How to Edit a Novel in Scrivener

Scrivener makes editing your book easy it offers unrivaled tools and features to help you but sometimes it's hard to understand how to use them if you don't see them in action in this video I'm going to show you some power tips that I've learned over the years that helped me with editing what's up guys this is Michael around with author level up giving you the best tools and strategies for writing faster and reaching readers with your stories don't forget to hit that subscribe button so you can get new videos from me every week if you like this one let's jump right in to Scribner so I can show you how I edit my novels alright so we're here in Scrivener we're looking at dream born book one of my magic trackers urban fantasy series now this book is published but we'll pretend that this is the first draft of the novel and I'm ready to start editing so now if you haven't seen my video on how to outline a novel in Scrivener check that out for some useful tips and if you're new to Scrivener check out my learned Scrivener video that will basically give you a crash course in everything that you need to know in less than 20 minutes so we're ready to edit our novel so I'm gonna go through a number of features here that will certainly help you so the first thing that you can do and this what I like to do is I've got my outline here and I want to be able to refer to my outline while I'm editing so I can do that in one of two ways the first way is I can take the outline and I can drag it into the bookmark tab or button and then that will be there for me whenever I need it and so when I double click on it it will pop up the outline in a quick reference window that I can move around as I see fit now another way and the best way to do this is if I go back to the manuscript is to use split screen mode so if you click on this little button here then what I can do is pull up the outline at the bottom or if I hit the Alt key and then click I can have them show up horizontally or vertically so this is helpful it's just I found it useful to have everything side-by-side now if I wanted to have multiple windows what I could do is I could hold the Alt key and then drag into the editor window like that and do this again and I can get up to four four windows concurrently at the same time for most people I find that that's probably a little too busy but you may find that helpful so that's split screen and that's the copy holders feature by the way that will allow you to do that so we'll close all these windows here and we're back to one window and what I want to show you next is the inspector so we'll go back to the manuscript and we'll click on this little eye here that will bring up the inspector and what I want to talk about first is a synopsis so you certainly can enter a synopsis of each chapter you know and I recommend that you do this while you're writing but for the purposes of this video we'll say and then I'll go to chapter two and then I'll do another one for Chapter three just for the sake of being able to show you something a little sooner here the reason that self Alif you go to the corkboard you'll see your book represented as index cards and your synopses will show up on the index cards which I find very helpful and if you wanted to you could use the threaded cork board mode I've only got one point if you character in this story so there's only one thread but if you had multiple characters you you could label those and and tag those appropriately and you could see those represented on different threads on the threaded cork board so moving through the inspector back to it I want to show you a couple other things so we talked about custom metadata I'd something I think is one of scriveners most flexible and powerful tools that I don't know that it's one of those tools that you hear about it and it's kind of like in one ear out the other at least that was what it was like with me like I I heard about it and people talked about it but I just couldn't visualize it and so I didn't didn't use it cuz it didn't make sense to me so what's cool about custom metadata is custom metadata you're probably you're probably familiar with metadata in the sense that like on Amazon or on Barnes & Noble it basically tells your tells the retailer what your book is about and so you enter keywords you know uses your book description all of that to help them place your book and the right category and recommend it to people on the algorithms and all that now that's not quite what scriveners metadata will do but what it will do is it will remind you what is in your book so you can basically create a skeleton of what's in your book so if I were to go to custom metadata here and I wanted to create a little location or if I wanted to create well let's start with the location first so if I go to outline mode here you'll see that I've got the novel so if you right click on this top bar and then you'll see that the metadata that I added is down here now what I can do is I can type in the location where every chapter appears now here's another way you can use it if I go back and I create another one and let's say I want to tag all of the chapters that take place in a dream so my heroine in this story is a dream age so she has the ability to travel into people's dreams and traveling into dreams is a very important part of the story so if I wanted to go through in editing and edit all of the chapters at the same time that take place in dreams to make sure that those chapters are consistent what I could do is I could create a metadata sequence that has dream sequence and then what I would do is that it's a set of text I would change that to a check box and so then what I could do is we'll go back in here and we'll activate it and then I could simply check all of the chapters that take place in dreams and then what I could do is if I click it I can filter by those and sort it I guess filters nothing right but I can sort it so that that's really really cool so that's custom metadata and that's something that can help you stay organized in your editing now of course I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about labels I don't have any labels set up here but typically the best way to do that is you know labeling by the point of view character if you've only got one point of view character then you up perhaps have to be a little bit more creative in terms of how you use that should you choose to use it and while you're editing the status is also pretty important not something I use a whole lot but certainly if you're editing you can certainly decide and designate where in the process each chapter is so that's custom metadata and outline mode that will help you now moving back to the inspector I'm telling you the inspectors it just it's like a bucket full of goodies so you go you can use snapshots now I talked about this and pretty much all of my Scribner videos snapshots is like an insurance policy right so it takes a snapshot of your chapter it's helpful because you don't have to revert back you know you don't it saves a snapshot at the chapter but you don't have to revert back the entire project so that's why that's helpful should you need to use your snapshots certainly you can roll your series roll your story back or you if you took multiple snapshots you can compare those so that that's something I find useful because sometimes when I'm editing I'm I want to know what I what I wrote in an earlier draft or maybe I went down a different path and I maybe want to explore going back down that path and my next round of edits so that's something that I have found to be immensely useful now I do want to talk about comments as well so Scribner you know when you think about comments they're similar to Microsoft words right but they're not quite as powerful but the benefit of Scribner comments is that they will appear in Microsoft Word should you choose to export them so if I wanted to create a comment here based on moon and I could say I'll put a note to my editor or to myself right if I export that to Microsoft Word I can choose to have that show up in Word so that's another effective thing the way I use that is if I have something that I want my editor to take a look at or double-check I'll usually throw a comment in there so that way when I export this to Word and send it to her she has that built in and I don't have to remember to go put it in there all right so we've hit on the inspector we've hit on outline mode we've hit on the corkboard what I want to talk about next is what I think is the most important tool that Scrivener offers to help you edit and that's revision mode so you can access revision mode by going to format revision mode and basically it will pick first revision so now basically everything that I write we'll show up in a different color which is helpful because as you're looking at your novel you can start to tell what when you wrote different pieces of it so what shows up in red was your first draft which shows up in blue was your second draft and so on and I I think this is so helpful because it when you're looking at a wall of text for hours and hours on end that's black and white it's helpful to add some color to it I just I think the color pops and I think it's really really useful all right so that's the first draft and let's say that I want to write something else and I can go back in and say I've finished all my edits I'm ready to do my second revision and then there you go so you've got basically what I wrote first when I wrote second and then what I wrote third super cool so revision mode can be helpful and it's easy to remove while your revisions later on so if I wanted to go in and remove all my revisions I would just go to format and I would do remove current revision color and then or you could remove all revisions once you're done and you don't need it anymore you're tired of looking at the colors very easy to just revert back so nothing you do in revision mode is by any means permanent now if I'm wanting to do edits that are more surgical in nature as I'm going through this certainly you can you know find things with ctrl F so if I wanted to find every instance of the word magic you know certainly could do that and if I wanted to replace it I certainly could do that as well another way you can search for things is to use the quick search bar up here click click on that search for it this will return any instance of the word magic in your entire project if you go to full project search it will you know represent that on the left hand side of your screen so that's another way to find things and maybe you change the character's name halfway through or you know maybe there's a detail that you're particularly looking for that you want to change that's how you make those surgical edits now I also want to talk about linguistic focus so let's say you've gone through your novel once or twice and you're now you're just really focused on pacing and focused on word choice just making sure everything pops so you're concerned about your any repeat words so you're concerned about anything that's gonna affect the the readability of the novel I recommend you use linguistic focus so if you go to edit and then you go to writing tools linguistic focus this is I think this the coolest feature ever in Scrivener so let's say I'm gonna just wanna look at all my dialogue yeah it will fade out everything else and it will highlight your dialogue and then you can choose you know if you if you the level of fade so let's just say I want to get rid of it entirely so now I can look at every instance of my dialogue I think it's is this so cool it's just incredible and so if you're wanting to get rid of adverbs certainly you can do that I found it's not entirely accurate sometimes but for the most part it's gonna be pretty accurate you can look at any instance of prepositions so one thing I'm infamous for you know my first drafts as I tend to do double prepositions for whatever reason I don't know why if I wanted to look for that since I know about the quirk that I have I would just simply look for any instance where I have prepositions to you know two times in a row so linguistic focus is super helpful definitely something you should consider and get in the habit of using it's a new feature with Scrivener 3 that I think a lot of people will will really enjoy and of course I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about full-screen mode so if we go into full-screen mode it certainly gives you a darker background and sometimes I find it just helps to change things up change the color change the the size of the page that you're working on just helps you see things a little bit more fresh and you know you can use full screen mode to do that so we're gonna hit escape go back to a regular mode now let's talk about one other tool that's helpful sometimes so if I sometimes when I'm editing I think it's helpful to have the story be read to me so you know sometimes people will read their story out loud sometimes that helps them catch errors and identify flow issues but scribner will actually read your story to you so all you have to do is right-click on right clicking highlight and then go to speech and then simply start speaking for a magic tip demons always show up when you least expect them as I shoveled a barrier of snow in front of my shop three of them appeared on the roof roaring against the wintry moon all right so I think that's that's pretty helpful so those are just some basic tips to help you edit your novel and Scrivener you may find yourself using all of them you may find yourself using only a few of them the ones that I find myself using regularly are the corkboard outline mode revision mode and linguistic focus and speech mode use what works for you I hope this video gave you some tips that you can use to edit your book I'd love to hear any editing tips that you have and working with Scrivener be sure to post them in the comments so others in the community can see them and learn as well and don't forget to watch the rest of the videos in the Scribner Central series for more tips on becoming a Scrivener power user and if this is your first time watching I'd love to have you subscribe every week I publish videos just like this one with writing and marketing advice to help you write better and grow your influence with readers thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video

15 thoughts on “How to Edit a Novel in Scrivener

  1. For tips on how to outline your novel in Scrivener, check out this video:

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your Wisdom of Scrivener, its really appreciated.

  3. 🙁 My Scrivener is missing Revision mode and Linguistic focus. I was super excited about both features even though I just bought pro writing aid. Is it because I'm not using a Mac? I'm on a trial of Scrivener supposedly all features are enabled. Grrr Version: – 03 Oct 2018

  4. Thank you so much for your efforts to make these videos, Michael. Super helpful!

  5. Hi Michael,

    Got a few Scrivener based questions for you.

    I notice you use 1 Scrivener file for multiple stories. At this time, I had individual scrivener files for each story. Would love to hear why you use 1 file rather than split them up. I can see some practicality to keeping all stories set within the same universe in 1 file, but I could also see that file getting too large to manage with more than a few full novels.

    I also noticed that, at least for this book, you simply have 1 folder for the book and then 1 file for each chapter. What if you have multiple scenes in a chapter, how do you break that up? I tend to write based on scenes and then organize them into chapters later, but it can get a bit messy in terms of folders and files within Scrivener.

  6. Many thanks for your efforts with the Scrivener videos.
    May I ask you the following question: Is it possible to retain the old wording when editing, e.g. the word "must" is crossed out but still visible after it was replaced with the word "might" in a revision?
    Thank you.

  7. Hey Michael,
    You mentioned creating and leaving comments in the Inspector for your editor to read. I thought that was a good idea, but had begun doing it as footnotes. In my first novel, I wasted a lot of time with my editor going back and forth over vague or unclear points. This time around, I'd like to be able to communicate why I made certain choices from the beginning so my editor better understands my mindset. Is this better served in comments versus footnotes?

  8. I don't even use Scrivener to outline nor edit (I have a similar software) but I do use these same methods manually. I just end up using lots of paper sheets lmao. Yeah, it takes more time but I somehow feel closer to my writing. Thanks for the tips 😉

  9. That was incredibly helpful, as ever, thanks Michael. Like many, I’m so happy you’re making videos again! I have a quick question regarding your chapter summary notes – what’s a 'Reader Cookie'? It sounds interesting 😀

  10. I would love to see formatting tips on footnotes or ways to link glossary definitions to words. Anything to make my paltry epub skills better and get that smooth professional look easier.

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