Writing a Chapter or Scene in Scrivener's Text Editor

Writing a Chapter or Scene in Scrivener's Text Editor via ShesNovel.com

Welcome to yet another week of Scrivener fun!

If you’ve been following along since week one then you are ready to tackle this week's lesson. If not, why not head back over to the other weeks before we get started? Sound good?


This week, we are talking about working with a text document within Scrivener's Editor. This is the part where you actually start writing your novel in the program. Hurray!

Once you've got your novel project open, your first step is to click on the document you would like to edit. You can do this by either clicking on the document icon in your Binder or on the note card icon in your Corkboard. You should see a text document appear in the main window of the Scrivener program. This main window is also known as your Editor.


If you don’t see a text document appear, make sure that you double clicked on the document icon and that your Editor window is set to View the Document. View the Document is the left icon in the center of your program toolbar, where the Scrivenings icon would be if you were outside of your text document. 

the editor header

The first thing to note about the Editor is that your document's title will appear in the Editor header bar. Beside it, you should see a small paper and arrow icon. When you click on this, several options will appear. Reveal in Binder will open up your text document’s folder in the Binder while Path will reveal the folder(s) in which you have placed your text document.


Go To helps you navigate to other folders and documents related to your current document, and Take Snapshot allows you to make a copy of your document before editing. Finally, Lock in Place allows you to lock your document in the Editor so that you can click on items in the Binder without opening them.

Next to the paper icon, you will see two arrows. These will take you to the text document immediately before and after the one you are currently on.

the editor toolbar

The Editor toolbar is positioned directly above your Editor header.

The small ‘a’ icon on the left allows you to switch between text style presets. Working left to right, the next drop down menu allows you to change the font. The following icons help you change the font style and the font size. The next dropdown menu features a bunch of numbers that may or may not make sense to you. This is the margins and spacing preset for your entire document. We will be talking about presets in a later post.


Next, you have ‘B’, ‘I’, and ‘U’ icons. These allow you to make your highlighted text bold, italicized, or underlined. The next four icons allow you to align your document to the left, to the center, as justified (with all lines beginning at the margin) or to the right. The A icon with the bar of color underneath allows you to change the color of your text while the highlighter icon allows you to highlight a section of your text in a specific color.

The next icon allows you to insert a table into your document. Clicking on the small arrow next to it will bring up several table options. The square yellow icon allows you to make a comment on your document (which we will also talk about in a later post), while the three dots and lines icon allows you to insert a list into your text document.

If you are ever unsure of what an icon is, you can hover over it to reveal its title.

Note: Some icons may differ between the Mac and PC versions of Scrivener.

the editor footbar

The Editor footer is the bar at the bottom of your Editor screen. All the way to the left, you will find the zoom for your Editor. You can change how close in or far away you are from your document by changing the zoom, but keep in mind that this does not alter the document font sizes or presets.


In the center of your footer you will find your document's word and character counts. This is especially helpful if you are working toward a certain goal for your individual document.

Finally, in the right corner of your Editor footer you will find a small target icon. Clicking on this icon allows you to set a target for your document. You can insert the number you would like to reach and alter whether that number stands for words or characters.

By clicking okay, you will notice a bar appear in your footer that will track your progress. It starts off as red and will turn bright green when you have completed your goal. You can more accurately track your goal by looking to the center of the footer where your document's word and character counts live. You should now see how many words or characters you have written out of your goal.

splitting the editor

Finally, Scrivener actually allows you to split the Editor so that you can view two documents at once. This is especially helpful when you wish to use your research and notes while writing. You can either split your Editor vertically or horizontally by clicking on the matching icon in the right corner of your Editor header. When you first click on the icon, your Editor will split to reveal your current document in both windows.


In order to open up a separate document in the second window, make sure that you have selected that Editor (the header bar will turn blue). Then, click on your desired document's icon in the Binder. You should now see the second document appear in your second Editor. You can change the horizontal and vertical split at any time by clicking on the appropriate header icon. You can also change the width/height of each document by clicking and dragging the area in between each Editor.

You can close the second Editor at any time by selecting the Editor you would like to keep on your screen and then selecting the No Split icon in the right corner of your Editor header.


Let's Chat!

That sums up today’s lesson on the Scrivener Editor and working with a text document. Your next step? Start writing that novel! Have a question? Don’t hesitate to ask it in the comments or tweet me @ShesNovel. Have a fantastic week!

P.S. If you enjoyed this article and have yet to purchase Scrivener, would you consider buying the program through one of my links? I make a small commission off of the sale at absolutely no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for your support! You are amazing.

Click here to purchase Scrivener for Mac. Click here to purchase Scrivener for Windows.

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Kristen Kieffer is a writer of fantasy fiction and the creative writing coach behind She's Novel. She's made it her mission to help aspiring authors write sensational novels because obliterating expectations is her jam. Her other passions? Coffee and Tolkien, of course!

Kristen is the author of the upcoming The Books of Maveryn series and The Astral Series, as well as several non-fiction books for writers.