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Project templates: Choosing the right one for fiction | ScrivenerVirgin

This question came up during the April session of the Simply Scrivener Special webinar series.

Which project template should I use?

The developers of Scrivener anticipated many different types of material an author might want to write. For each, there is a separate template: Blank, Fiction, Non-fiction, Scriptwriting, Poetry & Lyrics, and Miscellaneous.

If you choose Fiction, there are then three more options: Novel, Novel (with Parts), and Short Story.

Novel options

Novel msFor a novel, the Manuscript part of the Binder offers a structure of Scenes within Chapters. The Scenes are ‘texts’; the Chapters are ‘folders’ which hold the Scenes.

The Scene is considered to be the smallest element of a novel, one in which the action focuses on a particular period of time, with a particular cast of characters at a particular place. Once one of these changes, you have a new scene …

Novel with parts msFor a novel with parts, the Manuscript shows Scenes within Chapters within Parts. Scenes are still text. Held within the Chapter folders which are then within the Part folders.

My Perfumed Ladies Book group recently finished reading A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, and it had four parts. Each part offered a different point of view, and revealed more about the Whitshank family; it was a good read!

For a novel (with or without parts), the Binder is presented with a Front Matter section and three exporting options.

  • A manuscript, eg for an agent to consider
  • A paperback, as in traditional printingNovel front matter
  • An e-book, for a digital product

For each exporting option, there are different expectations for what might appear at the front of the book, and Scrivener provides for all eventualities.

  • The Manuscript Format just has a title page.
  • A Paperback Novel has the title page plus a copyright page, a dedication page and a blank page. (Why a blank page? So that Page 1 of your novel is on the right-hand side (called recto).
  • The E-Book needs a cover and one page is offered for a dedication.

You don’t have to include all the offered pages, and you can add more pages if you wish, for example, to provide a list of your publications to date.

For a short story, there is no Front Matter section. Short story binder

Instead, the first page, (called the First Page Header) is presented ahead of the Story and the Scene texts appear within the Story folder.

So, if you decide before you start what it is you are writing, Scrivener provides the appropriate structure for you via the template options.

And does it matter?

What if you set up a Story and it grows to the point where it’s turning into a Novel?

Not a problem … Set up a new project using the Novel template, and drag the Story folder, complete with all its Scenes, across to the Manuscript folder.

Then decide which Scenes belong in which chapters and move them into place. Not so easy to show that here but, if you attend a Simple Scrivener Special, I’ll demonstrate how, on screen. No charge!

Want to learn more about how to use Scrivener?

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  • Rob

    23 July 2023 at 07:09

    I like your definition of a scene but how do you define a chapter?

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