So you’ve downloaded Scrivener’s free trial and you’re not sure where to start? Here’s how to get your project set up (and get back to writing) in five minute flat:
Open the Scrivener application and go to File -> New Project. Don’t worry if you already have a draft of your project started in Word or another program. I’ll teach you to import it in just a minute.
Select the type of project you’re working on. I write fiction, so I’m going with novel. If the “with parts” option is giving you pause, don’t worry, you can always add parts later. Click “Choose” at the bottom right.
You’ll be prompted to save the file to your computer, then you’ll get a screen that looks like this:
You can ignore the intro to the Novel Format. The template is super intuitive and easy to use. Or, you know, go ahead and read it, but you don’t have to.
Now, if this is your first day as a writer, and you’re starting with word one, click on the word “Scene” next to that white page icon in the left column, and just start writing. Congrats. You figured out Scrivener.
Importing to Scrivener
It’s been my experience that most people come to Scrivener after already having a pretty good start on a manuscript. So let’s talk about importing. First, click on the word “Manuscript” in the left column there. That’s where you want your imported material to land. Then, go to File -> Import -> Import and Split…
Chose the file you want to import from the pop up window and then BEFORE CLICKING “IMPORT” designate where you want Scrivener to put the chapter breaks. You do that in this window:
If you don’t see this window, click “Options” at the bottom left there to make it show.
You’ll notice the preset is for “#” What’s far more likely is that you’ve used the word “Chapter” at the beginning of each chapter, so you can change this from # to Chapter. Alternately, you can back out of this window and go through your manuscript in Word to add a # symbol where you want Scrivener to break it. Or you can import your manuscript as one big block and break it up later. It’s super easy to do.
Keep in mind that nothing you do here is undoable. One of the great things about Scrivener is that it’s super flexible, so just go ahead and get started.
So here’s what it looks like after I hit import:
I don’t like that empty scene hanging out there, so I would delete that. Just click on it, then click the trash icon at the top of the window.
And you can reorganize things with more or fewer files. You add files by clicking the + icon at the top of the window, and you can move things around by clicking and dragging. You can change the names of files by clicking on them. Like I said, it’s pretty intuitive, so don’t be afraid to mess around a little.
Now give yourself a pat on the back. You did it. You have concurred Scrivener. You can learn all the bells and whistles as you go along and, in fact, there are a lot of cool things you can do with your manuscript now that you’ve imported it, but the most important thing you can do is write.
So go write.