The Study: Issue #29 - 5 Scrivener Tips to Supercharge Your Writing Process

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5 Scrivener Tips to Help You Take Charge of Your Manuscript

Scrivener is a fantastic application for writing everything from film scripts to novels, but it’s also chock full of features many users aren’t aware of. In this article, I’ll highlight five of my favorite ways Scrivener has helped me write six novels and numerous short stories over the years.

Note: All navigational directions reference the Mac version. Windows shouldn’t be too different, but you may need to consult Scrivener’s help documentation for the correct menu paths and key combinations. Many features, such as Snapshots, are not available in the iOS version.

Let’s get started.

1. Snapshots

Ready to start editing your first draft? Navigate to Documents > Snapshots > Take Snapshot or Take Snapshot with Title and take a snapshot of your chapter (or whole project) as it exists today.

From there, changes will display in a different color so you can compare them to the previous chapter version(s). You can even revert to a previous snapshot by right-clicking a snapshot in the Inspector and selecting “Roll Back” if you want to undo all your changes so far.

2. Document Labels

Document Labels are a great way to differentiate at the chapter level which revision you’re on. Label a chapter as “First Draft,” “Second Draft,” all the way up to “Final Draft” and assign each label a color so you always know which version you’re looking at. You can even create custom labels for things like multiple POVs.

Right-click on a scene or chapter document > Label > choose a label. Click “Edit…” to create your own.

For example, when I was writing The Prophet, half of my chapters were labeled as “Callie” and colored pink for the scenes written from her point of view, while the other half was colored blue and labeled “Max” for his scenes.

3. Name Generator

One of the hardest parts of writing a book is coming up with character names. Have no fear–Scrivener comes with its own built-in name generator! Click Edit > Writing Tools > Name Generator… to bring up the Name Generator dialog box.

Give it criteria like country of origin, whether you want male or female names, and how many initials each name should be. On the left side, you’ll get a list of potential names for your characters, sparing you hours of poring over baby name websites.

4. Save Webpages

Writing a book takes a lot of research and these days, much of that research is done online. 

Copy the link to a webpage you’re using, scroll down to the Research section of your project in Scrivener, right click and select “Add Web Page.”

You can give it a title and Scrivener will save that page locally for you so you don’t have to fiddle with bookmarks or 147 open browser tabs.

5. Writing History

Most Scrivener users know about the Project Targets section, where they can set things like draft deadline and minimum word count for their project, but few realize there’s a place where writers can see how much writing they’ve done each day.

The Writing History dialog box (navigate to Project > Writing History…) will show you how many words or characters you’ve written in your manuscript over the course of its lifetime. Super helpful for NaNoWriMo participants looking to keep track of their daily word counts.

Hopefully, these tips will make you more productive as you finish your next book. And stay tuned to future issues of The Study, where I’ll be adding a Scrivener Tip of the Week more regularly.

Happy writing!


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How I Hustled Hundreds of Dollars of Free Tacos for the Literary World” by MM Carrigan | Literary Hub

Terrific thread on YA history from literary agent and Print Run podcast co-host Laura Zats:


A section devoted to current submission opportunities without submission fees.

inQluded — Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, music, visual art, comics, interviews, MG/YA short stories from queer, trans & intersex Black, Indigenous & persons of color youth | Deadline: May 29

Northwest Review — Translation, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, essay, graphic narrative | Deadline: Unclear

Little Something Press — flash memoir and fiction, poetry, visual art | Deadline: June 15th

Gold Man Review — Nonfiction, Poetry, and Fiction (only from residents of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii | Deadline: June 3

Volney Road Review — poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction | Deadline: August 1st

33 1/3 — Short books about music and COVID-19 | Deadline: July 1

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