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Using Scrivener from Idea to Final Draft (Modus Operandi) | ScrivenerVirgin

From idea to final draft

Having spilled the beans about my modus operandi regarding my devices, this time, it’s my process of using Scrivener from idea to final draft.

My Scrivener process: from idea to final draft

Writing a novel is not easy. It takes forever and it’s easy to lose heart. I have a simple, straightforward, process which helps me to reach the endpoint with my sense of humour intact.

Briefly, there are ten steps.
  1. Get an idea!
  2. Create the outline – titles and synopses (details here)
  3. Write the first draft – usually during NaNoWriMo
  4. Review the first draft – mostly for structure and balance – see the series of blog posts starting here
  5. Fill the gaps!
  6. Complete the documentation: character sketches / location sketches / timeline
  7. Review the first complete draft; put into chapters (details here)
  8. First fix editing – see the series of blog posts starting here
  9. Review the next draft
  10. Am I done? No: edit again and go back to step 9. Yes: phew!

Yes, you spotted it. Steps 9 and 10 happen over and over again. So, it is an (almost) endless task .. and one that needs tackling systematically.

Throughout, I apply the RedPen principles so as to avoid editing overwhelm.

  • I give myself time to distance myself from my writing.
  • I make sure I approach each editing session with the best frame of mind.
  • (Calmly!) identify what still needs to be done.
  • I choose three ‘smart’ tasks that a) exercise my talents and b) don’t overwhelm me.
  • Do those three tasks, knowing I am improving my manuscript and getting closer to the end goal.
  • I stop and take a break – and go back to the top again …
My Scrivener process: a slice at a time

Whichever draft I’m on, it’s impossible to work on the whole manuscript in one hit, so I only ever work on a slice at a time. (It’s like eating cake!)

What’s a slice of my manuscript?

Using Scrivener, I focus on one ‘view’ of my manuscript at a time. In the Editing pane(s), I choose between

  • Scrivenings
  • Corkboard
  • Outliner

If I’m working in Scrivenings, I can focus from the bottom up: on a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a scene, a chapter. With the Corkboard and Outliner, I’m looking from the top down: chapters, scenes.

So, I have the option to ‘see’ my manuscript from both sides: an overview and the fine detail.

Add to this the option to split panes and I can check my characters, my locations, and my timeline against my storyline.

When doing a task, I also focus on only one thing at a time, mouth-sized bites!

  • One chapter at a time
  • A character at a time
  • One location at a time
  • An ‘issue’ at a time

I do not multi-task … my modus operandi is to apply a linear, step-by-step process, guaranteed to lead to my goal of a finished manuscript. All I have to do is put in the time …

Questions? Need a helping hand? Want a demo?

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  • Steve Shipley

    10 July 2021 at 02:23

    Nice and similar to my work flows, which I continue to refine. I made mistakes in my first two non-fiction books paying for line-editing before realizing I should have done a manuscript critique and developmental editing. Now that I understand and follow the steps I am not wasting money using external sources in the wrong order!

    Thanks for your insights.

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