My Books

Buy one of my books... Available above at Amazon. Also available at SmashWords, Barnes & Noble and iTunes

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Scrivener #2 - Importing An Existing Manuscript (Pt1)

This is the second in a series of blog posts based on my experience of Scrivener - A Swiss Army Knife of a tool for writers. The previous post can be found HERE. The complete series can be found HERE.

It was tempting for me to just dive in and use Scrivener without reading everything I could about it, but I figured if I was going to make this my go to piece of software for writing novels then I needed to invest the time and get to know it properly. So the first thing I did was to watch the 30 minute video on the Scrivener website and also go through the built-in Scrivener tutorial. Goodbye day one!

Wow! There's a lot to Scrivener. It was like learning Word or Excel all over again. Yes, it could be used in its basic format, but it also had so much to offer, and that was why I was switching to it. Okay, it was time to get started.

I currently have two series of novels in mid-development. My Xannu series is two books published and one book in completed manuscript form, in a five book series. My Melrose series is one book published and one book in completed manuscript form, in a three book series. So I had two choices, either to just start new manuscripts in Scrivener or to somehow back-fit my existing novels into it. I decided on the latter approach, even though I knew it would mean more work and probably more frustration.

Now that I am in the middle of this exercise, I am pleased I chose this approach. The exercise has given me a chance to get to know the powerful features in a semi-protected environment. When I come to use Scrivener in anger to start a new manuscript I will definitely be hitting the ground running.

But anyway, I know you all want to know what I've done so far.

The first step was to create a blank project in Scrivener. I chose the New Project; Novel; Novel with Parts option (I plan to use one project for each of my series, with the parts equating to individual novels). I then messed around a little with the project to create enough chapters for my novel and did a few other bits and pieces. Next it was time to import my first novel, Xannu - The Prophecy. I selected Import; Files; and then located my Word document for the novel on my hard drive. Scrivener imported it flawlessly. Now all I had to do was split it up.

I had already decided that for my published novels I was only going to split them to the chapter level as I was already happy with the structure and most other things. Once the published manuscript was imported I just went through it, from the end backwards, highlighting a chapter heading, right-clicking my mouse and selecting Split With Selection As Title. This gave me all my split chapters. I then dragged these into the chapter containers I had already created above. The hard part was done. Who am I kidding? The first part of the process was done. I still had to perform a few minor re-writes; do some editing; import characters, location and reference materials; and format it for printing or use as an ebook. And this was just book one. I still had book two and book three to work on.

In the next blog post I will discuss how I brought in reference materials to help me with the long term evolution of my Xannu project.


  1. I think even I can do this! I'm not the most technological literate person out there but I think that this is do-able. I look forward to see future posts about this. Thanks!

  2. Paul, you make this seem so easy! Just had a go at this myself and I think I'm finished but I have no way of knowing if what I have done is right or not!