Scrivener Template

Scrivener is software that allows you to easily organise a large writing project, so that you can easily switch between scenes, arrange scenes into chapters, store your research, sort, categorise, and search.  Then when you’re ready, you hit a button and it spits out a formatted manuscript or e-book.  It has some neat features, like a full-screen clutter-free writing space, a random name generator, target wordcounts, and ‘snapshots’, which allow you to roll back and compare previous versions of scenes.  You can get a free 30 day trial from their website and the cost of purchase is pretty low.

The one thing Scrivener doesn’t do is help you get started or coach you through structuring a story.

So I have designed myself a Scrivener template for outlining, filled with worksheets and noted up with explanations and examples to help me develop a story from embryonic idea to detailed outline / rough first draft.

It covers:

  • developing a story concept, with sources of inspiration and writing prompts


  • step-by-step process for turning that concept into a three-act structure




  • fleshing out your 3 Act structure with twists and subplots
  • character worksheets for developing a character that harmonises with your plot
  • nifty tools for developing a range of realistic characters
  • places to just write, and to store scene fragments
  • worksheets for developing themes into your fiction

In case this is useful to other people, I am posting it here.  All I ask is that if you post it on your website, put a link back here.  Also, I would love any feedback, because it’s a work in progress and I hope to develop it further.

Update 23/9/13: version 2 is here, with a nicer look and feel and some cool new worksheets and templates!

The look and feel is a bit more modern and hopefully easier to work with:

Climax example

There are new worksheets, in particular ones on:

  • Subplots – in the 3 Act Structure folder
  • Scene Planner template – for mapping your dramatic beats, setting, character notes, and background info
  • Main Character template – a new improved version of the main character sheets, but as a template so you can create one for each main character.  The folder is better organised and there are worksheets for developing antagonists, and for developing character voice.

There are more explanations, more tips, and the beginnings of a glossary.  Writing advice has been collected in a handy writing advice folder with subcategories for storing your own advice.

Click here to download Caro’s Outliner Template v 2.0 via Dropbox:

Instructions for opening these files:

1. If you downloaded the .scriv file, save a copy and then double click to open in Scrivener.

2. If you downloaded the .scrivtemplate file, you will need to import the template into Scrivener.  Do this by opening the Scrivener program and then in that first window that displays choose ‘Options’ and then ‘Import Template’.

3. If you have downloaded the .zip file you will need to unzip first if your computer doesn’t do it automatically.

I am told it works on both mac and windows.  If you still have trouble after following these instructions, please leave me a comment explaining the problem and I will try and help.

I will add more templates here as I collect them.  In the meantime, there are a few for novel writing at

Related articles

84 Responses to Scrivener Template

  1. Pingback: Scrivener Novel Planning Crazy Uber-Template | Caroline Norrington

  2. Pingback: Scrivener template for story outlining | Everything Scrivener

  3. I am anxious to see your template, but I cannot open it after downloading. I’ve attempted to open with Text Edit and Word. Suggestions? Thanks.

  4. Its the file ending. You need to save it as .scrivtemplate and NOT .scrivx (and . . . attempting to open this in Scrivener will result in VERY, VERY bad things happening to the particular folder (such as, Templates) being changed into a project that cannot be opened if you blindly click yes on the dialog window offering to save it in a different format. Please check your manual on the proper file format to save for Scrivener 2.0 users. Even if one changes the extension to .scriv, it is an older format that is NO LONGER recognized by Scrivener 2.0 Thanks!

  5. Sorry for my rather snippy comment. I figured that I could retrieve my templates from the borked folder/project by going to Open Package Contents, so, apologies. The file extension issue still needs to be dealt with, though.

  6. Also, my suggestion would be to zip it up and put that .zipped file in the dropbox – somehow downloading it either directly or “save as” on Mac seems to mess up the file.

    • I think I have fixed the problem. Can you try to download again and let me know?

      • Okay . . . for some reason, the .scrivtemplate gets saved as plain text (even after I took out the “.txt” part that was automatically tacked on by the download process) and I can’t import it. But I was able to download the .zip file, unzip it and save as project. I would suggest that you zip the .scrivtemplate so that the download process doesn’t somehow mess it up. Thanks!

  7. Okay . . . I’m now starting to go through your scriv file. WOW! This is going to be really useful! I’m going to be writing some fan fiction, and this should hopefully help me learn how to structure my first story. I have a basic plotline tumbling around in my head but I do know I need to bring it out and not have it end up so messy.

  8. OK, Caroline, I was able to quickly open up your fantastic Outliner file and am eagerly anticipating going through it. I can tell right away, though, that I will be using it for the start of my next writing project–sometime this fall. Thanks for sharing and it is obvious that much hard work went into this! Please stay in touch. Have a great day!

  9. OS X users, the solution to getting .scrivtemplate to be imported successfully is NOT to download it using Safari, but rather using Chrome or Firefox.

  10. AM Gray says:

    I imported it as a template and that fixed it. I have Windows Scrivener too. It is an awesome template by the way! And FULL of info. *runs off to investigate further*

  11. Pingback: Nightspore » Excellent Scrivener template to help start that novel

  12. Pingback: Scrivener Template v2.0 is here! | Caroline Norrington

  13. Thank you so much for the new version!

  14. Brad Swift says:

    Thanks for all you hard work on this template. Could you tell me the difference in the two files — .scriv file versus scrivtemplate file?

    • One loads as a Scrivener file, the other (the Template) should load as an option you can select for a new project when Scrivener starts. You can convert the file to a Template in Scrivener by opening it and then choosing to save it as a Template.

  15. Ric Gerace says:

    Looks neat. Does it work with the current Windows version of Scrivener?

  16. I cannot figure out how to open the file.

    • If you downloaded the template, have you tried importing it? In the initial screen when Scrivener opens there is a drop down ‘options’ menu and you can choose to import a template.

      If you downloaded the file, try saving a copy?

      I have no idea with this technical support stuff, but I have posted a question on the Scrivener forums and am hoping someone there tells me what to tell you guys 🙂

      • Update: Okay I saved a copy and managed to get the template to open but there’s no actual content in any of the sections. No tips, explanations, worksheets, or anything. Weird! I’ll continue poking it and see if I can make some more headway. It looks pretty good from what I can see of it so far. Hoping I can get it working.

    • I have updated the available links on this page Ethan. You can now also download a .zip file with both files in it. Maybe one of those will work.

  17. Julie Michutka says:

    Where is the zipped file? I downloaded the .scrivtemplate (using Firefox) and couldn’t get it to open. Thx!

    • It wasn’t saved as a zipped file. If you’re using a Mac, you need to make sure there wasn’t a file extension appended after “.scrivtemplate”. Go into Finder and select the file, then Command-I. Look in the Name & Extension section and make sure there wasn’t an appended extension – delete anything after “scrivtemplate”. You should then be able to use Options, Import (at lower left corner when you create a new project).

      • Julie Michutka says:

        Thank you–this appears to have done the trick. I was trying to import via File>Import, and that didn’t seem to work. Using the Options>Import from the place you described did.

  18. Thoroughly enjoyed this template – I am currently writing a TV series and a play – it really came very handy! Especially since I have been using scrivener for a few years now. Many thanks for sharing!
    Albert (Vienna-Austria)

  19. Pingback: Scrivener Template from Caroline Norrington |

  20. Kris S. says:

    I cannot get it to open. Granted I’m completely new to Scrivener and am still learning the system. What is the step by step of how to open it? I have Windows and use Firefox. I’ve also tried Dropbox. I can’t seem to get the template to open; it shows up blank in Scrivener if I choose to open the Template file. Thank you!

  21. yohualli7 says:

    All those ideas I have for my new story have been jumping around and running inside my mind like an untamed beast, but hopefully I’ll be able to organize them all with the help of your template. Thank you very much for all the effort you put into creating this Scrivener template, Caroline. God bless you ^^

  22. Pingback: this is a mess (of stuff) |

  23. Lynnea M. says:

    Thank you so much! I could hug you. It is so very kind of you to share your hard work with us. This is going to be immensely useful. I have no doubt of that. Thank you again. Thank you so much.

  24. kanundra says:

    Trying it out…. thanks so much : )

  25. Pingback: Writing: What, Where, How, When, and Why | Burgess Taylor

  26. Wow, this is the most detailed outliner/template I’ve seen. I’m going to try to adapt parts of it to writing novellas, which is what I plan to do for NaNoWriMo this year (write 3 novellas, each 20K words). You did a great job on this! Thanks for sharing it. BTW, the zip file worked perfectly – I just save it as a template and now it is an option whenever I create a new project. 🙂

  27. Jason Heath says:

    You are my new favorite Aussie! Thanks for creating this and sharing. I’m full steam ahead, and linked to you from my humble little blog.

  28. Deborah Rich says:

    This is a wonderful outlining template! The trick to downloading the template on a mac is to simply delete the .txt extension on the file, leaving Caro’s Novel Outliner v 2.scrivtemplate. Then you can import it.

  29. Faith says:

    Much thanks Caroline for this – luv the 31 Day Method – since I have been looking for a template to use as a foundation to create my own monthly writing template. And the writing outline is great too!

    And much thanks to Nick Daws for referring me to you. I shared this page with my FB writer’s support group!

    I just got Scrivener via my NanoWrimo 2013 Win – hooray!

    Thanks and keep up the great job!


  30. Pingback: Scrivener's Binder, Part II | Simply Scrivener

  31. Bertrand says:

    Thank you so much for your template, Caroline.
    Bonjour from Grenoble, France.

  32. Pingback: A New Year! | This IS My Job

  33. Pingback: Scrivener Template | Everything Scrivener

  34. peterchik says:

    I bought Scrivener 3 years ago but struggled to grapple with the software, so gave up easily.
    This year I got some new hardware and upgraded Scrivener. After a bit of research on the Internet I found your fantastically well documented template which is enormously helpful for my limited knowledge of ePub publishing. Thank you for your generous sharing.

  35. Betsy says:

    Wow, I thought mine was pretty good…but yours…much, much better

  36. All righty – after much searching, playing with mind maps and trying out (very expensive if I bought them) software for outlining I finally stumbled over this. Eureka! I’m about to start plugging my fantasy in (currently in notebook form – a notebook I’ve had around for about fifteen years lol) and am optimistic this will be a huge help in keeping everyone straight. So many characters, so many plot layers – already love Scrivener, so am going to see how this works. Had no problems using the template format. Onward!

  37. Pingback: Free Scrivener Templates Part 2 - Justin Swapp

  38. Cliff says:

    Hi 🙂 Thanks for this, just bought Scrivener (Did try it for a bit). Just dowloaded your template – and will install now. Quick question … this an outlining template – So can I also actually write elements of the story or is is SOLELY for outlining? Notice you say it’s designed for taking that “embryonic idea to detailed outline / rough first draft.” – So it seems that it can be used to write through to the first draft!

    Sorry if it’s a crazy question – so much to learn, so short on time, and already seemed to mess up Scrivener with one downloaded template. Thank you again for providing this!

    • Hi Cliff,

      Yes, I suggest uses the Scenes section for your actual draft, but Scrivener’s very flexible so it would be easy for you to add places to put your first draft.


      • Cliff says:

        Oh thank you, Caroline, for your response! Will post a followup as I get to know your template. Also hoping to spend some time reading etc, on your lovely site!

  39. Cliff says:

    Ok been “playing” with this template and going through the tips and details etc. Caroline, this is a fantastic template! So wonderfully put together with such great information! Evident that a significant amount of time and excellent thought went in to the creation of this template – Again, thank you very much!

  40. Bill Hoover says:

    Dear Caroline—This template addition is exciting, but I only just downloaded the Trial Scrivener onto Windows 8.1 (mouse version) & am bleary eyed, hard contacts are dry and eyes raw from dry Rocky Mountain summer night…and I struggle with ADD. Please send me an email with link to this project. I’ve just dropped Chrome for another try at Firefox, but Scrivener is all about Windows Explorer and I’ve barely arranged FF as to booksmarks/saved pages and don’t trust them yet.

    Sorry to be needy, I just really think your template(s?) will help, once I’ve at least gotten through the Scrivener Tutorial—but I’ve GOT to get these contacts out (forced to wear hard lenses as prosthetics), I’m very glad for what I think you’ve done—heads spinning though. I’ll follow when I can see again. Bill, Evergreen Colorado @7500 ft.

  41. esnow says:

    Hi there,

    This is an amazing template! I’ve downloaded it and it opens up as a separate Scrivener project. How do I move it into my current project? Thanks!

  42. Pingback: Great Scrivener Template for Novel Writing | Divaluscious

  43. Pingback: Pantser to Planner – Who Me? | Write in Plain Sight

  44. BINGO!! This is amazing!! EXACTLY what I was looking for–yet even better than I had imagined. Thank you SO much for taking the time to create this! 🙂

  45. Your style is unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from.
    Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this web site.

  46. Gabi says:

    Hi, it is my first visit to your blog and I liked it very much! 🙂

    Your template looks amazing and it would be very helpful to me, but when I try to download it I get a dropbox error and cannot download the file. Can you please help me with that?

    Thank you.

  47. Wanted to chime in and say how much I love your template!! Thanks for sharing all your hard work. 🙂

  48. Cliff says:

    @ Gabby … Were you able to get a copy of Caroline’s fantastic template? If not, shoot me a line as I may be able to help you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s