Before we begin, practice healthy creative habits: Clear your space of clutter, set aside some time to focus and spend 2-3 minutes doing your Daily Free Writing before you begin. See Lesson 2 for more about DFW.

How Long Is Your Book?

If you’ve never written a book, this might feel like a daunting number to come up with. Here are some tips:

– Look up similar books on Amazon and under product details you can see the number of pages:


– Multiple the number of pages by 250 to get the number of words.

How long are the other books in your genre typically? How many words? How many pages?

– Alternatively look at the number chapters in those books.

How many chapters are there? Do they break the book into units? Sections? Parts?

It might seem arbitrary, but having a rough idea of the length of you book will help you determine how many chapters you should plan on writing. When in doubt, start small.

-That 288 page book above is 72,000 words.
-If each chapter is 3,000 words, then it’s 24 chapters.
-If you think of your book in three major sections (Beginning, Middle and End) that’s just 8 chapters each.

First Pass

Today we’re going to go through our outline notes and begin breaking out cards into individual chapters. In Scrivener, we’ve been working in a separate folder called “Outline”, but today go straight to “Manuscript”:



If you right click on manuscript you can select “create” new folder.


You can break up your book however it makes sense, but if you’re unsure, I find using three sections to be sufficient. Create three folders: Beginning, Middle and End (or name them as you’d like).

Within each folder create 8 new text cards. One for each chapter. Simply label them with the Chapter number. If you click on manuscript and change your view to outline (View >> Outline) it should look like this:


(Side note: if you have chapter cards already completed you can simply drag them over from your outline folder.)

From here, you can begin placing the pieces you’ve already identified. For the chapters you have relatively well fleshed out, this will be easy, but if there are spots where you don’t know, sometimes it helps to just put placeholder text for what JOB that chapter has to do. How does it move the story forward? What is accomplished? What’s the main takeaway? For example, if I was very unclear on the beginning of my book I could just block out the main story elements with just a few words to remind me what that chapter will be doing.


I would still have lots of work to do on this section, but I’ve accomplished two things: gotten rid of BLANK PAGES (which feels daunting) and made my task much smaller. I don’t have to think of everything, I just have to think, “In Chapter 7 where would she go? What would happen when she gets there?” We start SHIFTING from the abstract high level concepts of our book down to the working details, which can be solved, one by one, bit by bit.

Sharing Your Outline

In Outline View (like above) in Scrivener you can highlight and copy – and then paste. It formats nicely:

Chapter 1


Chapter 2

The Big Question. Everything was great until it was not, now she has to decide.

Chapter 3

More hijinks?

Chapter 4

Her first attempt to solve it.

Chapter 5


Chapter 6

She flees.

Chapter 7

Everything gets worse.

Chapter 8

Now it’s really bad, there’s only one choice…


1Daily Free Writing
2Determine the length of your book
3Consider the number of chapters that will be
4Create the structure in Scrivener
5Begin adding rough notes to each chapter