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.

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