener’s interface is the Binder, your index listing all of the documents, files, notes, writings, etc., within your Scrivener project. Remember, in Scrivener, don’t think of what is in it as a single document like you would with MS Word. Think of it as the binder or file cabinet for your entire writing project(s). Inside of it you will have the draft of the manuscript, your research notes, files, photographs, maps, whatever you need to help you write.

Scrivener - Draft and Research Sections of Binder - Lorelle VanFossen

In the most basic installation of Scrivener using a blank template project, you will have two key sections: Draft and Research. We’ve covered the very basics of creating folders and text files in the Draft section. Let’s explore the Research section. (more…)

Scrivener: Getting Started with a Project

In this ongoing series on Scrivener, the powerful writing software tool, let’s start from scratch with a new Scrivener project and take you step-by-step through the process.

Download and install the free or paid version of Scrivener by Literature and Latte.

When you launch the program for the first time, it will invite you to go through the interactive training session. I recommend it, but that’s your choice.

Scrivener - New Project and Project Templates Screen - Lorelle VanFossenTo create a new project:

  1. Go to File > New Project
  2. You have a choice to use an existing template or create a blank document. For this tutorial, create a blank document.
  3. Enter a file name where it says Save As:
  4. Click Browse to set the project in a folder where you can find it later. You may create a new folder in the file manager that pops up.
  5. Click Create

Scrivener Blank Project - Lorelle VanFossen for Writers in the Grove

In front of you is a blank canvas ready for your thoughts. (more…)

Scrivener: Free How to Use Book

Scrivener - Your Guide to Scrivener The Ultimate Tool for Writers by Nicole Dionisio - book coverYour Guide to Scrivener, the Ultimate Tool for Writers by Nicole Nionisio is available right now with a direct download for Scrivener users for free. Right click on the link and choose to save the file or target as to save this to your computer. You may also copy it to Kindle or an ebook reader if you wish.

This is a step-by-step manual for Scrivener users guiding you through the process. It covers both Mac and Windows versions, though focuses mostly on Mac. There are some differences between the two versions, but less with every new release.

If you would like to buy the book, it is available as an ebook from

Other books available for sale include:

Scrivener: Organize Your Writing and Thinking

Filing System for Writing and Research - Lorelle VanFossen.In the first of these Scrivener tips and tutorials series, I basically covered “What is Scrivener?, and hopefully you have a better idea about what Scrivener is and how it may help with your writing. I also suggested two Scrivener Bootcamp videos to help you really dive into Scrivener with great tips and techniques by a professional journalist and bestselling author.

In this Scrivener tip, I want you to think of Scrivener as a giant binder. In that binder, you have dividers and tons of paper and photographs you need to organize.

Yes, we are going to start with visualizations. This will help you learn how Scrivener works and how to change your writing style and habits in and around it, and help you learn new words associated with Scrivener.

Imagine all the research you’ve done on your poems, stories, novel, and manuscript. You may have photographs to inspire your thoughts to a place, time, or person. You may have maps pinpointing locations and paths traveled. If you are really diving deeply into a novel or memoir, you probably have research files, digital and paper, the results of days, months, maybe years of studying the topic, place, and people you are writing about. You may have plot outlines, character sketches, and tons of notes.

How do you currently store all this information?

The digital files are most likely stored in folders, either in a collective dump or sorted by topic, place, and possibly date. To access them, you open your file management program and track them down, or open the program you use to view and work with them and hunt for them from there. This typically is Microsoft Word, PhotoShop, or variations on those popular word processing and photo editing programs.

Web pages are typically bookmarked, only accessible when you are online and connected to the web. You might have organized these by folders and subfolders, but it is also likely that you just marked them all as bookmarks in your web browser, the giant dumping ground for web pages you wish to return to in the future.

Tangible materials like papers, print-outs from the web, photographs, magazine and newspaper clippings, paintings, notes, napkins with notes…all these things are either in piles or sorted into folders in a filing cabinet.

Let’s see, you are multiple programs for accessing digital materials. You have reams of paper stuffed into files and folders, and that big metal filing cabinet collecting dust in the corner of your office a few steps from your computer desk. (more…)