How to Use Scrivener to Create Easy Outlines


I use a little program called Scrivener created by the wonderful folks over at Literature and Latte (click the link to the right for more info).  It is a fantastic word processing program that meets all of my novel writing needs.  Today I wanted to you how easy it is to plan and outline a novel using this program.  Sometimes Scrivener has some unconventional uses like the one I am about to show you.

First of all, the program has three sections when you create a new document.  It has a “binder” on the left which lists all of the sections of your novel, the center where all the text is written and finally the “inspector” on the right column.   New sections are created by clicking on the green plus symbol in the toolbar at the top left of the screen.  When I am planning my novel, I create chapter after chapter in the binder and preliminarily name them as the picture below shows:

Next I will write in the “synopsis” box at the top of the inspector column a short synopsis of what I want to happen in this chapter.  I can be as detailed as I like, writing about characters in the scene, details about subplots, or whatever I desire to note about each proposed chapter.

I can then (if desired) switch to cork board view which is accessed by clicking a button in the tool bar over “view mode” to see all of my proposed chapters and how the story will play out.  If I wish to reorder them, I can simply click and drag them around the cork board until I get them in the order I desire.  If I write a chapter of text to go with the outlined chapter, it stays with the virtual note card.  However I reorder the chapters will be how the finished product is printed or saved.

This is just one of the many tools that Scrivener features that has made my life as a novelist that much easier and added to my creativity pool.  Give it a try.  At $49 you won’t be sorry.

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11 thoughts on “How to Use Scrivener to Create Easy Outlines

  1. Scrivener sounds amazing, just what I need as I am getting tired of the pile of notes on my desk. What seemed good when I scribbled it down never seems the same by the time I have waded through the pile and tried to decipher what I meant, or where in the msc it belongs… Thanks for that, Roger

  2. Pingback: How to Use Scrivener to Create Easy Outlines | AnitaJayDawes

  3. Pingback: How to Use Scrivener to Create Easy Outlines | Everything Scrivener

  4. I do the same thing, Roger, though I often just set up my note cards on the cork board, then give each card a little notation–as you did–indicating what’s about to happen. One thing I also do, because it’s just me, is that I’ll give the date and approximate time for when the events in that part of the story happen. I did this for my NaNo Novel, because the events there happened over a three day period, and it was very helpful to look at the cord board, and see, “Oh, Chapter 16 is happening early in the evening, so 17 is just a little later.”

  5. This seems like a great program, Roger. I wouldn’t mind getting it at all for planning/writing purposes (I am also a novelist) but my question is how it transfers to other programs such as word processors or Adobe. For example if I need to send my publisher a manuscript or part of one, but they want it in .doc or pdf format, is it possible to copy and past from this program? Just wondering.

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