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Excellent Scrivener template to help start that novel

As long-time readers of ‘Nightspore’ will know, I have been a fan of Scrivener writing software for quite a while now and find it an invaluable writing tool.

I did struggle a bit when I first started using the software because of the scope of what it does.

What would have helped me start “Rose In Winter”, my first novel (previously I had stuck to short stories), is a template that did more than just help format the final output and provide buckets for research etc. Although Scrivener’s storyboarding and synopsis tools are very powerful, there is much more that can be done with it if one knows where to start.

Impatient to get going, I took a “let’s start writing” approach which has since proved to be bit of a problem as I had not worked out enough of the plot and structure for my novel and had almost nothing beforehand on the characters. It all just “grew” – I am now trying to sort out the unholy mess by developing character outlines and breaking the story down into five (possibly more) novelette / novella length sections.

Last week, while browsing the Online Writing Workshop‘s Discussion Forum I finally found that “starting a novel” template tool I needed. OWW member Caroline Norrington has developed just the answer.

As well as manuscript parts for ‘just typing your novel’ she has included detailed instructions and ‘fill in the blanks’ elements for the conventional three act structure, semi-structured plotting, scene building and a wealth of material around developing characters (which I really wish I had found a year or two ago!). Also, of particular interest to fantasy and SF writers but useful for any novelist, there are sections on ‘world-building (such as cultures and geiography) and other research.

As if this was not enough, there is also a section on producing your final output in paperback novel format or as an e-book, complete with instructions on how to include cover art-work.

Rather than include the template here, I encourage you to read Caroline’s article about the template on her website. Not only will this have her latest version (I understand her template is being refined at the moment) but there are also screenshots and more information about what the template covers.

Highly recommended!

6 Comments so far

  1. Kathryn Jankowski September 20th, 2013 9:22 pm

    I finally got around to downloading the free trial version but haven’t played with it yet. Hope to soon.

  2. phillip September 21st, 2013 7:41 pm

    Hi Kathryn, Good luck with it. There is a bit of a learning curve but I believe it is well worth it – Scrivener is a powerful tool and the template referred to in this post is, once you are familiar with the basics, a great addition.

  3. Mike Keyton September 21st, 2013 12:36 pm

    Will this confuse me more…? Joking. Am about to start Scrivener along with the tips you’ve already provided for my new wip – an interwar horror story based on Lord Tredegar and Aleister Crowley.

  4. phillip September 21st, 2013 7:47 pm

    Mike, As I said to Kathryn, this repays a bit of work becoming familiar with the tool. I think it is excellent for starting and then managing a novel, especially if you like story-boarding.

    Over the past couple of days, I have been looking in detail at Caroline’s template for my new novel as it contains three different systems to develop a story: the three act structure; the snowflake method and Belinda Crawford’s 31 day method. I am trying snowflake for the first time and will be posting more about it on the blog soon.

  5. […] of the Scrivener novel start-up template provided by Caroline Norrington (see my previous article: ‘Excellent Scrivener template to help start that novel’) is that it introduced me to the Snowflake Method. Not sure how I missed it before but this was the […]

  6. […] Caroline’s Scrivener template and the Snowflake Method it introduced me to were also invaluable. […]

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