Monday, 31 March 2014

Writing a Picture Book in Scrivener - Free Scrivener Template

Isn’t Scrivener just the best writing app in the world?  It is so versatile and reasonably priced.  Many different sorts of writers use it for lots of kinds of work.  Personally, I’ve got the start of a Young Adult (YA) novel on the go, using the standard novel template that comes with Scrivener.  But what I really love to write are children’s picture books. Scrivener doesn’t come with a picture book template and I couldn’t find one online, so I made my own which I’m happy to share with you here on my blog:

The two different versions are formatted for US letter paper and UK A4 paper and while they open on a PC they don't look anything like they do on a Mac. I will produce a PC version soon.  Disclaimer, I’m not a published picture book author and I’m not a Scrivener expert, I’m aiming to be published and I just love using Scrivener and what it can do for me.

So once you've downloaded the zip file, extract and move the .scriv file to your writing folder and when you open it up it should look like this:

On the left, in the Binder window, we see a list of documents either entitled Spread … or Untitled Document.  As most picture book writers know, picture books adhere to a very strict form due to the way they are physically constructed.  The pages are printed, in multiples of eight, onto large sheets of paper, which are called a signatures.  So most modern picture books are told across fourteen double page spreads (each single page is a spread) totalling thirty two pages and the story usually begins on page four or five.  So in my template there are 14 Spread documents which serve, when writing your picture book, as headings to help you plan your page breaks.

The first document in the Binder is the Title Page, I have included this to help with submission to editors and agents. In the Editor window, in the middle, add your name, address, telephone number and email on the top left and the manuscript wordcount on the top right.  Your title of your picture book must be centred and wirtten in capitals, your name should be below that and then your story begins.  The template has centred page numbers in the footer and a right-aligned header of the Scrivener document file name (which you should name as your “surname - title” of your story). The whole template is formatted using SCBWI's recommended 12pt Times New Roman font, double line spacing and 1 inch margins. 

If you wish to write without the Spread headings visible in the manuscript, select only, by Command-Clicking the Untitled Documents in the Binder window as shown below:

The Corkboard view in Scrivener is really useful for plotting your writing, it is switched on by pressing this icon:

In the Binder, Shift-Click select the first Spread document and the last Untitled Document to display the Corkboard as I intend it:

Picture Books have a generally acknowledged plot structure consisting of a beginning, middle and end, three problems to solve, etc., so I have used this structure to create plot prompts that are visible on the Spread index cards in the Corkboard view.  You can then write synopses on the Untitled Document index cards and/or add images.  I have more to add on using the Corkboard which I will put in a video tutorial.  

Well I hope that this is useful to the Scrivener-using, picture book writers out there. Please check back soon for the PC version and a video tutorial on how to use the template.  Any feedback is welcome, especially if I need to fix something.  If it has been useful to you then please comment below, follow my blog, like my Facebook page, share on your own social media channels and send me a tip via Paypal:

Thanks for stopping by and thank you to Marcie Atkins, Michelle Cusolito, Darshana Khiani and Sian Mole for testing the template and the plot prompts can be credited to Rob Sanders.