Writing with Scrivener: Create a Character Profile Template in Scrivener 3 | Leisa Eining | Skillshare

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Writing with Scrivener: Create a Character Profile Template in Scrivener 3

teacher avatar Leisa Eining, Writer & Scrivener Enthusiast

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Create a Character Template in Scrivener 3

    • 2. Welcome!

    • 3. UPDATED: Set up the Templates Folder

    • 4. UPDATED: Create the Character Template

    • 5. UPADATED: Change or Customize Binder Icons

    • 6. UPDATED: Use the Character Template

    • 7. UPDATED: Create, Assign and Show Labels

    • 8. UPDATED: Adding Keywords

    • 9. Using Keywords Demo

    • 10. Reference Character Info using Bookmarks in the Inspector

    • 11. Use Quick Reference Panels to Reference Character Information

    • 12. Wrap up

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About This Class


Save Time & Frustration by Easily Referencing & Tracking Character Information while Writing your Book

The Character Worksheets included in Scrivener's Novel Template are very basic and static--something that you could do in any Word Processing software; but with Scrivener's ability to break up into relevant chunks, reorganize, track, associate, and group into collections--character profile information can be so much more dynamic and useful.

The Writing with Scrivener series of courses takes advantage of Scrivener 3's Bookmarks, Keywords,  Labels, Quick Reference Panels and much more.  Keywords and Labels apply to all versions of Scrivener including Scrivener for Windows.  Quick Reference Panels are available in Scrivener 2 and 3 and Bookmarks is a new feature in Scrivener 3.  

THIS IS A WORKSHOP—Important to apply to a real project!

This isn’t a lecture course that you just watch through. To benefit the most from this Writing with Scrivener series, it is important to apply it to a current, real writing project as you follow along in the course.  I would encourage you to do all of the assignments given in the course and submit them for review by your fellow classmates and me.  If you have any questions, be sure to ask in the community forum.  


Are you a Scrivener for Windows user and feeling left out?

If you have Scrivener for Windows, you may want to download the Scrivener 3 for Windows Beta version.  It still has a few things missing and certain things aren't working exactly the way they will be, but everything you are learning in this course is available in the Beta version. Click on the link to go to the Scrivener 3 for Windows Beta Version download page.

Download the Scrivener 3 for Windows Beta Version


Having two computer screens to work with [with the Course Content on one screen and your Scrivener Project open on another screen] is the optimal set-up; and ALWAYS watch the videos in Full Screen.

Anyone can do one of the following:

1. Use two separate computers
2. Connect a second monitor to your computer
3. Use a tablet for the course content, and your computer for the Scrivener Project.
4. Hook up a flat screen TV to your computer using an HDMI cord 

However, if you are truly limited to one screen, put your Scrivener program on one side of the screen and the course content on the other side.

More courses by Leisa Eining

Scrivener 3: NEW FEATURE using Multiple Scrivener Projects in Tabs

Writing with Scrivener: Create an Inspiring Writing Environment in Compose Mode

Scrivener 3: From A-Z for Busy Writers

Meet Your Teacher

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Leisa Eining

Writer & Scrivener Enthusiast


Great News! Scrivener 3 for Windows 3.0 was released yesterday (March 22, 2021).  To purchase or upgrade go here.  If you have purchased the original Windows version recently, you will be able to upgrade for free.  If you've had the original Windows version for a long time, you will be able to upgrade for a discount.

Scrivener 3 for Windows is very similar to Scrivener 3 for Mac.  So, most of my Scrivener classes will be applicable to the new Windows version.  After you upgrade to the new version, be sure to check out my classes. 

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1. Create a Character Template in Scrivener 3: Hi, I'm Lisa dining and I help writers Master Scribner's powerful features to manage any writing project. And in this course, I'm going to show you how to use Scribner's document template, feature too easily reference and track character information while writing your story. Creating your characters is one of the first things you'll do when planning a short story or novel. Typically, a character profile is created in a word processing program and printed out for reference. However, since it is on a static page, you have to search through it to find specific character information. But Scrivener has a more efficient method, using document templates in combination with project bookmarks. Document templates are more than just a one page format. They can include as many folders or files as you need, along with any associated bookmarks, keywords, labels and metadata. This course is for anyone who wants to use scrivener for more than simply a word processor and take full advantage of scrivener threes features to streamline the writing process. First, you'll set up the Templates folder and create the character template with its information files and folders. Then you'll use the character template to create a character file for each of your characters and fill out the character information. Next you'll create, apply and showed labels and keyword chips on index cards in the corkboard view. And finally, you'll learn how to reference your character information quickly and easily, using project bookmarks in the Inspector and quick reference panels, whether you are writing in the regular Scrivener interface or in the distraction free composed mode. By the end of the course, you'll have a character profile template that you can use and reuse for your current and future writing projects, so that all of your character information is right at your fingertips at all times. Thank you for checking out my course enroll and I'll see you inside. 2. Welcome!: Hi, I'm Lisa Mining, and in this workshop, I'm going to show you how to create and use character profile templates, which can be easily referenced while you're writing your story. This is in the lecture course that you just watch through to benefit the most. From this writing with Scrivener Workshop, it is important to apply it to a current riel writing project. As you follow along in the course, I would encourage you to do all of the assignments given in the course and submit them for review by your fellow classmates and me. Your first assignment is to introduce yourself well. Let us know if you have a work in progress or if you're planning on starting a completely new project. Also, what version of scrivener are you using? If you're a scrivener for Windows user, why not try the beta version of Scrivener three for Windows? The link to the download page is in the about this class section. I'm looking forward to seeing your character profiles, so let's get started 3. UPDATED: Set up the Templates Folder: I could give you a project template with everything already set up for you, but you'll learn a lot more about scrivener by creating the template yourself. So we're going to start from the beginning with a blank scrivener project file. Name it the working title of your writing project. I'm going to be writing a book right along with you in this and subsequent classes, and the working title of my book is Time in a Bottle. If you don't have any title at all yet, just name it working title. You can always change the name at any time. The blank template has three default binder items that are always included in a scrivener project. The manuscript or draft folder, the research folder and the trash Can. The novel template included with Scrivener, has a document template called Character Sketch. This is a static page with all of the information about your character on one page. This is something you could do with any word processing program. But Scrivener isn't a word processing program. It is a powerful writing management program, and for any programmers out there, I've also heard it described as an I. D. E. An integrated development environment, which is a comprehensive set of tools in a single product. Just creating static worksheets is like using a state of the art jet plane to taxi people from one end of the airport to another, going 35 miles an hour and never leaving the ground. Why would you do that? The document template and scrivener is also much more than just a document format or worksheet. A single template can have multiple folders and documents, files with associated labels, status stamps, keywords and meta data. The first step is to set up a templates folder under the research tab, create a folder called Templates. Now Scrivener needs to know that this is the templates folder. To do this, go to project and project settings. You will find yourself going to the project settings quite often, so you may want to add the settings button to your toolbar. It is what I use The most. Project Settings is a great new feature in Scrivener three. There are various tools scattered throughout the menus that effect described her project, so these have been combined into one place. Everything included. Their Onley affects the current project and also overrides the global settings that affect all scrivener projects. On the left hand column, click on the Special Folders tab and then click on the arrow of the drop down list, which will show you any folders located under the research folder, including the templates folder you just created in the project Settings. Select the Templates folder. You'll see now that the icon for the folder has changed to a T, indicating that it has been set up as the Templates folder. 4. UPDATED: Create the Character Template: Now we're ready to create the character document template under the Templates folder, create a new folder called Character Template. And even though we're not going to cover settings in this workshop, you can go ahead and create another folder called Settings Template, so you can see that you can add as many individual templates under the templates folder that you need. Once we have a name template, we can add short character basic data that we might need to quickly reference things like name meaning, hair and eye color, heightened wait, birthday in age parents names, names of their siblings, their hometown, their pet names and favorite color and so forth. If you can think of any others, go ahead and add them. I've also included a character dossier list in the downloads that includes additional information you might want to use. Now we're gonna add additional important information regarding your character. You may not know what the actual content will be for some of these, but they will be covered in detail in the next character workshop because this course is primarily focused on the character template itself. The 1st 1 is personality type. Some of the popular personality typing methods are Myers, Briggs Kersee and any a gram. Create one document file for the specific type and then a 2nd 1 with a basic summary of that type. You don't need to be an expert on personality typing. A great way to come up with a summary of a specific type is to search for it in Pinterest, for example, if you search for the Myers Briggs I N. F. P, it will bring up a lot of Pinterest spins that will give you information regarding this type some from i N f. P is themselves. The summary for the type doesn't have to be all that long. Focus in on three or four defining traits of the character type that will be important to your story. Next is character functions. The functions that are most familiar are the protagonist, the antagonised or villain and the love interest. But there are more character functions that can be added to round out your story. The protagonist or hero of your story is at the center of the character solar system, the love interest and the antagonist round out the main characters of your story. But there are also supporting characters, thematic characters and characters that add dimension. Next is character, motivation and conflict outer motivation, which is what the character wants to accomplish in this story an outer conflict, which is the forces of antagonism that air standing in the way or pushing back. Then there's inner motivation, which is an inner need. The reason why the character wants to accomplish this outer goal inner conflict is what aspect of the character is preventing that character from being able to meet the character's inner need. Next is the character type. There are three character types, flat characters, simple characters and complex characters. The flat character could be a ticket taker, a waitress, a cashier, etcetera. They aren't given a name and are barely referenced. Simple characters have a dominant character trait and a complimentary character trait. The simple characters work well for more plot driven type stories that focus on the outer motivation in conflict. In addition to these traits, complex characters have a contradictory character trait and sometimes even an optional complementary, secondary, contradictory character trait. These work well for more character driven type stories where the inner motivation and inner conflict are more in focus. Next is the character transformational arc. In most cases, the protectiveness changes in some way. Throughout the story. There's a beginning position, a middle position and a final ending position, which could be anything from a balanced, moderate position to an extreme or opposite position. This is directly related to the character's inner conflict, which needs to be resolved to satisfy his inner needs and outer goals. There are exceptions where the character doesn't change it all, but everything in his world around him changes in some way due to his influence. Then, finally, there's backstory. Backstory is anything that has happened in their past that will come to bear on the story in some way. The back story can be further divided up into categories. Romantic relationships, family relationships, education, work, history, medical history and life. Emotional trauma. If you can think of any other categories, go ahead and add them to your template. 5. UPADATED: Change or Customize Binder Icons: Although changing the binder icons is optional, it does make the template feel more complete. And it provides a visual clue as to the content of the file or folder to change a Nikon right click on the folder or file of the current icon and choose change icon from the contextual menu. Even with all of the ones available, it's sometimes difficult to find one that is appropriate, but you can usually find one that works for you, even though it might not make getting sense to someone else. However, you can create your own icons in two main ways. The first is to create an icon from any text character such as letters, numbers and symbols. To do this right click on the folder or file of the current icon, go to change icon, icon from text and enter any character number or symbol from your keyboard. Or choose any character from the character viewer and drag it to the Bucks. Provided there is a huge selection of choices in the left hand column. There are various groups such as emojis, pictographs and bullets or stars with emoji selected in the next column. There are a number of groups also, such as animals in nature, food and drink objects and symbols. You can add these two favorites, but it really isn't necessary because once you have created the icon, it will be available in Scribner's Change icon list in a new section called text based Icons. The second way is to create an icon from any image file you have on your computer by going to manage custom icons to add a Nikon click on the plus symbol of the lower icons on computer section and choose any image files such as JPEG, PNG and so forth. Once it is uploaded, you can double click on it to rename it. Otherwise, it will just use the actual file name. If it Any time you want to change any custom icon back to the default icon, right click and go to reset Icon to default. Now let's change and customize the binder icons for our character Document template First will change the main icon for the character template, and while we're at it will change the settings icon, too. Scripture comes with character icons, and the character mast seems the most appropriate for the settings template. The map with a pin in. It should work great. The first information is just basic Data will use the character sketch icon for these files and also any other basic data files. All of them can be changed at the same time by selecting them, then right, click and choose the character sheet icon for personality type. I haven't icon that I use for my website on writing personality types, so I created it by using the second method shown earlier by uploading it through the icon manager, you could use an emoji or a symbol from the character viewer to create an icon for type will use the character sheet icon that we use for all basic data. Then, for the character type Summary will use a little notebook. You can pick whatever color you would like for character functions. I'm not really sure why, but the little test tube seems to work well. I guess it's because each test tube could have a different formula with a specific purpose or function. You can use something else if you would like. Next is the character motivation in conflict. The Yin Yang symbol is good because it represents opposites for the outer motivation. I'll use the speech bubble and for the outer conflict, I'll use the warning icon for Inter Motivation. I'll use the thought bubble and for inner conflict again, I'll use the warning icon. The statistics icon works good for the character type because it indicates three different levels for the character. Transformational Arc. I think I'll use the graph icon that could show the character growth from beginning to end . Then, for the beginning position, I'll use a front matter icon and for the end, Ah, back matter. I come for the middle of this. Use a yellow book. You could make it whatever color you want. And finally, the back story. I'll use a composition book for it. I'll use it also for the individual topics, but you could choose a different color book for each one before going on to the next tutorial. Be sure to complete your character template, including the binder icons, so that you are ready to use your template 6. UPDATED: Use the Character Template: to use your newly created character template. First, create a character folder under the draft folder. Change the icon to the mask icon that you're using for the character template. Now go to the plus button and click on the arrow. Choose the character template. A new file exactly duplicating your character template will be made under the character folder. Change the folder name to the name of one of your characters. Another way to use the template is to go to project and new from template, using either method. Create a character file for each of your characters, giving them a name. Or if you haven't decided on names yet, you can just use their function names such as protagonists, villain and love interest. Now move all of your character profiles into the character folder. If you need more basic data files, click on the character name and go to the plus button. Click on the arrow, and then, instead of clicking on the full character template, Hubbard the cursor over the character template and choose one of the data files. It will be added to the data file list, then rename it to whatever data type it will be used for next. Fill out the character information. I'll fill out a few more things that I know. I'll replace function with the function of this character, and in my case it is a protagonist, and I know that he is a complex character, so I'll replace character type with it before you go on to the next video, please enter whatever information you already have for your character. I'm also going to enter what I have so far on my characters, including backstory before the next videos, so that will be ready to add labels, keywords and metadata. 7. UPDATED: Create, Assign and Show Labels: The first tool for working with character templates is the labels feature. This provides a very visual way of comparing and contrasting characters in character traits . To add labels to your characters, click on the Project Settings icon in the toolbar and select the label list. Remove the default labels by using the minus fumble to add a label click on the plus symbol . We're going to add a label with the color that indicates the characters function in this case, the protagonist. The label will be added to that character template and can be shown on the index card in the binder and in the outline er mode. Choose distinct and strong colors like primary and secondary colors. Red, yellow, blue, green, orange and violet. The same color that is used for the label will also be used later. For the keyword associated with that character, you can name the label by the character function, such as protagonist, or it can be the actual character's name. I'm going to choose yellow for this label. Go ahead and create a label for each of your characters. You can leave the title of the group of labels as labels or you can name the list something like functions or function labels. Next, the labels need to be added to the appropriate character used the expand, all buttons so that you can see all of the contents in the binder. You can also use the shortcut command nine to expand all and command zero to collapse. All highlight all of the files and folders for the first character, then right click. This will bring up the contextual menu. If you didn't rename the label list, go to labels and picks the appropriate label. If you have renamed the title of your label list, that title will show here instead of just the word label. Do this for all of your characters. Then when you're done, use the collapse button and open just the characters folder again. Next, we need to enable the label colors to be shown in the Binder Index cards and out liner Rose . This is all done in the View menu for the binder. Go to view and use label color in. If you have given your label list of name, it will say the name of your list instead of labels choose to use in the binder. The index cards and the outline rose. The color in the binder defaults to a colored circle, but if you would like it to be the background color in the binder, choose show as background color in Binder. This is what I prefer, so I'll select it. Next. Select all of your characters, and it will show you all of your characters information in columns next to each other. To adjust the size of the cards, go to the lower right hand corner and click on the icon that shows four index cards. Adjust the card size so that you can see them all at once. This could come in handy to compare all of your characters and make sure you don't have names that sound too much alike, or that you have a bunch of characters with similar descriptions, such as brown hair and green eyes. 8. UPDATED: Adding Keywords: Now we're going to add keywords to create keywords. Click on the keywords button that has an image of a key on it. Click on the plus button to create a new key word type in the name of your first character or the function name. Be sure to use the same color keyword per character as you did for the labels. Now add all of the rest to help with organization, especially in the future when you add keywords for other purposes, create a container folder called Characters. The move. All of the character keywords into it and change the color to white. We've created the keywords. Now we need to connect them to the corresponding character templates. First click on the key word icon in the Inspector so that you can see the keywords as you add them. Click on the character template in the binder and choose the corresponding keyword from the keyword panel. Drag it to the keywords section in the Inspector. Now we'll do the same for the rest. Then finally, to be able to view the keyword color chips on the index cards, go to view court board options and show keyword colors 9. Using Keywords Demo: in later courses will be using keywords for a number of tests. But just so you can get a night idea of how keywords can be used, I've created a little demo. One way to use keywords is to track what characters are in a particular scene. To do this, I've created some sample seen index cards When planning your scenes. One of the things you may want to follow is what characters are in, what scenes and how many characters altogether are in the scene. This can indicate issues where you have not put your main character into enough scenes or you've had a minor character in too many scenes and so forth. So when you create a scene, you can attach the keywords for the characters that will be in the scene. First, opened the keywords panel and move it right next to the keywords section in The Inspector Foreseen one. There are two characters in the scene, their tastes, and Raina dragged the appropriate keywords to the inspector for Seen two. There are three characters, Tase, Raina and Marshall. I'm sure you get the idea, so I'll fill in the rest as before, choose view corkboard options and show keyword colors. Now you can see the keyword chips of the characters in the scene. And then when you click on the scene, it shows which characters are in the scene in the inspector, and you can see how many characters air in a scene by the key chips. And if you use the same ones all the time, then you'll know which color is connected with which character. The size of the keyword chips can be changed by going to the index card button and choosing how many keyword chips to show on an index card. The more you want to show, the smaller the keyword chips will be, and the fewer you want to show, the larger they'll be. Another useful thing you could do with keywords is to search by keyword. Used the key word button to open the keyword panel. I'm gonna move it over to the binders so that you can see it better. Choose the key word you want to search for. Now, go down to the bottom right hand corner and choose the search button. In the binder. You'll see everything in the project that has the key word for the one you have chosen 10. Reference Character Info using Bookmarks in the Inspector: In my opinion, the new bookmark feature in Scrivener three is the most important and useful new feature to have ever come out in a scrivener upgrade, and it will become very helpful for referencing character information while writing your story. Bookmarks are similar to the original document references. Unlike document references, when you click on the bookmarked link in the Inspector, it will show you the content without having to go outside of the current Scrivener project . To create a bookmark click on the bookmark icon in the Inspector, you can choose from two different types of bookmarks. Document bookmarks, which are only available to a particular document file and will only be visible in the inspector under the document, Bookmarks and the project bookmarks, which are available, project wide and can be referenced in the Inspector. The bookmarks panel and the Bookmark column of the quick reference panel. Bookmarks in the Inspector and quick reference panels show you the content of the bookmark but don't affect the content in the editor. But the bookmarks panel works a little bit different. It will change the content of the editor if it is a link to a file or a file folder within the current project. But if it is an outside file or a u. R L, it won't change anything. Also, there are two different kinds of links. Internal links, which are any file or folder in the current project file. And there are external links to anything other than scrivener project files such as You RL's of particular website pages, which is simply drag into the inspector links to files on your computer like Word, Excel or PowerPoint files. Adobe Files, MP three or MP four files. Scalpel files are any other types of files. And finally, something really helpful links to other scrivener projects or specific scrivener files or folders within another scrivener project. We're going to use project bookmarks specifically for referencing character information. Since we wanted available throughout the project, simply select and drag all of your character profiles from the binder over to the project bookmarks. Now you can easily reference any piece of information that you need quickly. When you select the desired item, it will be displayed. Blow it 11. Use Quick Reference Panels to Reference Character Information: using the project. Bookmarks in the binder is great for when you were writing in the Editor. But what if you want a reference character information while in composed mode, the best place to use the project bookmarks is in the quick reference panel. You can open a quick reference panel in one of four ways in the Inspector by double clicking on a character's name. If you have the bookmarks panel open, you can also double click on a character name. If you have the bookmark panel disconnected, click on the open, quick reference panel icon and the Fourth Way is to click on the quick reference panel toolbar button. If the bookmark column isn't there, click on the bookmark icon. When you click anywhere other than the quick reference panel, it will disappear. But it didn't close. It just went behind the main scrivener window to keep the quick reference panel always on top, go to windows and float quick reference panels. Once it is open, go into composed mode and you will still have access to it if you go into composed mode without the quick reference panel open. Once you are in composed mode, you can open the inspector and then double click on one of the project bookmarks, and the quick reference panel will be opened. Now you can reference any character information while writing in Composed. 12. Wrap up: This has been part one of the character workshop. I will do my best to publish each part in 7 to 10 days. I can't promise an exact date, but I'll keep you informed. In the meantime, complete the assignment so that you were ready to do the next part when the second workshop is ready. Your project for this class is to develop all of your characters as well as possible. You will be adding to it and making revisions as you continue on with the workshops and write your story. Thanks for taking this workshop and I hope to see you in the next one.