Category Archives: scrivener

My New SFWA Short Fiction Template 2.0 for Scrivener Is Now Available For Download

I finally got around to taking the revisions I’ve made to my own short fiction template that I use within Scrivener, and updating the short fiction template that I produced more than a year ago. The original template was downloaded over 1,100 times! The new one is now available just in time for NaNoWriMo.

So, Scrivener users who want the 2.0 version of my short fiction template can download it here:

SFWA Short Fiction Template for Scrivener (3595)

The template now includes an About This Template document that describes all of the features. But I’ve also included this information below, as well as instructions on how to install the template.

Who Can Use This Template

Anyone. I call it my “SFWA Short Fiction Template” because most of the stories I submit are short fiction (officially, those pieces under 40,000 words) and they are submitted to SFWA qualifying markets.  “SFWA” stands for “Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.” But you don’t have to be a member of SFWA or even a short story writer to use this template. The net result of the template itself is that it takes what you’ve written and produces a document in standard manuscript format without you having to fuss over the formatting. You can focus on writing your story.

Features of the 2.0 Version

Here is a list of features. This same list is included in the About This Template document in the template itself.

  1. Preset First Page Header document. The first page header document is designed to take the meta-data in your Scrivener document and generate an appropriate first page of your manuscript. In standard format, the first page of a short fiction manuscript contains information about the author (address, phone number, etc.), approximate word count of the story, and the title and byline of the piece. This template will fill in this information automatically from Scrivener’s metadata settings.
  2. Story Section. Into the story section goes your scenes, where the actual writing happens. You can organize this any way you like. The template uses separate scene documents to indicate the proper scene breaks within the compiled manuscript. If there is only one scene in your story, one one scene document is required.
  3. Research Folder. The research folder is a place-holder folder for any research notes and documents related to your story.
  4. Deleted Scenes. The Deleted Scenes folder is a place-holder for any scenes you decide to remove from your manuscript. I don’t like losing any work. Sometimes, there is a scene or paragraph that is well written, but just doesn’t work in the story. Instead of deleting it permanently, I’ll move it to the Deleted Scenes folder. It gives you a completed record of everything you wrote. And you never know, those things that you cut may prove useful in some future story.
  5. Critiques Folder. The Critiques folder is a place to store any critiques or comments you get from friends, fellow writers, work-shoppers, etc. I like having this all in one place, tied to the story in question. I also will copy positive reviews for stories I’ve published into this folder.
  6. Final Draft Checklist. This is a document with a list of things I check through each time I produce a draft of a story that I am sending out. Feel free to remove items from this list, or add your own.
  7. Work Log. Each day that I work on a story, I’ll add one line to my “Work Log” file, indicating in a sentence what I did that day. It might be something like, “Wrote 2 more scenes, 2,500 words.” Or something like, “Spend evening editing scene 6 down to 550 words.” I like having a complete history of what I did on each piece and this Work Log is a simple way of maintaining that.

How To Install the Template

  1. Download the template.
  2. Unzip the downloaded file.
  3. Open Scrivener on your computer.
  4. From the Scrivener start screen, click the Options… button
  5. Select Import Templates…
  6. Choose the unzipped template file you just downloaded and then click the Import button.

After that you should be all set. To use the template, create a new project, select the Fiction category, and then choose the SFWA Short Fiction Template 2.0.


The usual disclaimer: I made my best effort to test the template and make sure it doesn’t cause any problems. As busy as I am, I don’t have much time to support issues that arise with the template. If you find a problem, let me know about it, but I can’t make any promises as to being able to fix it in a timely manner. This is a go-at-your-own-risk proposition. That said, I’ve been using the template with no problems with Scrivener on my Mac.

Scrivener and the Editorial Process

If you are a writer, and you work hard, are stubbornly persistent, and submit what you write to markets that publish the kind of thing you write, eventually you will start selling what you write1. And if you sell what you write, you will inevitably come into contact with editors. Indeed, it is possible to work with editors before making your first sale. Before I sold my first story to InterGalactic Medicine Show back in 2007, I went back and forth on revisions with the editor there until he felt the story was good enough to publish.

I write all of my stories using Scrivener. In fact, as I’ve ventured out into other areas–like essays, books reviews and interviews–I find that it is just as easy to write those using Scrivener as it is fiction. And so it makes sense that in working with an editor, I’d want to do as much of that work in Scrivener as possible. The problem, of course is that Scrivener produces a manuscript in some standard format–often a Microsoft Word document. This document is submitted to the market in question, and if a sale is made, and revisions are required, it has been my experience that these revisions are often done using the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word. In other words–outside of Scrivener.

Here, then, is how I go about weaving Scrivener into the editorial process. I’ll break this down into phases so you can get an idea of what the full life-cycle is like for me, and how I use Scrivener throughout. And because I have recently made a sale in which I worked with the editor quite a bit on revisions, I’ll even supply some real-world example.

1. Drafting the story

I generally write my stories in two drafts. The first draft of the story is often like a sketch of what the story will become. It is where I try to fit all of the moving parts together without worrying too much about the language. I have all different manner of ways of doing this. It really just depends on the story. But I always start by creating a new project in Scrivener using my SFWA2 Short Story template. This template has several elements that allow me to track the life-cycle of the story, which is important to me because I often learn a lot from the evolution of the story.

I write the first draft using this template. The template includes a “work log” file which I use to track my achievements each day I work on the story. I try to keep these brief and limit them to one per day.  Here is my work log for the last week of the story that I sold to this anthology this week:

Scrivener 1.png

As I said, the work log is just a text file that sits inside my Scrivener project. I usually update it at the end of each day if I’ve done some work on the project. Sometimes I will include, inside square brackets, the name of the snapshot that I am referring to in the notes.

I make heavy use of snapshots in Scrivener. If you don’t know about snapshots, they provide a mechanism for you to keep several versions of your project and be able to see the differences between all of the versions. Check out this video for more information. I generally have at least 4 snapshots for every fiction project:

  1. First draft: the rough draft of the story.
  2. Second draft: a better, fully integrated draft. This is what I tend to send out to fellow-writers for comments.
  3. Submissions draft: the draft that I submit to the market. It usually incorporates comments from #3.
  4. Publication draft: the version of the story that gets published.

Sometimes I have more. In the case of the current project, I had four drafts as listed above, although sometimes I give the snapshots slightly different names.

Continue reading Scrivener and the Editorial Process

  1. If you happen to be a literary genius, you may be able to skip the work hard and stubbornly persistent steps, but you cannot skip the submit-what-you-write step.
  2. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Scrivener, Dropbox, Elements and an improved process for the iPad

When I am at home in my office, I do all of my fiction-writing on my MacBook using Scrivener. It used to be that when I was away from my office, I took my laptop with me, but after getting my iPad last spring, I decided to leave the laptop at home and do my writing on the iPad. The trick was, how best to sync my Scrivener projects with my iPad.

For a while, I synced my Scrivener projects with SimpleNote, which had a nice app for the iPad. But over time, I found three problems with the process:

  1. SimpleNote didn’t have the clean screen editing I was looking for. It’s maximum font size was too small for me.
  2. The way the files are organized is a bit confusing.
  3. SimpleNote’s cloud system is proprietary for its editor.

Maybe it’s just me, but I felt there could be improvements in the process. So I went about looking for a really good text editor for the iPad and what I came up with after a fairly exhaustive search was Elements by Second Gear. Elements has the font sizes I want, the clean screen look to it, and it synchronizes with Dropbox–which means I can make it sync seamlessly with Scrivener.

Why is font size so important to me?

When I write on the iPad, I use an external BlueTooth keyboard–the very same keyboard I use when writing on my MacBook. This is so that the feel of writing is the same, even if the screens are different. But I am also more comfortable if the iPad isn’t sitting right in my face. I like setting it back a bit, and it helps to have  font size that I can still read easily while I work.

Having just returned from a 10-day vacation in which I wrote using nothing but my iPad, I thought I’d share the process in case anyone else was interested. Here’s what I did:

Continue reading Scrivener, Dropbox, Elements and an improved process for the iPad