Scrivener and One Stop for Writers: Perfect Tools For Crafting Powerful Scenes

Many of you know that Angela and I are super excited about One Stop for Writers and how it simplifies the writing process for authors. So when we get notes from writers going on about One Stop’s tools…well. Icing on the cake. Rodney Buxton recently reached out to let us know how much he appreciated the Scene Maps tool and the ability to export his One Stop tools to Scrivener. He was so excited, he asked if he could write a post about it. So of course we said yes…

For my first novel, I took the pantster approach. It worked, I finished the book, but it took forever. I wrote scenes I didn’t need; I wrote myself down dead-end paths. I quickly realized this wasn’t the way for me.

For my second novel, I wrote an outline of scenes with one sentence to describe the basic action. This worked much better, but there were still scenes I needed to add, a lot of thinking I had to do about why the characters were doing things, and what would move the story in the right direction. Fast forward to my discovery of One Stop for Writers’ Scene Maps.

Map out Your Scenes

There are two mapping tools, so I tried one of each. You can capture similar information in either, but the Formal Scene Map broke down into more detail and allowed me to identify the motivations for the scene. That, to me, was important—to know why the scene exists and what the characters want to achieve. If you feel both versions require too much information, the Timeline tool lets you enter a title and description with nothing else.

I started by adding scenes that moved the plot along. Initially, I just added the scene with the title and the primary emotion. I didn’t fill in any of the other boxes. This was just to get the ideas down and see where the story was going. 

Once I had all the scenes I thought I would need, I went back to the first one and entered the outer and inner motivation. 

Here I referred constantly to the story map and character profiles I had already created. I took my time to ensure the storyline moved along logically and the motivations made sense. I also realized several times that I needed to add a new scene for the motivations to make sense. This is easy to do—just click the “New Scene” button, type the title, and move it to where you want it on the map.

Next, I tackled the outer conflict, inner conflict, and stakes for each scene. Conflict drives the story forward. Without it, nothing happens. What’s at stake goes hand in hand with the conflict, so it made sense to work on these three together. What’s helpful about this tool is that the information doesn’t have to be completed in order. Sometimes I knew the inner conflict and used that to figure out the outer conflict. Or I knew exactly what was at stake, which led me to the conflict.

Finally, I tackled emotional state. This could be done when choosing the primary emotion for a scene, but having all the other information beforehand allowed me to better define what the character was feeling. Since it’s a free-form text box, I either wrote a generic statement for the scene or detailed the emotional state for various characters involved. Whatever seemed appropriate. Again, referring to the character profile and emotion-related thesauruses helped build this.

And, presto! I had successfully mapped out a scene that was character-centric, contained all the right ingredients, and kept my story moving in the right direction. 

At this point, pantsters are probably thinking this is way too much work and even ardent plotters may feel overwhelmed. I can assure you, this takes far less effort and thought than rewriting a scene five times because it doesn’t work, or writing a scene only to find it goes nowhere. It doesn’t take much time. Two days on and off, and I had more information to start with than ever before, even when I had spent weeks planning.

Export Them to Scrivener

At this point I printed the PDF, spread it out on the desk and got ready to write. I opened Scrivener…and my heart sank. All this great information was tied up in a PDF or printed sheets of paper. I’d already written my scenes in One Stop, and I didn’t want to go through that effort again. That’s when I discovered the Export My Data function at One Stop for Writers.

This allows you to transfer your One Stop data to your own system—or, for Scrivener users, directly to your binder. There are two ways to do this.

OPML Format

On the Export My Data page, select the tools you’d like to export from the OPML column. Then, open Scrivener and navigate to the File menu. Choose Import, then OPML or Mindmap File, and click browse to select that file. Your data will be re-created in your Scrivener binder.

While this process will take care of exporting your files to Scrivener, it’s not my preferred method. For one thing, the titles of the scenes aren’t used for the files in Scrivener. Also, each piece of text entered in the scene is created as a separate document in the sidebar, which isn’t the result I was looking for. So I’ve found a second method that results in a cleaner export.

TXT Format

Follow the same process above for exporting, but choose the desired files from the TXT column at One Stop. In the downloaded file, you’ll need to make a few format changes, but it only takes a minute. For each scene, replace the “Point X” and “TITLE” lines with ### (in front of the actual title). Save the file, and that’s it.

In Scrivener, select the manuscript folder, then click File->Import->Import and split. Select your file, and enter ### in the box at the bottom of the dialog, then click OK.

That’s it. All your scenes are created and your One Stop text is in the scene’s body rather than separated out into individual files in the sidebar.

Creating scenes that drive the story and push the protagonist through their arc can be challenging. But One Stop’s Scene Mapping tools make the job a lot easier. And if you’re using Scrivener, it’s a simple matter of exporting your data so you can get writing quicker. And isn’t that what we all want?

Want to give these tools a spin as you plan your novel? One Stop for Writers has a Free Trial!


Rodney is a reformed pantster and an author of paranormal romance involving vibrant vampires. Capital Thirst is his first novel and Beverly Hills Torture will be available in early 2020. You can find him online at Facebook and Twitter.

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This entry was posted in Motivation, One Stop For Writers, Story Structure, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Scrivener and One Stop for Writers: Perfect Tools For Crafting Powerful Scenes

  1. Julie Glover says:

    Wow. I’m glad I saved this article! I do scene outlines after the first draft is done, so that I can see what I’ve got, where I need to fill in gaps, how to restructure. Since I currently have my draft printed out and ready to go through, I’m thrilled to read this primer! I can use the timeline feature on One Stop that I love and then export this all to a new Scrivener files where I can easily drop scenes and work from there. THANK YOU! This is wonderful info.

  2. wordpress says:

    Good info. Lucky me I found your blog by chance (stumbleupon).
    I’ve saved as a favorite for later!

  3. I am so glad to hear that you’re using your work at One Stop for Writers at Scrivener. It’s such a favorite, and as Lee created Scrivener for Windows and Linux, he wanted to make sure it worked great for Scrivener users. 🙂

    Thanks so much for breaking down the process, Rodney!

  4. Patricia Hansen says:

    I posted a message recently asking when will the Confict Thesoures be available to purchase. So far I haven’t received a response. Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.

    • Hi Patricia,

      Yes I remember. I did respond, but maybe you didn’t see it. I’ll copy it here so you don’t have to hunt it down:

      Hi Patricia,

      Thanks for your interest in this thesaurus. 🙂 Becca and I always test out a thesaurus idea here before choosing what we will turn into a book. If enough people ask for it, then that usually means we will work on it next. And regardless if we do or not, we also expand each thesaurus and add it to a permanent home at One Stop for Writers: https://onestopforwriters.com/

  5. M. Lee Scott says:

    Rodney, your article has convinced me to dust off my Scrivener program, spend more time with my subscription to One Stop, and finish my manuscript! I surely can use the help with my scenes. Thanks for this informative post. Well done!

    • I’m so glad! Scrivener is excellent, and I love that we’re able to integrate with them in this way to make the writing process easier.

    • RW Buxton says:

      I certainly hope you do. For me integrating the two together has made a huge difference in my workflow. Everything now feeds from one into the other so I haven’t lost time or work.

      Both are great products and using them together is wonderful.

      Rodney

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