Starting The Rewrite Of My Novel With Scrivener

I had one week off from school during which I had originally planned to do the first rewrite of my NaNoWriMo 2011 novel. It was naive of me to think I’d accomplish it, especially because half my week was taken up by taking care of house chores that had been pushed off over the last four months, not to mention I also had to study for an exam I have right upon my return to classes. That said, I did go ahead and transfer my novel from Word into Scrivener.

I’ve been using Scrivener as my writing tool since I got it earlier this year and I absolutely love it. I knew from the start that I wanted to import the novel into it for all subsequent drafts, as I love the organizational tools available, especially for a long project like a novel. Take a look at the screen-cap above to see what I mean.

In Word, the novel was one long text file. That was fine for the first 50-thousand-words-in-30-days draft, but for rewrites I knew it would be a bitch. Scrivener allowed me to break off the manuscript into Parts, Chapters and Scenes. A wonderful thing happened once I had taken the time to reformat the text for Scrivener: I was able to see patterns I simply would have missed in Word.

In Scrivener I can see how many scenes are in a particular chapter, and how many chapters per part. At a glance, this let me know where I spent the most time developing the story and where I should go back to take a closer second (or third or fourth) look. Because each part in my novel deals with a specific emotional relationship between the main character and a woman, it also let me know roughly the amount of time in the spotlight each was getting. Furthermore, it raised a red flag that the third and last part needs to be closely inspected as it is significantly shorter than the other two. Now, that doesn’t automatically mean it lacks on story development, but it’s a little detail that I could’ve missed had I seen the whole thing as one continuous block of text.

Since the novel is now broken into scenes, it also makes it easier for me to attack parts of it as I have some time available during classes, which admittedly won’t be much, but some is better than none.

This new organizational scheme has already yielded fruit. After noticing what I mentioned above, my brain has been musing on those various elements and already I have made notes that I feel will develop parts of the novel that I felt were lacking in depth and create a richer story. I’ll continue to report on the progress of the edits as I go along.


  1. I found Scrivener invaluable during NaNo 2011. Using mostly the Binder, I created scenes and chapters as I wrote them, and added titles/scene starters as I thought “Hey, I’m going to need a scene about ….” Since I tend to see strings of scenes or connecting points all in a sort of blinding flash, I found it helpful indeed to create placeholders as things occurred to me so I could then get back to working on the scene at hand. Also, I like to bounce around a lot, writing wildly scattered scenes, and Scrivener is perfect for that.

    Have you made much use of the Research folder/functions. It’s a godsend if you’re having to explore any unfamiliar avenues. My novel’s set in the same city in two time periods and involves things medical, historical, medical, architectural … Scrivener makes it super-easy to collect a myriad of research photos, links, pdfs etc.


  2. Haven’t used the Research functions yet, though for the short story I’m writing here and there, it has been very useful to place images and links to articles there for reference. It’s just such a great program. Worth every penny.


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