Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Scrivener: Snapshots and Setting Targets

For those of you who don't know, Scrivener is a word processor that offers great tools and easy organization for some of the really messy bits of novel writing. I'm sure it's perfect for other writing, but as I've only used it for writing novels, that's all I know.

A couple weeks ago, Erin Bowman did a piece on Scrivener's outlining features. Though while I add flourishes like articles, document, and pictures to mine, I happen to use the corkboard in much the same way as she does. I recommend you hop on over and watch her video, you just might find it helpful.

Now, let me tell you about what are presently two of my favourite Scrivener features: Snapshots and Setting Targets.

By doing Snapshots first I'm kind of going to go backwards. Namely because Targets is generally used in your first draft, and Snapshots are used in revisions. Anyway...

In short, Snapshots help you keep track of your edits. By using Snapshots you won’t have to backup your drafts in multiple files, which can get confusing. Also, snapshots are created by scene, so if you want to revert to an earlier draft for just one particular scene and leave the rest of the manuscript as is, it's very simple to do so. You can also compare drafts. It sort of compartmentalizes your edits, and therefore give you less of a headache.

I debated showing you how to do this myself, but I find the Scrivener tutorial much easier to follow:

 As you can see, this feature is invaluable during the revision and editing processes.

Setting Targets

Now, since there is no video tutorial for Setting Targets in Scrivener 2.0 (you can go to this one for 1.54 here, though it doesn't have many of the nifty bits available in 2.0).

Firstly, I use Targets because, having worked in the industry long enough that I generally have a decent feel for how many words should be allotted to a particular scene. If you don't have a feel for this, then it's probably not helpful on a scene by scene basis, which is how I use it, but could be useful for your manuscript as a whole.

Now, let's stretch our imaginations a bit and pretend that I am Lewis Carroll, writing about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I am in the middle of working on my first scene in which we see Alice follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. And, fancy that, I want to set up some Targets to meet for this scene, and each subsequent scene.

The easiest way to create a Target for a scene is to click on the target image on the bottom right hand corner of the main window. Once you click on that, a box will pop up like so:

Let's set up the Target at 2000, and press OK. No worries if you later think the number is wrong, this number can be changed at any time. Now, if you look at the bottom right hand corner of your main window NOW you will see a progress bar. It changes colour, too. The more green-like the colour is, the closer you are to meeting your target. It also shows the word count compared to the Target. As you can see, I still have a ways to go.

You can also use it to keep track of where you are within your entire manuscript and deadlines. Simply click on Project (on the top drop-down menu) and then select Show Project Targets.

A window will pop up that looks like this:

Manuscript Target
Click on 'Edit' or, alternatively, just click on the '0' and you will be able to change the number as you wish. This can also help you to keep within word counts, so you don't over-write. For now, I'm using a total Manuscript Target of 50,000 words.

Session Targets
You can also adjust the Targets for each time you sit down to write, in the Session Target area. Alternatively, you can leave this as is and Scrivener will calculate the required Session Target Based on your Manuscript Target and the deadlines you've set (that bit's coming next).

Next, to set up your deadlines, click on 'Options...' and the pop-up window will change to this: 

You can adjust this to whatever suits you. I tend to only write on weekdays, so I haven't selected Saturday and Sunday as writing days. And I'm setting a deadline for 1 April 2012. Check the boxes to whatever meets your needs. Generally you want to click the top two boxes because you won't want to include any notes, character outlines, etc in your Targets. This is the same reason I usually don't select 'Count text written anywhere in the project', either. With this information, in conjunction with the Manuscript Target set, Scrivener can now calculate how much you need to write per day to finish your draft on time.

Personally, I like to reset my Session Targets at midnight, so I don't have to fuss with it when I start my writing session each day. And, while I do on the rare occasion delete things in my first drafts, I don't generally select it because I know that no matter if I delete from my previous days' work, Scrivener will recalculate all my targets anyway. I could allow negatives, which basically just allows my Session Target to go below zero if I've deleted and then works it's way back up, based on where I was before. It means if you lose words, it will show.

The beautiful thing is, if you miss a day, it will recalculate everything so you know what you need to do to catch up. Genius.

Press okay and it shows me a Target summary:

So, as you can see, I should get cracking. I have to write at least 1,144 words a day to complete my first draft by 1 April 2012, which is a mere 43 writing days away!

Hope that's helpful. If you have anything to add, or anything else you're curious about, just let me know in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I downloaded the trial version of Scrivener and began toying with it in the fall of 2011. I initially used it for outlining, I loved the corkboard feature. I then decided to give it a try for NaNoWriMo 2011. It was the first year I finished. Attribute it to the intuitive interface, great tools or just having all your writing, characters and research in one program. I love writing in scenes and being able to drag and drop these as I need to rearrange my story is priceless. There is a free trial so why not give it a shot!

    If anyone decides to buy Scrivener I was given a limited use coupon here You’ll get 20% off – until it expires. Enjoy!


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