Using Scriviner’s ‘Project Notes (General)’ feature

October 30, 2012

I’m new to Scrivener, and I’m touching (sometimes accidentally) many of the features for the very first time as I gather my plans for the 2012 National Novel Writing Month event this November 1st.

NaNoWriMo is something I’ve done every year, but one, over the past 12 years.

2008 saw the first draft of a How-to-write-fiction book, that was picked up by Inspired Quill Publishing (UK) and we are coming up to the edit stage of that beginning in December. I expect that book, ‘Tell Me [How to Write] A Story’ will be released 2013.

I expect to do my edits in Scrivener. And I’m looking forward to doing so.

Here, with this year’s effort (another novel) I’m going through the paces of working with Scrivener as a newbie and enjoying every moment of discovering what this tool is capable of. One of the things I came across is a space for Project Notes.

Personally, given a space to store project notes is like unleashing a monster for me. I’m all over the place in what I gather there and way too much info is written out – which seems to drain the impetus to then go about writing the same info in my Novel.

I good writing friend, Yvonne Nelson Perry, author of  The Other Side of the Island,  told me once, “Don’t tell too much, or too many people, about what you’re working on – telling is Storytelling without the writing, and once it’s out verbally, the need to write it down dwindles.

So I was wondering what I could use this feature for that would be more helpful than practicing all the writing in the Project Notes, and having nothing left in my mental-quiver when November 1st came along, and it was time to fling those scene arrows at those targets.

This is what I came up with: A list of how-to’s about the way I’m going to attack the writing of the story.  I decided to read 20 short stories, and deconstruct them. To see how the various writes set up and structured their scenes. It was very cool to unravel the way folks put their stories together. And I took a lot of notes from each story on pacing, use of verbs in scenes, and transitions from scene to scene.

So my Project notes are taking all those story deconstruction notes and I’m using that to prompt me as I write this year’s novel.

Then, the following lines of the Scrivener Project notes I came up with are a bit like crib notes from my Tell Me [How to Write] A Story’  book, but all in one ‘cheat-sheet’ where I can flip to it and remind myself what my goals are craft wise this coming month.

What do you think? Feel free to use this set-up (with or without the deconstructing scenes element) if you think it’ll help get you going for NaNWriMo or just for writing efforts you’re starting up.

And remember – sometimes  a wealth of story notes drains the need to then go write a story.

Click the picture to enlarge this screen shot

Screen Shot of Project Notes (General)






Below is the text if the image can’t be read.


Each chapter, or series of chapters,  is based on a story that has been deconstructed from the original author’s however many number of scenes.  We look for how and why the original Author has done what they did in their story.

We decide on a goal for the scene we are writing:

“I want to show how much of a wimp this Stephen guy really is.” and” how Julia reacts figuring out this fact.”

Subtext for Scenes is the decision of how to show our goal in a non-direct way:
1 We will never have a characters say: “this guy is such a wimp.”
2. We will never have the narration mention to the reader that this guy is a wimp.
It will all be gotten across through
a) physical character reveals,
b) reactions of another character,
c) visual action, or
d) visceral narration & descriptions.
but it will always be an un-spoken, un-direct narrated thing.

SUBTEXT for character:
What are we showing the reader about the overall needs/wants/problem of the characters?
i.e., what are the character’s agendas in this scene?
> These should go unsaid within the scene. They should only be understood by the reader, via the storytelling. Nothing Overt.

Rules for In-depth Scenes that use notes from other works:

We never bring in any story element from the original deconstructed story here to our work.  We only want the notes on the How & Why it might have been structured the way it is.

That is what we use as a shell for the scene we are building. We use the stuff above to build the scenes.

If you are telling the reader something in your narration, that is something you’ll be editing in a later draft to remove the telling.
Storytelling is showing the reader a scene, not explaining a scene to a reader.


Hope this helps.



4 Responses to “Using Scriviner’s ‘Project Notes (General)’ feature”

  1. I have the same problem with screen shots…driving me crazy.

    • ejrunyon Says:

      I’m wondering about taking a screen shot (of the ‘saved off screen shot that’s not working’ ) and trying to insert that.
      We’ll see with the next Scrivener post.
      Pls. share this post if it helped you at all.


    • ejrunyon Says:

      The secret to this ‘screen shot’ prob seems to be saving the image as a .png file.
      I’ve added it to the post, and now clicking on it opens it up to its original screen shot size for better viewing.
      and thanks for following.

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