Compiling the Draft in Scrivener for iOS

One of the principal concepts behind Scrivener is that you work with a long document by breaking it up into as many smaller chunks of text as you desire, rather than keeping it all in one long file that you have to scroll through. While the software makes it easy to work with your text in this fashion, you will still need a simple and effective method to create a single document out of all of those little pieces. In this way you can share some or all your work with others, save backup copies to text files, print out your work to paper or even quickly create a PDF for proofreading in your favourite viewer.

We call this process compiling, for it not only combines the many pieces of your project into one document, but can also be set to reformat the text in whole or in part, insert headings such as numbered chapter breaks, convert italics to underscores and quite a bit more. While the flexibility of the compiler can be more fully explored using its simple stylesheet system (which we call Scomp files), you will be pleased to hear that, with a number of provided built-in presets, exporting your work to a single file is only a few taps away.

Compile preview shows the total word & character count and makes it easy to export to other apps.
The Compile preview shows the total word & character count and makes it easy to export to other apps.
We support RTF and Word formats for working with a variety of word processors on or off iOS, as well as FDX (Final Draft) for scriptwriters, PDF for easily storing and sharing printed copy, and finally, plain old text for use in the many plain-text editors the iOS platform has available for it.

Keyboard Shortcuts in Scrivener for iOS

Something you might not expect to see from a debuting iOS app is extensive support for keyboard control, diminishing (and for certain routine tasks, eliminating) the need to reach for the screen in order to get things done. In fact, we have added so many shortcuts that we couldn’t even list them all here (but don’t worry, if you want lists, we’ve got lists).

Write and edit from the keyboard.
Write and edit from the keyboard.
Those who are accustomed to the shortcuts in the macOS version of Scrivener will find familiar controls at their fingertips, such as Shift-Cmd-H to highlight the currently selected text, Opt-Cmd-G to group selected items into a new folder, and Opt-Cmd-DownArrow to view the next document in the binder.

In addition to shortcuts, you will find many other small improvements to keyboard navigation throughout the interface, such as using the Tab key to jump from the title to the synopsis on an index card, or using the Left arrow key to go “back” in the binder and the Right arrow key to navigate into a folder within the sidebar.

Word & Character Counts in Scrivener for iOS

Sometimes we need a little reassurance to see how far we’ve come since the start of a long project; other times we need to revel in the despair of how far we have left to go. Whichever your poison, we’ve got you covered.

Count words (and optionally characters) as you type.
Count words (and optionally characters) as you type.
As you write, cut, edit, or paste text into the editor, the current count for the section you are editing will be updated in the header bar. When you’re not editing, on the iPad the count is always available in the footer. (On the iPhone, whenever you wish to see the count for the section of text you are reading, you need only touch the text to edit it and view the word or character count.)

That is all well and good for individual sections of your text, but what if you wish to view the total count, across all documents set to be a part of your final text? Tap on the stats in the header bar to view the target wheel:

Track draft as well as session goals in one pie chart.
Track draft as well as session goals in one pie chart.
Even if you do not intend to work toward a particular target (words or characters), you can use the basic readout at the top of this panel to get a good estimate of the total count as it stands. Beyond keeping track of the work as a whole you can also set a session goal that will keep a running count of the net word or character count until you start a new session.

Scrivener 1.7 for Windows Now Available

Hello Scrivener Users,

Nine months ago we decided to lay the groundwork for the biggest free feature update for the Windows version of Scrivener to date. We had an ambitious goal to bring as many of the features you’ve been asking for over the years as we could, all the while going through piles of existing code, refining and optimising along the way. It has been a long haul, but we are finally ready to make this available to all current Scrivener users on Windows. We hope you find the new version to be as much of an improvement to your writing projects as we have.

Special thanks go out to all of those beta testers that helped make this release as solid as it could be. We really appreciate the help!

Here are just a few of the things you can expect to see after you update:

Formatting Presets
If your writing calls for a lot of formatting, then you know that in the past it has been difficult to keep a consistent look without using a lot of settings. You can now save formatting into presets, making it easy to apply that same format over and over to different parts of your text. Additionally, we’ve added a feature that will make it easier to compile special formatting while also taking advantage of the compiler’s unique and powerful features for cleaning up your draft. Check out Preserve Formatting and Formatting Presets.

Special note: if you’ve customised your Format Bar, you’ll need to add the new preset button yourself, using the Tools menu.

Custom Meta-Data
Have you ever found yourself wishing you could track even more details in your projects? We’ve got an answer for you. It is now possible to add as many meta-data fields to your project as you wish. These can be displayed as columns in the outliner, or easily accessed in the Inspector sidebar. Keep track of dates, characters, names of flowers, who dunnit in the drawing room with the candlestick, and other matters of dire importance.

Custom Icons
Spruce up your binder with a broad selection of useful icons (or add your own). Nothing says fix me now! like a big yellow caution icon on the chapter you’ve been putting off. Or give yourself a gold star when you finish a scene. Sometimes it’s the little things.

Document Templates
They are kind of like project templates, but for documents in your projects instead. Set up boilerplate texts or even whole folder and file structures for easy duplication. It’s like adding new types of items to your Add menus, such as character sheets, references, to-do lists, or whatever else you can imagine.

Binder Favourites
There are some things we just keep coming back to. Now you can add those things to all of the main navigation and selection menus (such as the Move, Scrivener Link and Go To menus), giving you top-shelf access to these, no matter how buried they may be in your outline.

Multiple Project Notes
Open your project notes in a separate window, and create new notepads as tabs in this window to better organise your thoughts. You’ll still have access to all of them in the Inspector sidebar as well. No more lumping everything in one place!

PDF Display
This one has been a long time coming. We’ve completely replaced the PDF engine in Scrivener with a much improved system for both reading and exporting PDFs. Copy selections of text, or even whole pages at once with a simple right-click. You can also quickly navigate within larger PDFs that have a built-in table of contents, or by clicking on internal links.

Better Web Import
By default, websites will now be converted to PDF using the new engine. The result will faithfully preserve most websites into a stable format that will stand the test of time. We’ve also introduced support for Microsoft’s MHT website archive format. Although Scrivener cannot view MHT files (yet, don’t worry, it’s coming), you can easily open them in compliant browsers with a click of a button. If all you want is a selected piece of a page, you’ll find that copy and paste now works even better with most modern browsers.

Compile Support for Scrivener Links
It might sound arcane, but the ability to link from one piece of your draft to another has important implications: It means you can now cross-reference in a format that will be more useful for your readers, and it also means you can create a table of contents directly in your RTF files. We’ve included a special tool for easily creating a ToC. If you have MS Office installed, links are also supported for the PDF, DOC and DOCX formats.

All Project Templates and Compile Presets Updated
We’ve gone through every project template and compile preset to update them with the new capabilities in this release. You’ll find many more options in the compiler’s Format As menu, and project templates will come outfitted with convenient document templates, among other improvements.

There’s a lot more! If you want to review the full list of changes, please review the official change log.

Special Update Notice

We have identified an issue with the automatic updater that may cause it to fail on some configurations. If this happens to you, don’t panic, all is well! Just head on over to our main website and download the regular installer.

Once that is downloaded, you can run it against your current installation to upgrade it seamlessly. It is safe to run this .exe file without uninstalling first. As with all software updates, your work will not be disturbed.

This update is recommended for all users. You may use the Help menu to check for updates, and let the automatic updater run. However if you are running behind a proxy, would like to set aside a copy of the installer for safekeeping or have problems using the updater, you can always download a copy of the full installer using the link above.

Best wishes,
Ioa Petra’ka
(Documentation; Support; Design)

NaNo Tips for Writing with Scrivener

The intention here is to share some tips that I have found useful when working with Scrivener during my excursions into the realm of National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo” for short, or even shorter, just “NaNo”. If you have any ideas for this series, please feel free to drop me a line.

When writing your book this month, it is widely considered acceptable to write as much as you can, even if the quality of what you write may not be what you would consider “up to snuff” for the story you are writing. Since the daily word count is the main goal of the project for most people, this is okay. However, if you are also working toward the goal of producing something worthy of publishing—or at the very least, something you can be proud of—you might wish to somehow mark passages of text that you do not feel happy with, without completely deleting them or excluding them from the total counted work. There are a few ways of doing this in Scrivener.

Inline Annotations: The first and most direct method is through the use of inline annotations. Annotations can be used to mark blocks of text as a “comment”, and it works a bit like a toggle, much like a bold or italic range of text might—but this is merely the default way in which Scrivener treats them when you compile. In the “Footnotes/Comments” compile option pane, you can elect to leave annotations in the text, right where they are in your editor. You can even remove the enclosing brackets that Scrivener would normally insert around them, causing them to appear as normal text. For NaNo, all you need to do is submit raw words. You don’t need a formatted document, and so compiling as a .TXT file is perfect as it will strip out markings such as annotation colour. The advantage of this method is that it is as easy to “delete” a poorly phrased sentence as it is to italicise it, and it even looks a bit like you took a red pen to a printout, which is always satisfying.

A “Dust Bin” File: Another way of approaching this is to indeed fully remove the offending text from the section you are working on, but in such a way that it remains counted. An easy way of doing this is to select the text and then right-click on it, choosing to “Append Selection to Document”. What I like to do is create a single “Dust Bin” document at the bottom of my draft for the collection of all these bits of text. On the Mac, you can set that as a favourite document by right-clicking on the “Dust Bin” item in the Binder and selecting “Add to Favorites”. This will bump the item up to the top of the append sub-menu for easy access in the future. While this method takes a bit more work, the advantage is that it leaves inline annotations free to use for their intended purpose, as comments to yourself while writing, as well as keeping your text clean and easy to read. So long as the “Dust Bin” text item is located somewhere in the draft, they will be counted by the various statistics tools available to you, and included in the draft when you compile. Once November has expired, you can simply move this file elsewhere or delete it entirely.

Inspector Comments: Similar to the above, this technique moves the text to the Inspector sidebar instead of a secondary document. Inspector comments, like inline, can be included in the final output, with the advantage of being pinned to the precise location where they came from. That may come in handy if you change your mind later on. One downside to using these is that text moved to comments will not be counted in the program’s statistics while you work. (If you are a Windows user and cannot find this feature, try downloading the NaNoWriMo demo version. It has a sneak preview of the feature, which will be included in the next stable release.)

Overstrike: A natural way of marking text to be deleted is to draw a line through it. It’s easy to mark text with an overstrike in Scrivener, and on the Mac you can even set the compiler to automatically delete any text that has been overstruck. For NaNoWriMo, that won’t matter much, because as we’ve already noted, you want all of this to be in your word count anyway. For Windows users, while there isn’t a way to strip out overstruck text automatically, you can however search for overstruck text with the Edit/Find/Find by Formatting tool. An alternative to overstrike, if you find it causes too much visual clutter, are highlighters. A number of preset highlighter colours are available. Like overstrike they can be searched for with “Find by Formatting”, even by colour.

There are many other ways to sequester text to the loony bin without fully getting rid of it. Stashing them into the Document Notes sidebar is a good choice, as this pane is readily accessible even from Composition Mode (called Full Screen on Windows). You can turn on Notes export in the compile Formatting option pane to include them in the overall count (though do note that Scrivener’s internal statistics features will no longer pick up on them if you do this).

I have found the ability to set aside text I don’t much care for to be liberating in an endeavour like this. It is all too easy to just throw up your hands and tell yourself that quality shouldn’t matter. And to a degree, when you have 50,000 words to write in 30 days, that is not an unfair assessment. But being able to physically shove text aside that you know you’re not happy with, and forging on without it toward a better core of text that you are happy with can help keep your spirits up throughout the month.

As always, remember that we have a coupon available for 20% off to all participants of NaNoWriMo, and those that qualify as winners by November 30 will receive a 50% off coupon toward Scrivener on the platform of your choosing (Windows or Mac OS X). Good luck, and keep writing!