Writing with Scrivener: Create an Inspiring Writing Environment in Compose Mode | Leisa Eining | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

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

teacher avatar Leisa Eining, Writer & Scrivener Enthusiast

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

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

11 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Writing with Scrivener

    • 2. Where to find Preferences in Your Scrivener Version

    • 3. Entering Compose Mode

    • 4. Customizing Compose Mode Colors

    • 5. Background Images--Textures

    • 6. Background Images--Photos

    • 7. Custom-Sizing Photos

    • 8. Seasonal & Holiday Compose Mode Themes

    • 9. Virtual Stationery

    • 10. Project-Specific Background Image

    • 11. Wrap up & Thank You

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class


Scrivener created Compose Mode as a "Distraction Free" writing area, but the default setup is not very inspiring.  Scrivener 3's default is all dark background with pale white type for the purpose of reducing eye strain, but all it does is make it very unappealing, especially for creative types.  

Happily, ALL versions of Scrivener [Scrivener 2 & 3 for Mac and Scrivener for Windows] have options to change the screen background, the editor page background and the fonts to just about anything you want.

In this course, I'll show you the various ways to set up your writing environment which works the best for you.  You can use colors, textures and any other image in any combination.  Be sure to download the appropriate cheat sheet for your version to see where to go to change the Appearance preferences.

Other Courses by Leisa Eining

NEW! Writing with Scrivener: Character Workshop #1 -- Create a Character Template

Scrivener 3: New Feature Using Scrivener Projects in Tabs

Scrivener 3: A-Z for Windows and Mac

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

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. 

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Writing with Scrivener: Hi, I'm Lisa Mining, and in this class, I'm going to show you how to create an inspiring writing environment in Scrivener is composed mode. Although the actual examples air done with Scripture three for Max, the same things can be done in all versions of scrivener, including the Windows version. The first tutorial will show where to find the preferences for each version. Also, you can download the cheat sheets provided for reference throughout the course of the project for the course will be to Smith, a screenshot of your own inspiring, composed won't set up. I'm looking forward to see what you come up with, so let's get started. 2. Where to find Preferences in Your Scrivener Version: customizing Scrivener two and three for Mac are similar in Scrivener. Three. Go to scrivener preferences, Behaviours and composition mode to modify behaviors or to change the appearance, go to appearance, composition mode and the options tab or colors tab for scrivener to go to Scrivener Preferences Composed icon. Both appearance and behaviors are in the same place, and it has basically all of the same options for Windows Go to tools, options, appearance and full screen. Full screen in Windows is the same as composed mode on Mac. It doesn't have many options for behaviors. 3. Entering Compose Mode: Before you go into compose mode, select the single file you want to work on, or select the groups of files or even the entire manuscript to work on, then click on scribblings mode to verify it is showing the information you want. If you choose a blank file or you don't choose any file at all, when you go into composed mode, you will have a blank page to start with. When you are ready to enter compose mode, you can click on the composed button in the toolbar or Option key, plus Command and F in scrivener. For Windows, it is called full screen editing mode. I'll be referring to it as composed mode from this point on, which will be encompassing full screen editing mode also. 4. Customizing Compose Mode Colors: the default settings for composed mode in Scrivener 3 may reduce eyestrain, but it is also a very boring place to work and does little to inspire. By making the page blue and the type a little whiter, it may make us more mature. Writers feel nostalgic. I used WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS in the early nineties, and it looked a lot like this. This was truly distraction free writing. You didn't even need a mouse. Your hands never left the keyboard, but it still wasn't varying inspiring. There are a number of things you can do to make composed mode better and more inspiring. Go to scrivener preferences, appearance, composition mode and choose the colors tab. There are two backgrounds that you can modify, the editor page background and the screen background that goes behind the editor. We'll start with the editor background. If you are going to use some kind of light background first changed text color to black so it will show up. Or if you're planning on having a dark background, make sure that the text is white. Now click the editor color Ah, cream color actually helps reduce eyestrain. Also, instead of having a stark white background to see your changes in composed mode. It really helps if you have a second screen where you can move the preference window to that way, you can see the changes immediately without having to go back and forth between the main scrivener window and compose mode, and you can do a lot of experimentation. Next, you can choose a pleasant color for the screen background, and if you have a wallpaper that you really like on your computer screen with no icons, you can fade the background and give it a color tint. 5. Background Images--Textures: instead of using just colors, you could also choose a texture for either the editor page background or the screen background or both. We'll start with the editor background. A good place to look for a texture. Background is on picks. Obey or pixels will try pixels first. First will want to search for a texture. This one looks like an interesting background for the page. It's kind of like writing on parchment paper. Click on the image, and it will bring up a download page now hover over the arrow on the right hand side. Scrivener only accepts image files that are under one megabyte, and the original file size here is usually larger than that. The best one to start with is the large size. Okay, this looks good. You can choose a color for the background that goes with the page and fade it to whatever looks good to you. Now let's change the editor page background back to a color and change the screen background to a texture. The texture that we used for the editor page background doesn't look bad, but for screen background, you can have better textures because you don't have to worry about readability. So let's try another background. This one is water. Or maybe this one. The large size was too big, and the medium size you can see that it has tiled, which doesn't look right in this situation. If you really want to use it, you have two choices. You can modify it in a program like photo shop, or, if it is in pixels, you can actually choose a custom size, but non in picks obey. I wish the options for both sides were combined because although pixels lets you choose a custom size picks, Obey shows the exact size of the file, so you don't have to guess. In the next video, we'll go more into detail on how to create a custom size. If you have a screen background and a page background chosen, you will now notice that the Fader bar is gone. In most cases, you're probably not going to want a texture for both the page and a screen background. The better choice would be just to choose a color background for one and a texture for the other. But you're probably ahead of me thinking. Why does the screen background have to be a texture? Why can't it just be any photograph? The answer is that it can 6. Background Images--Photos: Instead of using a screen background color or a texture, you can choose any kind of image. You can use your own photos if you like, but you can also go to pixels or picks obey as we've done before, and search for the type of image you want. We're going to use pixels because of the ability to download a custom size, which is important for certain images. Let's start with an ocean scene as before. The largest image size that Scrivener will accept is anything below one megabyte, and the large format is often the best size. So we'll choose that first, to use the image as before, go to Scrivener preferences, appearance composed mode and then the colors tab. Even though Scrivener accepts this because it is less than a megabyte, the actual dimensions are too big for the screen. You can see that it has removed a lot of the top of the image and of the right hand side of the image. The left side and the bottom start at the actual edges of the image. It would be really convenient if scrivener would let you crop the image to fit your screen exactly, but so far, that is an option. If you like how it looks, so you could just leave it as it is. I would like to see a little more of the top of the image, so we'll try another size. This time I'm going to choose medium. But now the dimensions air too small, and it has tiled the image, So the next step is to create a custom size that is somewhere in between. 7. Custom-Sizing Photos: to download a custom size oven image on pixels. If the large size seems just a little too large, you can reduce the 1920 size by increments of 100 18 2017 2016 20 etcetera. Or, if you've tried the medium size and it is only a little too small, you can increase the size by 100 at 13 80 14 80 etcetera. The dimensions of this image are fairly large, and in the previous video we saw that the medium size was only a little too small. So I'm going to download one at 13 80. Now let's take a look at it in the third view of the finder to make sure that it is under the one megabyte requirement. And it is. So now let's choose it in the compose mode preferences. Good. This one eliminates the tiling and shows a lot more of the photo, but it's still cutting part of the photo off. I think it looks good, so I would probably stop here, But what if you want more of it to show you can reduce it by increments of 10 13 70 13 60 13 50 etcetera. I've done this already and found that the 13 60 was Aske Llosa's possible. Some of the top of the photo is still being cropped, but even going to 13 59 showed just a teeny bit of the right hand side, so that is the best we can do with this photo. 8. Seasonal & Holiday Compose Mode Themes: something I like to do is have a holiday or seasonal background for different times of the year. So let's try a few of them. We can search for autumn and find a good photo. This one works good, because the leaves are to one side, leaving a large area to move the editor. Page two. I've downloaded a large and a medium size once in composed mode. Move the editor page to one side. Earlier, I suggested moving the preferences and color windows to a second screen. If you have one, it works great. But if you only have one screen and you're using a Mac version of Scrivener, you do have access to the preferences directly in composed mode. The first thing you will want to do is change the color of the editor page background to blend with the photo. You can use Theo Eyedropper to match a color from the photo itself. This golden yellow looks nice to me. However, it may be a little dark to write on notice. There is no scroll bar to Morrow. The appearance. I'm using the scrolling wheel on my mouse to scroll through. Remember to change the squalor type in preferences. You go to appearance composition mode and choose the options tab I haven't set to know. Scroll er, let's try another photo. The photo with trees and water works well because you don't have to worry about part of it being cut off by scrivener. I've chosen the parchment texture for the editor background because it blends well with this photo. My favorite holiday images are for Christmas. You know the process now, so I'll just show you several composed mode setups that I have put together with the different holidays. 9. Virtual Stationery: Instead of having a page, background and a screen background, you can make it so that the screen background is the page background you are writing on. Will need an image on Lee to the far right or far left to leave room for the editor page. Here is a good, rosy image. Now move the editor page to the left, change the type to black, then move the Fader bar to 0% capacity. This background kind of reminds me of poetry. Let's change the type style. Do something fancy. This one looks good, but when you actually apply it, it's very difficult to read. Here's another one to try. This is nice, but the type could be larger, though there That's pretty good. I think what would make it even better is to change the color of the font, maybe to a dark pink color. Let's do one more. I found a Christmas image that I really like well, and since it has a solid dark color, changing the text to White should look good and will change the type style to more of a standard fund. Here's some screenshots of several other set ups I have used 10. Project-Specific Background Image: instead of setting a screen background that will be the default for any project you create . You can have a screen background associated with a specific project only so each project will have its own screen background. To do this, access the Project Settings panel by going to project and project settings. Or, if you have the button added to your toolbar, you can click on the settings button. Or you can use the Mac keyboard shortcut option plus command plus comma. Now to choose a background image. Select background images. Choose from disk. It is a good idea to create a folder just for your background images so that they are all in one place and you can find them easily. Now, whenever you use the scrivener project, it will use your selected image no matter what the default background image has been set to in preferences 11. Wrap up & Thank You: The project for this course is to submit a screenshot of your inspiring composed mode. Set up use colors, textures, specific types, styles in any combination, including using the screen background s stationary. Use photos from free sources like pixels and picks. Obey or use your own photo. Or, if you are an artist, create your own screen background. I hope you enjoyed this course. I love questions. So if you have any questions regarding this course in scrivener, please ask me in the community section. If it's something I can answer quickly and easily, I'll answer it in the discussion forum. But if it is something that needs more explanation and maybe some demonstration, I'll create a Q and A video for the class. If your question is something our all encompassing, like how to use the fill in the blank, I'll consider creating a separate course for it. Thanks for watching, and I'm looking forward to seeing your projects, and I hope to see you again in a future course.