Step-by-step creating a project in Scrivener

Last time I posted, I told you about how I was going to learn Scrivener by designing and writing a book in Scrivener (trial by fire.) As I am at the end of the semester (with papers to correct and final projects to discuss) I don’t have a heck of a lot of time, but I did manage to set up part of my project.

scrivener-512As an aside, I want to remind you that I’m writing a non-fiction book. Using a non-fiction project to learn this tool is a heck of a lot easier than using a fiction project. Although there are many similarities (memoir/fiction) I don’t have to worry about characters and plots as much.

Also, I’m learning this tool with the book Scrivener for Dummies in hand. It may not be the most creative approach to writing a manuscript, but I’m killing both of those birds with one stone, aren’t I?

Creating a project in Scrivener

When you start a project, you need to choose your template. Scrivener offers a few including non-fiction, fiction, and blank.

This was my first little bump in the road. Technically my project is non-fiction but because it will be written in a memoir style, it would follow (to a degree) a fiction template.

I chose non-fiction and quickly realized that non-fiction was intended for a reference book. I’ve since tried to switch the template but am having difficulty doing that.

Advice #1 – think about your story structure *before* you choose a template, if your story does not fall solidly into one of the template categories go with Blank.

Action item #1 – figure out how to switch templates or just start a new project.

Naming your project

When you create a project, you’ll need to name it. Give it a name (title) that you’ll be able to recognize (don’t call a project something like Wendy’s book.) When you get to the point where you might have multiple projects to choose from, you want to be able to quickly identify the one you want.

In my case, I’m calling this project – Clear the heart, clear the house

Advice #2 – create a descriptive title.

Filling in the title page

Go ahead and fill in the title page. It has a blank spot where you can enter your literary agent’s name. If this doesn’t give you incentive to work on your project, not sure what will.

Advice #3 – as soon as you define your project, fill out that title page. It will give you major motivation.

Including previous material

If you’ve written about your project, if you have notes (I cut and pasted my description of my project from an earlier post) put then in your project folders.

When you click on the binder level of your project, you’ll see the index card “tiles” that you’ve created so far. In my case I have that all-so important title page and I’ve put a piece I wrote years ago about my previous decluttering experience in as a forward.

I’ve since realized that it shouldn’t be a forward, but should instead probably be Chapter 1. See what I mean about choosing the right template? I should have gone with Blank and just created parts as I needed them.

Advice #4 – load in what you’ve got baby, get used to keeping all your material in one spot.

That’s it. That’s as far as I’ve gotten in this project. The semester ends in two weeks and when it does, I plan to spend a lot more time figuring this tool out and creating my project in it.

Until then, write on.

Oh and if any of you are following along (time to learn Scrivener yourself? – you can get a free 30-day trial) please post questions and/or comments on your progress, I’m sure we’d all like to hear.


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

14 thoughts on “Step-by-step creating a project in Scrivener

  1. I find both projects fascinating (decluttering your home and learning to use Scivener). I shall be following your progress with eagerness. Thank you being honest about the stumbling blocks. I think we learn more from the things that go wrong!

  2. Awesome, I will try this out when I feel comfortable enough to start writing stories but for now it’s great to know all this advice is here and Thank you. ^.^

  3. Reblogged this on hamnishe and commented:
    Another one to add to my ever-growing collection of used-once-and-forgotten software? Or a tool I’ll actually stick with….?

    • I use Scrivener and it’s the first program like this that I’ve found that actually lives up to the hype. It’s not perfect (compiling, i.e. formatting an actual book from what you’ve written, is not as easy as I would like it to be), but it’s invaluable for navigating through a large writing project. I don’t know how I ever wrote without it.

    • I agree with Karen. It is a game changer. I started using it last summer with some academic essays. Having my notes, research pdfs, and my drafts of various sections all in one place was fantastic. It is worth the trial for sure (and the best things about the trial is the 30 days seems to be based on the number of hours you spend on the program, not 30 calendar days).

  4. I’ve found it excellent as an aid to redrafting an almost finished novel. Next time l will use it from the start. The ‘document notes’ and ‘project notes ‘ facilities are really useful.

  5. Good luck with the book, Wendy! You can’t change templates, but you can create a new project based on the desired template and then with both projects open, just drag your files from one Binder to the other. 🙂

  6. I’ll be following up here on your Scrivener endeavours. I can’t seem to wrap my head around it, but your distinction between using a fiction template for memoir was already a big help. I also purchased the paperback, Scrivener for Dummies, yet I still feel it’s overwhelming.
    I look forward to hearing more from your adventure with it.:)

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