Are you planning to tackle 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month in November? Here are some of my favorite Scrivener features for staying on track.
When you get stuck in your manuscript—can’t think of the perfect dialogue, realize you don’t know the right word, feel like you need to do more research on the topic—make a note using an annotation or a comment and get back to rockin' the words. You can use Find by Formatting in December to revisit the spots that need more work.
– Annotations: Format—>Inline Annotation
– Comments: Format—>Comment
– Find by Formatting: Edit—>Find—>Find by Formatting
Get a nice visual cue for how you’re doing with project targets. Set the Draft (Manuscript) Target to 50,000 and the Session Target to 1667, and let Scrivener keep track of your progress. You can leave the Project Targets window open or closed while writing.
– Mac: Project—>Show Project Targets (NOTE: Mac users can go into the Options pane, set a deadline, and let Scrivener calculate/adjust the daily target automatically.)
– Windows: Project—>Project Targets
Full Screen/Composition Mode
Block out distractions with Full Screen (Windows) or Compositon (Mac) mode. You can keep the black background, change the color, or even add an image. I like images that are conducive to calm and creativity, but lately I’ve been using pictures that remind me of the setting of my story and keep me in that mood.
– Change the background color (Mac): Scrivener—>Preferences—>Compose, under Customizable Colors, choose Background and click the color box
– Change the background color (Windows): Tools—>Options—>Appearance, under Colors, choose Full Screen—>Background, and click the color box
– Use an image (Mac): View—>Composition Backdrop, choose an image from the Binder or your computer
– Use an image (Windows): View—>Full Screen Backdrop, choose an image from the Binder or your compute
NaNoWriMo Edition and Template
Current Scrivener users can download a special NaNoWriMo template that comes loaded with predefined project statistics and compile settings.
If you’re new to Scrivener, there’s a NaNo version of the free trial that gives you extra time to play with the program and includes the template I mentioned above. If you decide you love Scrivener, wait for the NaNoWriMo discount at the end of November before you buy!
You can import your supporting materials—research, notes, and images—in advance. Simply drag them from your computer’s file system into the Binder, or go to File—>Import. Are you a plotter? Pre-plot your manuscript using the Corkboard, or just write out your ideas on a blank document stored outside the Draft folder. And you might want to add another document for storing ideas for changes or new scenes that come to you while writing.
Don’t forget that NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun and empowering. Enjoy the process, write fast and loose, and don’t censor yourself. Even if you don’t “win,” you’ll probably still surprise yourself with how much you can write in a day or a week. No matter what the final word count, any progress toward your novel still makes you a winner.
After a year off, I’ve decided to rejoin the NaNo craziness, and I’ll be taking advantage of Scrivener to keep me on pace.
Are you taking up the NaNo challenge this year? Is it your first year? Your tenth? I’d love to know. And good luck! (I’m gmhernandez at nanowrimo.org if you want to add me as a buddy.)
Need help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session.
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Wendy Van Camp
Wendy Van Camp