Guest Post: Aurelia B. Rowl reveals her Scrivener secrets

Today I’m delighted to welcome fellow Carina author Aurelia B. Rowl. 

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, I’m thrilled to be here.

One thing that Sarah and I have in common – aside from the same publisher – is that we both use a writing software called Scrivener. In fact, I’m not sure I’d have achieved as much so soon without it because it truly is invaluable to me as a writer, so I thought I’d tell you a little more about it.

I’m not going to try and teach you how to use Scrivener though – there is a perfectly good tutorial within the software itself and if you do a quick search on the internet, you’ll be met with a whole heap of articles – but I can share with you some of the ways that I personally use Scrivener, and I thought I’d do it with the help of some pictures.

These pictures are actually screenshots from my custom template, which is something I’ve modified and tweaked so that I have everything I need already set up when I start a new project

First stage: plotting (plus overview)


In the left-hand column you’ll see all of the files and folders I work with, and in the right hand column you’ll see the info for meta-data and such. In the centre section, set in Scrivenings mode in this instant, you’ll see the very first screen I come to when I start a project… creating the storyboard based on the W-plot structure.

If I’ve already got a good idea on some of the key scenes – the islands – I’ll fill in the relevant index card right away, and speaking of index cards, here is the what the screen looks like, and it’s a great way seeing my story on one page:



Second stage: brainstorming (plus meta-data settings)


Sometimes I don’t know exactly what happens in the story, and even when I know the big picture I still need to figure out the scenes that will get me from points A to B and so on. In another life pre-kids and pre-writing, I used to have to go to “brainstorming sessions” where no idea is a bad idea and everything gets written down so that’s exactly what I do.

Opening up a new index card for each and every idea, no matter how far-fetched or ridiculous, I record each possible scene or action because you never know if that will then spawn another idea or a new thread to follow. I also get all my back-story ideas out here too, to help get a good feel for the characters or setting before I actually get on with writing.

There may also be times a story just isn’t working or a scene feels flat and lifeless so I can return to my brainstorming cards and see if anything else could fulfil the purpose better. Throughout a project, I may keep dipping into the possible scenes and dragging them into the actual manuscript.

Highlighted in this screenshot as well are the different labels I use, assigning a colour to each one and then having that colour show in the binder – that first column – and the outline.

Third stage: Writing


So… here is the start of my story – as shown now the outline mode I mentioned a moment ago – and you can see that I have dragged the storyboard islands A – I into place within the manuscript. One of the many joys of Scrivener is that nothing is set in stone; chapters and scenes can be added with a single click or moved to another point of the story altogether, which is especially useful when those dreaded revisions land in the inbox suggesting restructuring.

I love how visual the outline is when it is colour coded and I can tell at a glance whether a story is balanced. I haven’t expanded Act 2 here because it wouldn’t then fit in the screenshot, but you can see that each Act is separated, each chapter has at least one scene, and I can see the status and current word count for each entry.

Stage four: characters (plus status labels)


A story is obviously all about a particular character or two, with a supporting cast moving through the story with them. This screenshot highlights my characters folder, which is then split into main, major, minor and extras. The character template is one that comes in Scrivener but you can customise this if you wish. Calling it “stage four” is a little misleading though, as this is probably the one area I am adding to at every single stage of writing.

As mentioned before, I like visuals so I often hit the internet and search for inspiration pictures which I can then simply drag into Scrivener. I have been known to split the central window (there is the little button top right) and have the scene I am trying to write on one side and the character visual in the other so I can hopefully bring life to the character description.

Of course the other bonus of filling in character sheets with at least some details, is the improved continuity when you return to a manuscript after a period away, or in my case, when those same characters recur in future books. I hope I’ll never have a situation that a character’s eyes suddenly change colour!

One final thing I’ve highlighted in this screenshot are my status codes – the ones that show on the overview outline – so that I know exactly what I still have left to do and what stage a scene is at.

I’m sure there are many areas I haven’t covered so if you have any questions on my approach to Scrivener, or would like clarification on any of the folders or anything else that I have mentioned, please leave a comment below and I shall do my best to answer.

Thanks so much, Aurelia! 

Aurelia’s New Adult romance Popping The Cherry is out now. For more on Aurelia, check out her blog or Facebook page.

Or, buy Popping The Cherry from Amazon UK, Amazon.com or Carina.  

Popping the Cherry is a fantastic New Adult that kept me flipping the pages…[it] stole my heart for Lena and Jake’s hilarious, heart-melting and crazy romance. I highly recommended Popping the Cherry for getting your forever love the first time.” 5 stars – I Heart YA Books


5 responses to “Guest Post: Aurelia B. Rowl reveals her Scrivener secrets”

  1. DD Symms Avatar

    I would never have considered a writing software (cloud-based) program but now, Aurelia, you have me thinking and I should give it a try. Organizing the characters and details is such an important task and it forces the writer into making strategic decisions. I think writing well is based on making a “best” choice instead of a “good” choice.

    1. Aurelia B. Rowl Avatar

      Thanks DD, it’s certainly a lot easier to move things around than when using the likes of MS Word, and it saves instantly so no more lost work. If you did want to give it a try, there’s a free 30 day trial and it’s reasonably cheap to buy after that too: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

  2. Faberge Nostromo Avatar

    So you write in Scrivener and then, when it’s finished, export to word?

    1. Aurelia B. Rowl Avatar

      That’s right Faberge, and it does all the double-lines and formatting for you so all you have to do is write the text. Compiling and exporting to Word is just one option though, there are other formats available including ones that get the manuscript ready for self-publishing on various platforms but I’ve not tried that option….yet 🙂

      Another thing I love is that you can drag internet pages, pictures, other documents etc in the Scrivener project so that everything is stored in one place for easy reference *thumbs up*

  3. bridal shoes Avatar

    Thanks for finally talking about >Guest Post: Aurelia
    B. Rowl reveals her Scrivener secrets – Sarah Painter <Liked it!