Scrivener is software that allows you to easily organise a large writing project, so that you can easily switch between scenes, arrange scenes into chapters, store your research, sort, categorise, and search. Then when you’re ready, you hit a button and it spits out a formatted manuscript or e-book. It has some neat features, like a full-screen clutter-free writing space, a random name generator, target wordcounts, and ‘snapshots’, which allow you to roll back and compare previous versions of scenes. You can get a free 30 day trial from their website and the cost of purchase is pretty low.
The one thing Scrivener doesn’t do is help you get started or coach you through structuring a story.
So I have designed myself a Scrivener template for outlining, filled with worksheets and noted up with explanations and examples to help me develop a story from embryonic idea to detailed outline / rough first draft.
- developing a story concept, with sources of inspiration and writing prompts
- step-by-step process for turning that concept into a three-act structure
- fleshing out your 3 Act structure with twists and subplots
- character worksheets for developing a character that harmonises with your plot
- nifty tools for developing a range of realistic characters
- places to just write, and to store scene fragments
- worksheets for developing themes into your fiction
In case this is useful to other people, I am posting it here. All I ask is that if you post it on your website, put a link back here. Also, I would love any feedback, because it’s a work in progress and I hope to develop it further.
Update 23/9/13: version 2 is here, with a nicer look and feel and some cool new worksheets and templates!
The look and feel is a bit more modern and hopefully easier to work with:
There are new worksheets, in particular ones on:
- Subplots – in the 3 Act Structure folder
- Scene Planner template – for mapping your dramatic beats, setting, character notes, and background info
- Main Character template – a new improved version of the main character sheets, but as a template so you can create one for each main character. The folder is better organised and there are worksheets for developing antagonists, and for developing character voice.
There are more explanations, more tips, and the beginnings of a glossary. Writing advice has been collected in a handy writing advice folder with subcategories for storing your own advice.
Click here to download Caro’s Outliner Template v 2.0 via Dropbox:
- as a .scriv file
- as a .scrivtemplate file
- as a .zip package with both the .scriv and .scrivtemplate files
Instructions for opening these files:
1. If you downloaded the .scriv file, save a copy and then double click to open in Scrivener.
2. If you downloaded the .scrivtemplate file, you will need to import the template into Scrivener. Do this by opening the Scrivener program and then in that first window that displays choose ‘Options’ and then ‘Import Template’.
3. If you have downloaded the .zip file you will need to unzip first if your computer doesn’t do it automatically.
I am told it works on both mac and windows. If you still have trouble after following these instructions, please leave me a comment explaining the problem and I will try and help.
I will add more templates here as I collect them. In the meantime, there are a few for novel writing at www.belindacrawford.com.