•Help Getting Started or Best Organization Techniques?


I just bought Scrivener and have gone through its tutorial. However, I am a novice writer who needs some advice on some early stage use in the program. Specifically, what is the best way to organize the following; creating separate files/folders where you can dump ideas on individual characters and creating a file/folder to place random plot ideas or plot challenges.

I have done this by simply creating a document under the “Research” folder entitled “Plot ideas” and others for characters, but as this grows its getting rather unwieldily! What do you suggest for these early stages? Im sure I am not doing this efficiently and would like to cull bad habits early!

Many thanks,

One of the really nice things about Scrivener is that it is easy to just dump your brain out and then sort things up later. It is trivial to split and merge documents. It is easy to assign meta-data such as labels and keywords to large numbers of documents at once. You can even change your mind on what should be a folder or a document. With the Edit Scrivenings feature, you can feel free to chop things up as small as you want, knowing that you can easily temporarily combine them back together whenever you wish.

So my advice, starting out, would be to just not worry. Unlike many other programs, you don’t need to decide on a schema before you start entering data.

I would say that while you’re figuring it out, try to err on the side of splitting your notes out in more files. As Amber points out, you can easily re-combine them temporarily using Edit Scrivenings.

Also, because splitting out your files is so foreign to most, by feeling like you’re erring on the side of splitting them out more, you may end up with chunks of text about the right size! (My personal preference is to have each chunk a scene for the prose, and each chunk a topic for my reference notes.)

You can always easily re-organize later (Scrivener makes that easy) but for your particular question I think this might make a good starting place: a folder for each character, containing files with different notes about that character; a folder for ideas and challenges, with a file for each main idea and challenge. As you build up your notes, you’ll probably change that structure to suit your work style.

Ditto that advice. Chop up with glee. Within reason, the more you slice things up, the more relevant Scrivener will be. Your “table of contents” (the Binder) will be more useful, search results will be more topical, and re-organising narrative flow during editing will be effortless.

If you think of it more in terms of what index cards would represent when using an actual card box or corkboard, it is easier, than thinking of it in terms like many other word processing and writing programs encourage. Of course, the advantage here is that your index card is tied to the actual part of the book it represents. Realising this potential is a major step in getting Scrivener’s philosophy.

I like to cut up character descriptions and such into common topical arrangements, as Janra suggests. For example, if you have a summary piece for each character, you can do a quick keyword search (assuming you have tagged the summary) for “Character Summary” and get all of your characters in a nice list, summarised. This is very useful for checking mundane details and identities across the board, once the character list grows.