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Getting Creative: Secondary Uses for Scrivener

Scrivener is fast becoming a mainstay of my writing. I’ve written about this software several times now but for those who are not familiar with it, Scrivener is for developing writing projects. It’s a powerful tool that allows for a great deal of flexibility for any kind of writing project. I’m even using it for this post but especially a series of blogs.

Having An IdeaA Whole New Use

I recently started a newsletter for my blog which I send out to email followers. As part of this process I use Mailchimp to send the messages. I’ll be working on the upcoming edition for next week over several days but it hit me as I started thinking about it – write the newsletter in Scrivener.

My Newsletter Plan

I’m sure other people are doing this already but I haven’t seen anyone actually write about it. Here’s how I plan to use Scrivener.

1. Create a project for the year (since I just started the newsletter the one for 2014 will be short).

2. Use the Binder to create each newsletter volume in separate sub-folders so the project will grow throughout the year.

3. Use the Research folder to create separate sub-folders for each volume where I can put ideas, links, pictures, etc. that I want to use for that volume. When I start writing the volume I’ll have all my information ready to go.

4. Transfer the text to the template in Mailchimp when ready.

Other Related Ideas

Since I plan to use Scrivener for developing my newsletter I also realized there are other similar uses too:

  • I can use it to write my book-related email campaigns.
  • Other email templates such as those used for greetings, thank-you’s and giveaways
  • Goodreads templates for those who friend me
  • It can even be used to compose social media communications that may be used repetitively. Since you can copy all kinds of files into Scrivener, I imagine I can even use it for adding pictures to post on Pinterest such as upcoming cover reveals or additional artwork to be released at a particular time.

The Bow of DestinyAs you can see, the uses for Scrivener are many and varied. Have you tried Scrivener yet? If you have, what are other ways you use it? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed on 11/10/14 so take a look.

Thanks for reading. I’m off to start my newsletter project in Scrivener!

P. H. Solomon

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

The Bow of Destiny cover art licensed by commission from Christopher Rawlins

8 Ways Scrivener Aids My Writing

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

When I originally gave Scrivener a whirl earlier this year I didn’t know how the software worked. But I read several articles and posts about how other writers put this writing tool to use. I took my time working through the provided tutorial after which I began using it with increasing regularity.

Over the last few months, I’ve begun using Scrivener for almost all of my writing. I’m so impressed with it’s usefulness, I’ve begun writing about this software to share my ideas. I’m getting lots of mileage out of blogging with it and I’ve begun using it for my newsletter and other email templates.

Here are 8 ways Scrivener boosts my efforts as a writer:

1. I’m better organized from the beginning of projects. Because Scrivener is an organizational tool, I’m able to develop structure from the beginning of the project.

2. I can easily make changes to structure. Even though I’m structuring my projects well at the beginning, if I find I need to make structural changes I can do so quickly and easily using the binder.

3. I can turn out short projects at a faster rate. As I’ve written, I’m using this software for blogging, newsletters and email templates.

4. I can use different media to assist my efforts. I can copy pictures, links, video and other forms of media into a project. This is very effective for visualizing aspects of a project like characters or locations. I place these in a sub-folder within the Research folder.

5. Since I’m more organized and faster with short projects I have more time for longer projects. It becomes a real time-saver so from this efficiency I can spend more time on my longer projects which have a higher importance over the long haul.

Scivener Binder6. In relation to number 5, I don’t waste time staring at a blank screen since all the preliminaries are out of the way. As a writer, it’s not a good thing to sit staring at you screen. For me, beginning with organizing the project and working with development tasks means my ideas are so developed that I’m more than ready to write the project when the time comes.

7. In relation to number 2, I can edit more effectively which is a plus for a novel. I don’t have the whole manuscript staring at me, just a piece that is manageable. I’ve found that trying to manage a whole manuscript in a single file structure means that I bog down with the entirety of editing. With Scrivener, the book is already segmented and ready for editing.

8. It’s my multi-function tool. As I’ve written in earlier posts, the software is so flexible I can use it for any type of work that I’m doing as a writer. And because it is so powerful a tool I can plan a project like a blog series with growth potential and conversion into a different format as a book – and let’s face it, bloggers like the idea of transforming their blog posts into an e-book.

Bonus Info: Here are links to some helpful templates:

Scrivener template designed for a year of blogs from AllIndieWriters.

Another template for blogging from Thaddeus Hunt.

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Upcoming News: Next week, I’m planning a post about Scrivener for another use.

If you use Scrivener, how has it improved your writing? If you haven’t started using Scrivener, what’s stopping you? What other usages can you share? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed yesterday so take a look.

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

Styling Your E-Book With Proper Formatting

Introduction

The use of styles in word processing is a bit esoteric for many users. However, when formatting an e-book, styles can be very handy. With that in mind, I’ll follow-up on last week’s post about formatting by digging a little deeper into what styles are, why they are important to e-book formatting and how to use them. As a reminder, create a back-up copy of your content before formatting so you can easily revert to the original.

Does Your Manuscript Have Style?

So what’s a style and does your book have it? Well, when considering formatting, this is not so much a question of writing style as visual presentation. You don’t want to worry about this while your actually creating your content but when you are formatting styles add, well – style.

Formatting Word Styles

Styles, as implied by the term, is a way of changing the appearance of your content. That’s a simple statement but there’s much more to than that. It’s basically using a template of different format settings. In Word this is done via the Styles section of the Home menu. Using different styles means you can change headings, first lines of chapters and other sections of your content when a simple click. It’s very handy when it comes to formatting.

But why should you use it?

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The Importance of Styles

Your e-book needs style. It’s like when Kramer (think Seinfeld) found the wide-brimmed hat when he was wearing the coat from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. It’s just not as gaudy. The use of styles adds effects to your manuscript that improve reader experience.

For instance, if you have a book with headings or chapter titles a different style that’s in bold with larger font size can be helpful. However, you don’t want to just make those changes anywhere since they can create discontinuity if used improperly like I just did. Additionally, the first line of a chapter or scene can be enhanced so that it’s noticeably different from the rest of the text and alerts readers to the change. Styles also set apart other types of content in your e-book such as copyright, end material and block quotes (non-fiction).

So that’s a thumbnail of what styles are and why you need them. But how do you use them?

How To Use Styles

The use of styles can actually range from quite simple to complex. I’ll keep it simple here for the sake of brevity but a more thorough discussion can be found in the Smashwords Style Guide. Let’s scratch the surface to get started.

Pre-set styles are on the Home menu in Word 2007 or later. My screenshots are from Word 2010 so yours may be different. First of all there are several styles of which you may need to make use: First Line of a Chapter, Normal, Block (for non-fiction), etc. These are all changed or created from the Styles Manager. It must be noted that just highlighting and changing formatting to suit your needs may not mean that these are picked up correctly when processed by Kindle or Smashwords. Styles manage formatting on a larger, more consistent scale and allows you to change the style easily with a click or two.

In Word 2010 to modify a style right click on the style and choose modify:

Modify Word Style

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Next click on the format button in the lower left and choose Paragraph.

Word Style Modification

The paragraph properties for this style are displayed.

Word Paragraph Properties

Settings such as indent, line spacing, etc can be changed here. Try to make your “Normal” style consistent with what the whole book will be. If you will be using a first line style to forego the use of indent for the beginning of a chapter try creating a separate style. There are pre-set styles for headings, titles, subtitles, etc so don’t try to re-invent these – just change them to suit your needs. Apply the various styles besides Normal wherever necessary by click to that location and clicking the applicable style and the text will be changed.

Scriv Preset StylesThat’s the basics of managing and applying styles in Word. Scrivener is similar in that it comes with presets like Word and you can apply them from the format bar. I’ll discuss these in a later post but for now these should help you learn the basics of formatting for e-books.

Have you tried formatting your e-book? What tips or tricks do you use with formatting? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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The Black Bag by P H Solomon