Tag Archives: Scrivener

Editing Fiction with Scrivener

Editing Fiction with Scrivener Editing fiction? Scrivener makes editing easy.

Let’s see how it works. I’m editing a novella. Unfortunately I got carried away, and wrote several thousand words more than I need. The novella’s rapidly rushing into novel territory. Not to worry.

By the way, this is my process, so if you’re new to Scrivener, please don’t think it’s the only way to edit. Scrivener’s endlessly fluid. You can use as many, or as few of the tools as you please. So if talk about Collections or Snapshots puts you off, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to use them.

Edit with Scrivener

1. Compile and read the project

Your project’s done. It’s time to take it out of Scrivener, to see what you have. I like to compile projects for MOBI (Amazon Kindle format) for a first read, but you can compile into PDF, or other formats. Your choice.

Why compile? So you can read without distractions, and can get a sense of your fiction or nonfiction as a whole. Stuff that needs to be cut will stand out.

2. Back to Scrivener: slash and prune

You’ve done your read-through. Now it’s time to clear away the undergrowth and prune. What needs to go? Go through it your novel or short story and slash everything you don’t need. Remember to take a Snapshot of each document before you wade in. You can take as many Snaphots as you like. Scrivener guru Gwen Hernandez on Snapshots:

A snapshot (Documents—>Snapshot—>Take Snapshot) is a record of the document as it is right now, that gets saved as part of the document’s meta-data. It’s a great way to keep track of different versions of a scene or section without muddying up your binder with versions. I rarely go back to an old version, but I like knowing I can find my original words, if necessary.

3. Oh, how sad… it’s a mess 🙂

You’ll have a messy manuscript now. 🙂 Go through and add material as needed.  At this stage, don’t worry about spelling or grammar errors, or any fine tuning.

Fix holes in character development, and in your plot. Remember that you can split documents, to make it easier. I like to both split documents, and add new documents, so that I can add them to Collections.

I have a Collection for each main character, and for the plot. Here’s an article on Collections.

With Collections, you can focus on specific elements. You can create “automatic” Collections with searches, as well as your own Collections. Done deleting and adding? Check your character and plot arcs, in their Collections. You’ll need to add more material.

4. You’ve patched it all together

Final pass. Smooth out sentences, paragraphs and scenes.

If you’re sending your novel off to an editor, give it a final read-through. At this stage, fix egregious errors in grammar, but don’t go over-board.

There’s no need to get clever with word choices and phrasing — you may yet need to slash entire scenes, if not chapters.

You may not have an editor. If you don’t, and you’re doing the editing, go through the process above AGAIN.

This will be your second draft. Remember to take lots of Snapshots.

Whether you have an outside editor, or do all the editing yourself, you’ll know when the novel’s ready for your beta readers.

Forget about the novel for now — it’s time to start on your next novel, or write a short story.

Update: April 29, 2019

Five years have passed I wrote this article. My editing process today remains much the same as it was then. The only difference is that I added proofing into the editing process.

I proof using ProWritingAid, and it’s simple. I copy the text from Scrivener document into ProWritingAid, correct it there, then paste into Scrivener again. There may be an easier way to do this, but this process works for me, and it’s simple.

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Writing Tools: Create Your Own Templates in Scrivener


You use Scrivener don’t you? If you don’t — start today. Scrivener helps you to write. When I made the switch back to Macs from PCs way back in 2005 it was the best decision I ever made, because of apps like Scrivener. Scrivener’s now available on Windows too, so you have no excuse. 🙂

Learning how to create your own custom project templates in Scrivener saves you time and energy. Thaddeus Hunt’s excellent article shows you how it’s done.

Scrivener: Reviewing and Proofreading Your New Ebook Before You Publish

Your ebook on the Kindle
Test-read your new ebook on the Kindle before you publish

You’ve written your book, and it’s time to publish it to Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore. Not so fast. Before you hit the Publish button, take the time to review and proofread your new book.

I love Scrivener, because compiling an ebook to any ebook platform is a breeze. It won’t take you more than a couple of minutes, once you’re used to the process.

If you’re not familiar with Scrivener, download a free trial. It’s available for both Windows and Mac people. I’ve been using it since it came out in beta years ago. It makes writing and publishing your books easy.

Test-reading your ebook, anytime

You don’t need to wait until your ebook’s done before you check out what it looks like on the Kindle, or whatever platform you’re using. I like to review my ebooks at the first draft stage, and at at subsequent drafts too. You can see what your ebook will look like, and make revision notes.

Amazon uses the MOBI format (here’s a good brief discussion on ebook formats,) so choose that format when you compile.

Before you test-read, add your cover image. Amazon uses a 1:6 ratio, and recommends that: for best quality, your image would be 1563 pixels on the shortest side and 2500 pixels on the longest side.

Drag your image to any folder in Scrivener, but NOT into the Draft folder. All the images in your Scrivener file will be shown when you’re going through the formatting options during the Compile; just select the one you want to use from the list you’re shown.

Compile your ebook into MOBI

To test-read your ebook hit the Compile button on the toolbar. All the options look complex, but you’ll soon get used to them. You can change the options at any time, to create another MOBI file.

Once you’re in the Compile dialog, make sure that you’ve chosen MOBI, as in the image below.

Compile your ebook in Scrivener

Go through the options (the Scrivener manual will help if you’re doing it for the first time.)

Hit Compile in the dialog box when you’re done, and your MOBI file will be created.

Tip: remember WHERE you saved it. Invariably one of my students will contact me telling me that he’s “lost” the file. Save it to the desktop for now, you can move it later if you wish.

Right-click your MOBI file, and open it in the Kindle app on your computer.

You can see my new ebook in the Kindle app on my Mac in the image at the top of this post.

If you’d like to see the ebook on another device, like your Kindle or iPad, choose Send to Kindle from the right-click menu. Download Send to Kindle here, if you don’t have it.

You can also download and use the Amazon’s Kindle Previewer.  I don’t like this app much, but it’s useful because it shows you what your ebook will look like on the various Kindle devices.

So there you have it. You’re ready to test-read and review your ebook. If you’ve completed the final draft, make sure that everything’s just the way you want it, and publish it on Amazon.

That’s all there is to publishing your ebooks in Scrivener. It couldn’t be easier, because you can test-read your ebooks at any time.

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Updated: October 28, 2016

I’ve updated this article because I’ve received so many questions about writing a novel from NaNoWriMo participants this year.