Like many of my friends, I like a simple, step-by-step guide when learning something new. So I’ve decided to capture how to use Scrivener, the greatest writer’s tool invented since the ballpoint pen, and show you how to crank out something impressive.
If you have no clue what Scrivener is, their own videos should whet your appetite. Assuming you are up and running, let’s dive in!
- Assuming you are inside your wonderful book (in my case, Darklight), hit the Compile button.
- You’ll be thrown into something filled with more options than a blue plate diner. I kind of like the look-and-feel Scrivener can give you for print ready things, so where it says “Format As”, select Paperback Novel.
- On the left hand side are a series of options. Let’s start by picking Content, and then ensuring you have selected Manuscript from the binder.
- On Print Settings, make sure Publishing is selected.
- Separators is kind of neat. Ever notice those like “* * *” between scenes in a book? This is where you get to set them. “Text” is what is known as a scene break and “Folder” is a chapter break, so you can pick options like “Page Break” as a folder separator, and some custom separator like “* * *” to put between scenes. If you’re not sure what each what one means, there’s a short sentence describing it perfectly.
- Formatting. This part can get really confusing. This is where you can decide what chunks of stuff are shown. There are different levels. When you pick a given thing (Level 1+, Level 1, etc.) it will highlight the piece of the binder where this applies. It lists “Title”, “Meta”, “Synopsis”, “Notes” and “Text”. Essentially, you can print/not print these various aspects. Ever read a book that opens every chapter with an encyclopedia entry? (Think DUNE or THE FOUNDATION) You can enter this text the chapter level and flip it on here. None of that? No problem. Clicking on “Title” for each level and “Text” for the Level 1. Nothing short of tinkering to find
- Formatting >> Options…. Pick “Remove first paragraph indents” “At the start of each new document”, and you’ll get that professional style of the first paragraph of every scene not being indented.
- Formatting >> Section Layout. Title Prefix and Suffix is where Scrivener will automatically plug in “Chapter 1”, “Chapter 2”, etc. No need to manually number your chapters. First Page is where you can do things like “make the first three words of a new section upper case (small caps even!). You can also make each chapter or scene start on a recto or verso page. (I can never remember which is which, so if you want this, just try it).
- Title Adjustments. Got a Prologue or Epilogue that needs to NOT be numbered like other chapters? Click on the little gear icon, and check those chapters to exclude them from being counted.
- Layout. I’ve read some books that only put the “* * *” when the scene break happens at a page wrap, where you can’t spot an extra line. This is the place to do that.
- Transformations. Probably don’t need this unless you are down converting your material into some format that doesn’t allow things like italics, underlining, or other stuff. (I once submitted a query that only allowed pure text. Would have been perfect.)
- Replacements. I don’t use this.
- Statistics. Nothing to do here.
- Tables. I have none in my works, so no comment here.
- Footnotes. I haven’t written that required such a feature. If you use it, let me know!
- Page Settings. This one is critical. There are several things to tailor your output so I’ll break them down into section.
- Page Settings >> Page Setup. When creating a camera ready PDF for CreateSpace or whomever, you need to pick the trim size. It’s a fancy expression for page size. This where you can specify things like 6″x9″, 5″x8″, etc. It delegates this out to your native system, so Windows and Mac users may have a different experience.
- Page Settings >> Margins. After picking your trim size (which seems to translate into metric on my own system), you can then pick the margins. This is where Scrivener really shines. When you picked Paperback Novel earlier, it converted left/right margins to alternate such that the spine of the book has a little more margin than the outer parts. This picture shows 1″ top and bottom as well as 1″ outer and 0.5″ inner. This is where you can grab your favorite paperback and measure their margins, making your work look like it.
- Page Settings >> Header and Footer/First Pages/Facing Pages. This is the content at the top and bottom of every page. I really like left pages being left formatted, and right pages, right formatted. The following shows me putting the title and page number of my manuscript on the left, and my name/page on facing pages. This really makes your camera ready document shine like real books. Finally, you can pick a different font and size for headers and footers at the bottom.
- Quick Font Override. Skip.
- With all these settings, you just need to pick the output. Always, always, ALWAYS Compile for PDF. PDF files make the world go around. Everyone can see them. Everyone accepts them. It’s a quick and easy proof.
- Click Export and wait for it to turn the crank.
So let’s take a little peek at my own novel, DARKLIGHT, and see it’s output.
For starters, the prologue came out beautifully. I excluded it back on Title Adjustments, and see how it’s not numbered?
Hmm. I can see that the first sentence, though unindented (as expected), does NOT have the first n words capitalized. Need to go back to Formatting >> Section Layout and tweak that.
Chapter One looks good. The text I have in Scrivener appears as the subheading for the chapter (see screenshot below of my binder, with Prologue and He’ Coming). Of course, I need to get first n words capitalized.
Now let’s checkout the headers as well as the margin of the spine.
Okay, the margins looks okay. They are bigger at the spine than the edges, but I think that’s still a bit much for a paperback.
And yikes, I got the headers backwards! Oh well, live and learn, right? Need to go back to Page Settings >> Headers and Footers.
So, after fiddling with margins, opening scenes, and headers, things look a little better.
And look! The headers look MUCH better.
Looks like enough to go fiddle with and fine tune. Hope that gets you going and compiling your Scrivener manuscript.