Home > Scrivener  > Binder skills: Choosing the best template

Header imageBest foot forward

Starting a new Scrivener project, the first choice is which template to use?

  • One of Scriveners
  • One of your own – yes, you can set up your own template, based on one of Scrivener’s templates
  • One you downloaded from the Internet – yes, you can start with a template provided by another source, such as the KM Weiland template for a 3-act structured novel

Save the Cat book coverWhatever you decide will determine the starting point for the Binder. And the Binder is the backbone of your project – the structure.

Setting up your own template

I read Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat: Writes a Novel and wanted to follow the 15-beat structure advocated by her.

I opened a project using Scrivener’s novel template …

Choice | Binder skills: Choosing the best template

… so that I’d have templates for characters and settings as well as the ‘normal’ novel structure.

Example Binder

I then renamed the folder ‘Chapter’ as Act 1, and duplicated the folder to create Acts 2 and 3, both with a single Scene document within them.

Then, referring to the Save the Cat book, I set up each of those ‘scenes’ according to the beats expected within this structure.

STC binder

I then saved the project as a template. File / Save as Template. Easy. Next time I select File / NewProject, this template is available to me.

Fiction options | Binder skills: Choosing the best template

The templates are presented in alphabetical order. I have two others, apart from the Scrivener templates: one created by Ray Daniel and another by KM Weiland.

Setting up your own template: Ray Daniel’s

This is another example of a template set up by a writer: Ray Daniel. He also decided to base his on the basic Scrivener novel template. His template has acts, sequences, and waypoints highlighted.

Notice that each sequence has a set of to-dos that are commonly accomplished in that sequence.

RD example

Notice also that Ray has changed the icons for the various documents. To achieve this, select the document in the Binder, right click and then choose Change icon. there are loads to choose from.

Change icons | Binder skills: Choosing the best template

Using the KM Weiland template

SYN cover KM Weiland writes brilliantly about writing and has published many books including one on Structuring Your Novel.

Her template is available for free download from her website.

Within her template, KM Weiland provides both an outline and a manuscript and guides the writer through the entire process, with information within the documents themselves.

If you start from the top and work down, KM Weiland encourages you to create an outline, identify your characters and the props, and to build your world, before you start writing your manuscript.

Her instructions are all within the Editing pane. Answer her questions and you will find yourself plotting, and developing characters …

KM binder example | Binder skills: Choosing the best template

KM Weiland’s template goes a long way towards showing you how to write a novel!

Scrivener’s templates

Literature & Latte do not profess to teach us how to write, or how to structure our work.

Instead, they provide a variety of templates which will give us a good start, whatever we are writing.

Select File / New Project and choose whichever tab is closest to what you plan to write: fiction, non-fiction, etc.

I write plays as well as novels and it’s important, when submitting the finished piece, to use the accepted format.

This differs between countries and it saves time if you start as you mean to go on. For me, that means Stage Play (UK).

Scriptwriting example | Binder skills: Choosing the best template

Miscellanous options | Binder skills: Choosing the best template

The Miscellaneous tab offers templates for a ‘persuasive lecture’, poems and a recipe collection.

Although these might not be of interest to you, the recipe collection in particular provide useful examples of how you might use keywords and metadata. It also indicate how you might structure a recipe book – or any other non-fiction book.

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  • Tim Seabrook

    11 April 2021 at 16:51

    A useful review as it shows the contents of a template rather than just denoting why it should be used and for what type of writing.

    While any type of template can be adjusted to suit a writer’s needs, knowing what is already there as a starting point is useful and can help improve deciding on the selection especially if you have downloaded a number of templates from different places.

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