2 major re-organizations. Same book.

A few days ago I got my husband a new game (Age of Empires III) because, as I informed him when I handed it over as a surprise, I intend to neglect him.

When I got Scrivener a couple of months ago, I began dragging all my bits-in-search-of-a-structure into it, the web pages got archived, the scribbled notes got typed in, and all my old drafts got imported. But everytime I would “start” the project, it would seem to go well, then bog down, and I would wind up with yet another 1,200 words that I was happy enough with, but didn’t seem to be gelling into an actual book.

The more I played with it, the more I really liked the Outliner. Customizing the tool bar kickstarted me into using features I hadn’t tried yet, and putting the Convert, Expand All & Collapse All, and Move Left & Right buttons onto the tool bar made the Outliner, and the Outline features of the Binder, into something that was a pleasure for me to use. Maybe because they are traditional commands I was used to on previous outliners, or maybe I’m just clumsy at dragging things in the Binder. (I can’t seem to drag a same-level document under another document to become its child. Move Right does it every time.)

I started making folders for themes that had emerged from the drafts, and grabbed all the pertinent sections to put into their folders, Appending and Dragging to the Binder like mad. Now it looked more like something. I spent a whole evening plugging the gaps with index cards, and it was looking more coherent, certainly more comprehensive… but it still wasn’t a book.

So what was the best way to present this information, starting from least complicated to most complicated? In this case, I decided on a chronological approach, so I made a little outline (in Project Notes) that reflected how this would happen. (You can tab in Project Notes. It looks nice.)

So the next day I took all my previous work and tucked it into a different folder, clearing out the draft folder, and made a bunch more index cards and folders to correspond to my new outline. And I have plenty of words to re-distribute among this new structure.

Offered in the hope that it might help someone else; do your theme, then work out your narrative. Flipping it back and forth brought out all the holes.

I think I could have done it without Scrivener, but it certainly wouldn’t have been done in one weekend!

And not nearly as much fun.

This made me smile, werebear! :slight_smile: I’ve been doing exactly the same as you. Unlike you, though, I haven’t yet found my way through all the scraps of stuff that may (or may not) be worth keeping. I keep hoping that the publication of “fragments” (as in early Romanticism) may come back into vogue! :slight_smile:

I’ll have to give your method a shot, and see if I can make any sense out this ragbag of irrelevancies.

I would be very happy if it is of help.

I was just reading Thunderstruck by Erik Larson, wherein he apologized for all the Notes and Footnotes. He doesn’t have to apologize to me! I love that stuff. But he was working from certain subjects that helped him prune it down about what to include in the book itself.

In any work, non-fiction or fiction, there is a narrative. That’s what makes it a work that is a pleasure to follow along with. In my instance, I was trying to do something different than other books on the same subject. What Scrivener helped me realize is that the content may differ in its substance, but the old reliable chronological structure is one that would work for me.

It’s a big help to find your key scene that exemplifies all the themes of the work. In Gone With the Wind, despite all its inaccuracies and prejudices, the key scene is very memorable; Scarlett O’Hara in the ruins of the garden, vowing that as God is her witness, she’ll never be hungry again. The book was about the drive to survive in a changed world, and her own determination. And that scene covered it all.

In this case the key scene comes in the middle. In my current book, it comes at the beginning, a point of reference that my new outlook is going to build on. Or it can come at the end, to sum up the narrative.

Having a key scene is like suspending a string in a saturated sugar solution. There’s something to crystalize around. And, then almost without effort, it does.