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Recap of NECRWA Conference

Last weekend, I had the privilege of presenting two Scrivener workshops at the New England Chapter RWA conference just outside of Boston. Taryn Elliott tagged along to take advantage of the quiet hotel room to write. By the way, if you haven’t read Taryn’s latest book, Rocked (written with Cari Quinn), get thee to your ereader now!

The weekend started with a bang. As soon as Taryn and I entered the hotel, we were greeted by Bella Andre, who’s one of my favorite authors. I tried not to get too fangirly, probably with little success. The good conference karma continued throughout the weekend. My workshops were well-attended, although I’ll leave it for others to decide if I hit the mark or not. I get nervous when I have to speak in front of a group, but I’m working at it.

The highlight of my weekend occurred at the literacy signing. Not so much because of the interest in Scrivener Absolute Beginner’s Guide — the bookseller coordinating the sale didn’t order nearly enough copies, so I sold out within the first five minutes and had to face disappointed latecomers for the remainder of the event. I happened to be seated next to the amazingly talented Virginia Kantra, however, who turned out to be exceptionally kind to this booksigning newbie. Again, I’m a huge fan of her books, so I attempted to keep the drool to a minimum, but I really appreciated the opportunity to chat with her and talk shop.

Huge thanks to NECRWA for putting on such a great conference and inviting me to speak! The venue was excellent (I wanted to bring the bed home with me!), the food was delicious, and there were plenty of places to gather in small or large groups. I’m already looking forward to next year.

And now it’s time to knuckle down and finish Heir of Uncertainty, Book 1 of my Heirs Lost series. This will be my first novel, and I’m hoping to have it out the door by the end of July!

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Labels, Status, and Keywords in Scrivener

Because Scrivener is so flexible, one of the biggest challenges often isn’t figuring out how to use a feature but how you want to use that feature to best suit your workflow. For example, you may know that you can rename the Label and Status fields and customize the values available for each in order to track all manner of details about your documents. If you need to assign even more meta-data to your project documents, you can add customized keywords. And on the Mac, you can add still more fields using Custom Meta-Data fields.

But how do you put these different elements to work? Here are some ideas:

  1. Storyline — Change the Label field title to Storyline and add a value for each of the sub-plots in your manuscript. By using the Label field for this, you can color-code each sub-plot. Then, when you view your project in the Corkboard or Outliner, you can see at a glance if a particular storyline has taken over or been left hanging in the overall manuscript.labelscreen
  2. Point of View (POV) — Change the Label or Status field to POV and add a value for each of your POV characters. Again, if you want to see this represented visually on the Corkboard or Outliner views, use the Label field in order to add a color to each value. Otherwise, the Status field works nicely here.
  3. Scene Type — If you use the Hero’s Journey for plotting, consider creating a value for each step. Or you can create values such as Action, Love Scene, Backstory, Black Moment, and Resolution.
  4. Draft Status — Modify the Status to track scenes to be done, in progress, critiqued, revised, etc.Scrivener Status Field
  5. Sets/Settings — If you’re writing a novel, you can use the Label or Status field to track the setting of each scene. For playwrites, create values noting which set each scene uses, such as the village square, tavern, Belle’s home, or the Beast’s castle. When you view your project in the Corkboard or Outliner views, you’ll see at a glance how many scene changes are required in your play.
  6. Recipe Type — Scrivener is not just for writing books. You can create a cookbook in Scrivener, creating a document for each recipe. Change the Label field to identify the food by meal, ethnicity, or other category. Re-purpose the Status field to note if you’ve made it or not, create a rating system for recipes, or cite the level of difficulty or prep time.
  7. Lesson Plans — If you’re a teacher, you can use Scrivener to organize lesson plans. Use the Label field to note if a document is a lecture, worksheet, reading assignment, or resource material. Students can create similar projects to store course notes, papers, homework assignments, and so on.
  8. Book Reviews — Similar to the cookbook idea, if you use Scrivener to track your reading library, use the Label field to identify book genres and the Status field to rate the books or note whether or not they’ve been read.
  9. Blog Category — For bloggers, create Label values for each category or tag you use on your blog. Use the Status field to track the draft status of blog posts or the author of a multi-contributor blog.

You may find that you think of so many uses for the Label and Status fields that those two are not enough. In that case, consider adding Keywords. I’m currently working on a multi-book historical series. I’ve assigned the Label field to display Storylines and the Status field to display the Draft status. But I also want to note which scenes contain important characters, events, and locales that need to be carried through to other books in the series. Some of these must appear in a future book (a Hard item), some might serve to tie the series together if used later (a Soft item), and some are just neat ideas that may or may not even make it into the final draft (a Cool item). If you look below, you’ll see my Keywords list contains items for each of these options. I also have keywords to mark which book a scene ties into.Scrivener Keyword HUD

When I mark a scene with a combination of keywords–such as a Hard Character that ties into Book 3–I can perform searches to locate any scenes that tie into Book 3 or any scenes that contain a Hard Character who needs to appear in a later book. I keep all of the books in a series in one Scrivener project. This allows me to maintain one set of character and other worksheets, one master research folder, and perform searches on a series-wide basis. My current project looks something like this:

Heirs Lost Project

Click to view full-size image

To learn more about how to modify the Label and Status field titles and values or add and apply Keywords in Scrivener, please take a look at my book, Scrivener Absolute Beginner’s Guide.

And if you want to learn more about Hard, Soft, and Cool tracking in a multi-book series, I recommend taking Holly Lisle’s How to Write a Series course. I’ve incorporated many of her course tips into my use of Scrivener and my writing process as a whole.

What do you use the Label and Status fields for in your Scrivener projects? Let me know in the comments!


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Scrivener Absolute Beginner’s Guide — Released!

ScrivABGCoverI’m so excited to share the news that Scrivener Absolute Beginner’s Guide has been released by Que Publishing. This book has been a labor of love for me. I’ve been using Scrivener for years, and it’s transformed my writing process. I hope the instructions, tips, and ideas in this book help you make Scrivener an integral part of your writer’s toolbox, as well.

There’s so much to say about Scrivener, there was no way to include absolutely everything in a book of this size. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting additional tricks and tips to get the most out of Scrivener. If there’s anything you’d like to see explained that wasn’t covered in the book, please let me know.

If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear from you!

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Scrivener Absolute Beginner’s Guide

I’m excited to announce that Scrivener Absolute Beginner’s Guide will be published by Que in June 2013. More details to follow soon!

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My Kindle Fire HD due out in December

My latest book, My Kindle Fire HD is due out in mid-December! This book contains step-by-step instructions with callouts that show you exactly what to do:

  • Quickly master all the basics: reading, playing, watching, browsing, and more
  • Read an eBook and listen to the audiobook at the same time
  • Read periodicals in full color and zoom in on articles
  • Discover Calibre, a powerful eBook management tool
  • Control your music libraries
  • Stream the latest movies
  • Access movie and actor info from IMDB without leaving your movie
  • Use your Kindle Fire as a digital photo frame
  • Set up a safe and fun Kindle Fire environment for your kids
  • Set up your email account to work on your Kindle Fire
  • Talk to friends and family over Skype
  • Surf the web
  • Use Amazon Cloud
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