The Gadgets of Writing: Scrivener Part II

January 14, 2015

Welcome to the second blog post on Scrivener in our three part series this month.  Today we’re going to talk about those things I do before I write that lays the foundation for the actual story to proceed.

First, let’s talk about character sketches:

I give every character a sketch like this:


Yes, that’s actually Lady Margaret Folton’s character sketch from To Save a Viscount.  Scrivener has a template that allows you to plug in the major points of a character and drag and drop in a picture of what you think the character looks like (Anna Kendrick for Maggie.  What do you think?).  The template allows me to create the character’s goal, motivation and conflict, so as I’m writing, I have the GMC in my head like a mantra, and every word I put down drives toward that point.

*This is also a great place to put in those little annoying facts that are hard to remember in a 90,000 word novel like what is Maggie’s butler’s name who is only mentioned once.  You know what I mean?

There’s a similar template for setting:

settingAgain, Scrivener has a built in template that allows you plug in the various aspects of a setting.  It can be a building, location, or even a space.  It’s whatever element is key to the story.

This was particularly important in the Spy Series books because setting often played a key role.  There were pivotal points in the plot that required a setting to have specific elements.  For example, when Jack is nearly killed by the falling gargoyle.  Yeah, I went there, and I had to make sure I knew ahead of time where this would take place and the specific, unique details that went into the scene to make it work.

And finally, there’s a section that allows you to save your research.  This is important, so check it out.

There’s a preset section for research found here:


Why is this important?  For me, it’s important because I write historical fiction and am a trained historian.  We historian types are very anal about getting things wrong when it comes to historical fiction.  You can ask Lady Barks-a-lot and Captain Licky.  They will no longer watch historical movies with me because I point out all of the inaccurate portrayals of history.  I’m that annoying.  (Think I made a historical goof in one of my books? Stay tuned for later blog posts on conscious decisions I made not to follow history.)

So research is super important.  That is why I save all of my online research like this:

research folder

This image is a little hazy because it’s a right-click menu, and it doesn’t stay open for me to go click my image capture program.  But you can see what I mean.  When you right click on the research folder, you get the menu saying Add and then Web Page…and when you click that:


You get this!  Which will automatically pull in the web address of any web page you have open on your computer.  You can then choose to add a title for this research page or not.  When you click okay, the page is saved in the right sidebar like this:


Cool, right?

That’s it for this week.   If you missed last week, we went through an overview of a Scrivener screen.

And next week, we’ll get the part you’ve all been waiting for: writing!

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