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.

32 comments:

  1. Claire, you rock! Thanks for this.

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    1. Thanks Kirsten and thanks for leaving a comment.

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  2. Super. Thanks so much, Claire!

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    1. You're welcome, Joanna, thanks for stopping by to comment.

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  3. How generous of you to share. Thanks so much Claire!

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    1. You're welcome, thanks for commenting.

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  4. anxiously waiting for the windows version <3

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    1. Watch this space, thanks for commenting!

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    2. Claudia the windows version is now online:

      http://claireobrienart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/update-scrivener-picture-book-template.html?m=0

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  5. Much needed. Great job. Maybe add an "About this template" text file above the manuscript and change the name of the manuscript folder from "Picture Book Template" to "Picture Book Manuscript" in keeping with Scrivener nomenclature?

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    1. Thanks for the comment and useful suggestions, I will implement them. Thanks again.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Claire,

    I can't seem to download the templates. I get a lot of files, but don't know which one to use to open it up.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Kathy, it should download as a zip file which you need extract (apologies if that's what you have already done). Have you watched my tutorial on how to use it? The start talks about the zip file: http://claireobrienart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/how-to-use-my-scrivener-picture-book.html?m=0 let me know if this doesn't help.

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  8. Great article Claire! Templates are one of my favorite Scrivener features. I'll be sure to add it to my list and link back to your site for anyone else that wants to use it!

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    1. Thanks so much Sean! Much appreciated! I know who to drop in on if I need anything for NaNoWriMo if I ever attempt it. Thanks again.

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  9. Thanks for the template. That wasn't even what I was searching for. I was looking for a method (and to see if it was even possible). I'll surely try your template. For now, as a pay, you must know that your blog came up first in my google search for "children book scrivener" :)

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    1. Thanks for commenting Carl, I hope it is of some use for you. Nice to know I'm a Google star! ha ; )

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  10. Sorry if I've commented twice. I don't see my first post. I am looking for children's book layout tutorials and I found yours. Thanks. Do you have any complete illustrations for books that I can see?

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    1. Thanks for your comment. This tutorial is for the writing side of picture books, you can see my work here http://claireobrienart.blogspot.co.uk/p/portfolio.html
      and I discuss picture book illustration in my http://claireobrienart.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Spread%20of%20Wonder posts.

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    1. You're welcome! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  12. ummm...how do you do the picture part of the picture book?

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    1. Hi Ellie, thanks for commenting. This template is just for writing the words in the expected picture book manuscript format for submitting to agents and publishers. I'd use Adobe InDesign to format the words and illustrations in a picture book dummy and final book. I'm actually working on a picture book dummy tool which I hope to release soon. I hope that answers your question?

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  13. Hi Claire. While typing the text, should there be a double line spacing in the editor showing? Hitting the return button creates that right now. I am not familiar with the official formats, so maybe that's how it's supposed to be. However, I am copying and pasting from another scrivener document into your template and because of that, the double line spacing is gone after that. I tried to use the Body format preset, but it doesn't seem to be configured for the double line spacing. I also checked what the output format is after compiling, but it seems to take what is in the document as is and doesn't create a special double line spacing compilation.

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    1. Hi Andre, thanks for your question. Most publishers and agents expect 12pt Times New Roman font, double spaced, so yes the double spacing is intentional. Re the Body format preset not being there I think I need to update my template to include it, thanks, I will get around to it at some point.

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  14. I am excited to try this. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Lindsay, hope it's useful for you.

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  15. This is very generous of you and helpful for so many writers. Thank you.
    I am older-80 now, and still feel anxious about Scrivener which I bought so maybe I shall try it. I live in Canada.
    http://janebuttery.com

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    1. Thanks for commenting Jane, what an inspiration you are! I hope I am still as hungry to learn and succeed at your age. I hope this helps you with Scrivener, thanks again!

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