Scrivener

Scrivener's new logo

I’ve shared some tips and a masterlist for prospective writers (there’s a second masterlist here) and I’ve just realized that I never explained what Scrivener is, thinking that everyone would know better than me. But I believe that having a writing blog is all about sharing how you understand and use things because every writer is unique and your way might resonate with someone out there. So here I am, about to tell you some things you should know about Scrivener.

First, you should know I use Scrivener for Windows, so I’ve been a Scrivener 1 user for years, and I’ve recently upgraded to Scrivener 3. Good news, everyone: if you own a license for Scrivener 1 or Scrivener 2 (only available for Mac), you’ll get an awesome discount for Scrivener 3. You just need to download the free trial and then click on “Upgrade from an older version” when this window pops up:

Screenshot of the Scrivener pop-up window where they prompt you to Enter your License, buy a new license or continue with the trial version.

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know Scrivener: yes, you can download a trial version here. The trial is the actual program, no limitations until the trial period ends. Moreover, the trial period is 30 days, but they don’t have to be consecutive, so you might be able to enjoy it for 30 weeks if you just use it once per week. If you want to see whether Scrivener would be good for you, I encourage you to use the trial version, because it’s very difficult to know unless you’ve familiarized yourself with the program and used it for a while. I’ve been a user for years and have just decided to take advantage of some advanced features I’d been ignoring until now, so you can definitely do that too.

Scrivener can be a bit overwhelming at first, but they have a very nice tutorial, and you can choose whether you want to learn only the basics. I’ve completed the whole tutorial at least three times because I keep forgetting stuff, but it’s not necessary. Scrivener is very user-friendly, so you can just choose a template for your new project and start writing. For me, the best approach would be to try different things and find out what you want to keep, make a template (I’m working on that at the moment), and use it on all of your projects from that point on.

But why do I use Scrivener? Well, I first bought it because I needed a program that would save automatically, create backups, and allow me to have everything (research, images, writing) related to one project (my thesis) in one place. Basically, I use it because I’m forgetful and scatterbrained. It’s also incredibly easy to compare information with the split screen, and you can now have over 5 files open at the same time if you use the new Copyholder and Quick Reference functions:

A screenshot of five files open on the same Scrivener project by splitting the editing window in two, using copyholders for both files, then a Quick Reference on a floating window.

Now that I’m using Scrivener for my personal projects, I find myself appreciating its organizing features more and more: the corkboard, the labels, the targets, the metadata… And these have improved in the new Scrivener 3, where now there’s a freeform corkboard, a label thread, section types, a revision mode, bookmarks, a daily target calculator (useful when you have a deadline), etc. Scrivener 3 even has themes and a name generator! But, even before I started using any of those features, I liked Scrivener because it was very easy to organize the project into different folders and documents, so I could have a folder for the Manuscript, one for the Characters, one for the Settings and another for the Research. The text could be split into different documents for each chapter or scene, and they could be compared or swapped around easily.

A screenshot of the Scrivener Tutorial, showing the different folders and documents on the left sidebar.

All in all, Scrivener is a very versatile tool, and not expensive at all if you take into account that you’re buying a license. I’ve been using my first license for almost 10 years on 8 different computers bought in 3 different countries, customer support has been super fast the only time I’ve needed them, and they don’t force you to upgrade if you don’t want to. But I still encourage you to try it out before you buy it, because it’s not a tool for everyone. By the way, November is a good month to try it out because sometimes they have special offers during NaNoWriMo.

I don’t want to make this unnecessarily long, because you already have the tutorial and the official website explaining all the different features, but now you can use the comments section if you need anything. Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.

Art – Character design II by RoyalSea Art

As promised last week, I come bearing more art! This time, it’s the other main character from the Sanctuary Project:

A skinny creature with purple skin, big white eyes and elongated limbs is holding a blue bioluminiscent butterfly. The light reflects on his very big eyes. The hair is long, and black and white.

As I said in the previous Sanctuary post, this WIP was going to be a High Fantasy short story full of atmospheric vibes and aesthetics, but it will be a bit longer than I expected. I think I mentioned it is set underground, so there are characters who don’t look like your regular human. Such is the case of this (literal) cave dweller who is trying to follow his dreams… even if his friends and family don’t understand him. There are many places he wants to visit and views he wants to see and, among his people, that might be a bit peculiar.

The artwork was done by RoyalSea Art, who is amazing at character design, as you can see. Please do check their work and commission information in the following links:

By the way, they were kind enough to make a spoilerific version of this character so we could all see how he’ll look like.
You can see it below if you don’t mind spoilers.

The character looks exactly the same as the one above, but the hair is completely white.

Art – Character design by RoyalSea Art

As promised in my previous art-related post, I come bearing more art! This time, it’s one of the main characters from the Sanctuary Project:

A plump water elemental judging you with their arms crossed.

As I said in the previous Sanctuary post, this WIP was going to be a High Fantasy short story full of atmospheric vibes and aesthetics, but it will be a bit longer than I expected. I think I mentioned it is set underground, but there are characters that used to live underwater. Such is the case of this genderfluid water elemental who is always in the wrong place at the wrong time… or maybe it’s the right place and time, but it will take a while for them to realize. If you like this character, soon I will share the other main character of this project, so do come back next week.

The artwork was done by RoyalSea Art, who is amazing at character design, as you can see. Please do check their work and commission information in the following links:

Art – Chibi characters by Helen Kord

As promised in my previous art-related post, I come bearing more art! This time, it’s a pair of chibi characters that belong to the Fireflies Project:

A boy with brown hair (left) and a redheaded boy (right) looking and smiling at each other. The one on the left is wearing a black turtleneck and black trousers while he holds a ginger cat. the one on the right wears a dark t-shirt that once belonged to the other man and a red jacket with rainbow-coloured details. He's petting the head of a brown labrador sitting between them.
The dog and the cat are also looking at each other, and the cat is softly booping the dog with a gentle paw.

Fireflies was supposed to be a Low Fantasy short story set in Madrid, but I don’t know how long it’ll end up being. I think I mentioned it is set in northern Spain and animals are important. As you can see, they’re so central to the story they’re even pictured here. These are the pets that belong to the main characters (also pictured in this image), and I hope you find them as deadly cute as I do!

The artwork was done by Helen Kord, the person with the most impeccable taste I’ve ever met. Please do check their work and commission information in the following links:

Art – Concept Art by Cascuda

Happy Valentine’s Day!

One of my goals last December was to commission art for my unfinished projects. I was trying to find some motivation to keep writing after a very hard year, and I decided it would be the perfect Christmas present to myself.

And today I can finally share with you the first concept art I commissioned for the Sanctuary Project:

An underground lake with an island in the center. There are two characters on the nearby shore, separated by a river. One is short, blue and transparent, the other is tall, dark and wears a cloak.

This WIP was going to be a High Fantasy short story full of atmospheric vibes and aesthetics, but it might end up becoming something a bit longer. As you can see, the story will be set partly underground and feature characters from different species. I created it as a counterpoint to my other projects, so it started as something short and fun to write, precisely because it was so different. I recycled tropes from my other projects, but subverted them, and I tried to keep it light… but it has become something longer and more serious than I originally intended.

But let’s talk about the most important thing: the amazing artist of this illustration is Cascuda, and you can find all their amazing work and commission information clicking on the following links:

Eleventh Notebook

Mafalda notebook with a yellow cover and Mafalta looking at a starfish.

After my previous notebook, I started this one because it had been a present from a friend. I chose it before Quino passed away, so it unfortunately took a new and much deeper meaning while I was using it.
It was a pretty nice notebook, with a good size, blue and green pages signed by Mafalda, a document pocket with Mafalda’s face, and a couple of comic strips inside. By the way, the Spanish text in the cover means “And why don’t we start building a better world?”, which is why I thought it would be good to do some world-building next.

Don’t think lockdown has been that good for my writing inspiration. Holidays were, though. And I’ve also used this notebook for my research, which just involved reading and taking notes, so I’m still a turtle writer. Don’t worry.

Anyway, I wrote down several ideas and questions, mostly for the Academy and Sanctuary projects. I also wrote sample outlines and used them with these projects. However, I’m having some trouble with the Academy outline because I tried to merge two characters into one to fix something, and suddenly some other things didn’t make sense. Fortunately, I think I have realized what the problem is, but I ended up so frustrated I couldn’t continue working on Academy any more (and isn’t that the story of my life?), so I focused on Sanctuary then, and I’m still working on it.

Writing Projects

I’ve talked about my projects before in this post, and I’ve given more details in my notebook updates, but I keep losing track of my ongoing projects because there are so many of them. I saw Spanish authors sometimes have a Future Projects page on their blogs, and I decided to copy the idea because, if it’s difficult for me… no one else would be able to follow, right?

Anyway, I’ve created a list, and now each project comes with a provisional placeholder title, a short explanation and a free stock image. Being able to visualize my projects like this is amazing, and I’m already looking forward to working on them again, so I’m glad I did this.

Hope you like it too!!!

A wolf.

Feathers

A High Fantasy short story

This one is short and has very few characters. Animals, magic and loneliness are important.

I’m working on the outline, but let’s be honest, I’m not a plotter. If only inspiration would take me here…

A volcano erupting against a starry sky.

Oracle

A High Fantasy Romance

This is my longest and most ambitious project, and the first one I started plotting. It’s been years in the making, so it’s had lots of changes, and it will probably have many more before I’m done with it.

It’s going to take a while because it’s a looong story with slow-burn and pining.

Madrid's Plaza Mayor.

Brothers

A Historical Romance

This one will also be set in Spain some centuries ago. If all goes well, it might even have more than one book, each featuring a different couple.

I’m already working on the research phase of this project, but I still don’t know how long it will take.

Want to see more? You can browse through all of them in my new “Projects” page here. And I’ve added the link to the blog’s menu, so you can check them out whenever you want.

Tenth Notebook

Kimmidoll notebook with a grey cover with green plants and a pink bird. There is a grey ribbon bookmark attached, and at the end it has a kimmidoll wearing a kimono with the notebook's pattern.

I got this Kimmidoll notebook ages ago, when they were still slightly popular, and the pages are already yellowing. The notebook actually fits inside the grey cover, so it could be reused for another notebook, but I don’t have any other notebook that can fit inside.

Anyway, I filled this one with lots of notes because I’ve been doing some research, reading about writing Romance, the history of Madrid and mythology. I also found some notes about how to cope with lockdown, mental health and self-care.

Remember I said I’d decided to write and read what I enjoyed? Well, I was enjoying reading non-fiction, since I’ve always loved learning, and I’ve been writing some random scenes out of order, and it’s been good. I haven’t been writing the story I wanted to finish, but I have for the longest High Fantasy one I’ve been thinking about for years. I started wondering, again, whether I should have one, two or more POVs, so it will take much longer to write.

I’ve come to accept that this is how it works for me. It will take me a long time to finish anything, but if this is what I need to keep enjoying it, that’s what I’ll do. If it sounds like I’m trying to convince myself, it’s because I am, but I’ve realized that, after deciding I’m going to take my time and follow inspiration, I started writing more in my notebook. I finished it sooner than I expected and I’ve already started another one, so this new method might be working!

Yes, I write less often. Yes, I write only what I feel like and don’t try to focus on one project any more. But somehow, I’m also writing more than when I was trying to force myself to write daily for the same project. So maybe this is my method.

Maybe you think I could have posted this sooner given I finished the notebook so fast, and you’d be right. I had planned to post this back in July, but I’ve been too busy at work and didn’t have time to finish transcribing the notebook. I just can’t sit down and stare at a computer for so many hours. It’s not good for my mental health.

Anyway, now I’ve finished this, so I can celebrate and move forward!