Learning to use Scrivener: Part II

Hello again, friends! Paul here today to talk to you again about my adventure using Scrivener. I discussed how Scrivener allows you to break your manuscript into multiple pieces last time. You can read about it here. Today I want to talk about another great tool Scrivener offers: the ability to compile, store, and view your research alongside your manuscript. If you’re like me, then you tend to have folder after folder stuffed with notes, napkins, index cards, you name it that you have your ideas and research written on. I always found it so time consuming to organize and access my research in this format. Scrivener offers a solution to this problem.

Mature man reading old book surrounded by heaps of books

Tedious research before Scrivener

When creating a new project in Scrivener, you are presented with three default folders: draft, research, and trash. You can add to and/or move documents inside these folders as you see fit. Let’s focus on the research folder, shall we? You can create new documents to house your notes, external documents, images, multimedia, you name it. My children’s series, Lionel’s Grand Adventure, is set in the 1960s. I, for instance, have an external link to a web page listing 1960s slang terms. The benefit to this feature should be obvious. Using my own books as an example, if a character sees something he/she thinks is really neat and responds in kind with an exclamation, I don’t want that response to be “Excellent!” This is clearly a ’90s term (made famous by Bill & Ted on their Excellent Adventure I might add). If I’m stumped as to what the era-appropriate term might be, all I need to do is open the external link to 1960s slang terms in my research folder to find a more appropriate term such as “Boss!”

You might be thinking, how is that easier if I have to change pages from manuscript to external link and then back to my manuscript? Well, I’m glad you asked because Scrivener has a solution to that too. Scrivener allows you to split your screen into two documents, either horizontally or vertically. I prefer them side by side. By doing this you are able to refer to your references, whatever format they might be in, while viewing and writing your manuscript. Another great feature Scrivener offers to make accessing your research simple is called Scrivener links. You can create a Scrivener link (think of it as a hyperlink) anywhere in your document. Using the same example as above, I need only insert a Scrivener link to my 1960s slang page in a section of my manuscript heavy with dialogue. To access research, simply click on the Scrivener link and your screen splits in two, side by side, displaying your manuscript and the external web page (1960s slang). I am now able to replace phrases with ’60s appropriate slang.

So, in addition to allowing me the freedom to create my manuscript in pieces, Scrivener also allows me to compile and access my research right alongside my text. These two features alone make Scrivener well worth it, but there is more. We will take a look at more features Scrivener has to offer as I continue to use it and learn its ins and outs. I hope this helps those that are considering purchasing Scrivener as well as those that might already have it. Until next time, keep writing (and reading), and be careful what you wish for…


Paul R. Hewlett


Paul R. Hewlett

Paul R. Hewlett is the author of the Lionel's Grand Adventure Series, beginning chapter books for children. He is also the co-author of the kidlit blog Sher A. Hart: Written Art. His debut book, Lionel and the Golden Rule, was released in December of 2011. He released his second book, Lionel's Christmas Adventure, in November of 2012. You can learn more about Paul and his books at his website: paulrhewlett.weebly.com.

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