Am I organizing this right?

I’m a very long time Word user that decided to try out Scrivener for Nano this year. One of my friends is also an author, uses Scrivener, loves it and highly recommended it to me. Given that my copy of Word is 2006 and is showing it’s age, especially with the very large books I write (100K is a shorter novel for me, 366K is my largest to date), I figured what the heck, I’ll give it a go. So far the learning curve is… steep and some of the program is just confusing to me. I’ve done the tutorial and read through a large part of the Help PDF and I’m still not sure I’m doing things right.

I’m unsure if I’ve put things the way they should go in order to later compile into a document for publication (most likely via Amazon). I’ve currently got my Nano project oragnized by chapter title under the Manuscript folder with each chapter added as a folder itself. Is this correct or was I supposed to add each chapter as a text thing (add folder and add text are the only options I see under Manuscript)?

If I click on the Manuscript folder, it loads chapter11 then the other chapters (1-10). Chapter 11 is also shown in the sub-folder list above chapter 1 instead of following numerical order and I’m confused about that as chapters 1-10 go in numerical order. The only thing I can think of for the odd chapter order is that each chapter has a character name (Chapter 1-Yalaren, Chapter 2- Yalaren, Chapter 3-Wu-Tyr, etc.) after it because I write shifting POV and need to know which character’s POV the chapter is from. I can provide a screenshot of this if required.

I have other WiP’s (in my ancient Word program) that I’d like to transfer over but I want to make sure I have the organization method done right as many of those projects are large (over 200K each) and will take some time to port/organize as many of them are one continuous Word file (which is why they take forever to open).

Any help/insight would be greatly appreciated.

A screenshot of your Binder would be helpful. I’ll up your trust level so you can post one.

If you drag Chapter 11 to its correct location, does it stay there? It sounds like the folders might have been imported in alphabetical order, which is definitely not what you want.

You can use either folders or text items for chapters (or anything else). Scrivener doesn’t care.

Typically, you would use a folder if your chapters are broken down into smaller sub-divisions, like scenes. If each chapter is a complete single document, adding folders creates another level of hierarchy that you may not need.

Yes, it appears that dragging it to the correct position did the trick although I haven’t closed then opened the file to test that out. Hopefully it stays that way.

Thank you for clearing up the thing about folder/text. For my purposes, just using the text thing would be best since I won’t have anything else in the folder but that one chapter.

It should.

It’s possible to sort a Collection, but not the main Binder. So if it had refused to move, that would have been a sign that you were actually looking at a (sorted) Collection. Since it moved, you should be fine.

Yes, it stayed in the new position upon opening the file again. Thank you once more for suggesting that. I can’t believe I didn’t think to try that. My utter noob status with Scrivener is showing wildly.

I haven’t tried sorting anything or making any kind of collection so I’d be a bit alarmed if it had been sorted or turned into a collection. I’m very straight forward in my writing mechanics so most of the things that Scrivener can do will probably never be used by me.

I do like the notes feature though as it makes it much easier to check things about characters (height, which eye is gold/silver, where marks are on the body, etc.) without needing to open another document (as I did with Word). For some of my larger projects I might poke at the bookmark feature to note specific important scenes within the novel. While I have a good idea where certain scenes happen, when it’s within a novel that’s currently at 248K (and not yet finished *sigh), it can be tedious to scroll through 20K looking for a specific passage. At least I think that’s how bookmarks work?

This might be a reason to split the chapters into smaller chunks.

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Sometimes individual chapters can become large. Like 15K or even 20K large. I try to keep them between 5-10K but if a chapter wants to be bigger, then so be it. My readers don’t seem to mind, lol.

Oh, I was thinking of splitting them into smaller chunks within Scrivener, to make them easier to manage. That doesn’t necessarily need to mean smaller chunks in the finished manuscript.

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I figured that was what you meant. I know that’s entirely possible to do within Scrivener, too, but that wouldn’t work for me and how I write. It would disrupt my writing flow as I’d then spend a fair bit of time wondering where best to break something. I’ve been writing for about 45 years and it would be very fair to say I’ve become rather set in my methods over that time.

Logically, I know it wouldn’t matter as far as the end product and it would be something only I see but it would bother me terribly to see it visually broken up when it’s not supposed to be and I’d want to “fix it” every time I saw it. Which I would do after not a lot of time because it would irritate me visually so much.

Scrivener will certainly work with this approach, just be aware that features like bookmarks and metadata internal links are specified at the document level, so in the event you ever decide to adopt them, you will find them less useful with chapter-sized documents.

On another topic: As you are coming from Word, it’s important that you understand the differences between how you’d approach saving/backing up Scrivener projects versus Word documents. Particularly, Ctrl+S/Save doesn’t work the same in Scrivener as it does in Word. Also, leaving a project open in Scrivener directly impacts how and when the project is saved/backed up.

I strongly recommend you read this post of mine, which explains these points, as well as Scrivener’s backup settings and my recommendations for each. It was written for the prior version of Scrivener, but the settings haven’t changed, except now you’d reach them via File > Options > Backup.

Knowing how Scrivener’s built-in backup system works will save you sorrow in the event of some future data disaster.

If you have any questions, feel free to post follow-ups here.



Thank you for the link. I don’t think I need to worry about syncing anything (and related saves) as I only write on my laptop. I have no idea how people can write on their phone. That’s just a hard no for me. I won’t write on my tablet either (although truthfully I don’t think I could anyway as old tablet is very old). The desktop is just for work (architecture & structural engineering so AutoCAD) and that isn’t even connected to the internet.

But because of AutoCAD and it’s adoration of crashing because it’s Tuesday or the moon is full or insert bs reason here, I got into the habit of saving often for everything. It’s good to know Scrivener does things a bit different than Word as far as saves go and I’ll go poke at my save settings now to tweak them. I certainly don’t want to lose anything.

I do close Scrivener every time I finish a session or expect to be away from my laptop for longer than say 20-30 minutes. I actually completely shut down my laptop every night or if I expect to be out of the house for longer than it takes to run garbage out to the dumpster. Every month I do a full Fiction folder (where all my writing is) back up to 2 different USB drives.

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Bear in mind that with Scrivenings view you can see all of a book, a section, a chapter or whatever as one single scrolling document that you can both view and edit. This is just one button click away, so you can easily flip between working on one small “chunk” and reading / working on the current chapter (or the whole book).


Didn’t know that. I am painfully new to the program; like barely over a month new. I’m also the type that doesn’t really test stuff out with tech unless I suddenly discover a need to do something beyond the very basic. Like I’ve owned a smartphone (several brands) for years yet I only learned how to take a screenshot last week because a friend needed to have copies of something someone had sent me via text. I’d never needed to do that in all that time so I never bothered to learn how.

Far be it from me to argue about working methods with someone who’s written multiple 200K word novels!

OTOH, if you haven’t written them with Scrivener it might be worth doing a little experimenting to see how the new features can enhance your process. You probably don’t write 20K words in a single sitting, and your readers probably don’t read those chapters in a single sitting, either. Probably there are natural break points that you could exploit to make the project a little more Scrivener-friendly.


I can’t recall ever doing 20K in one session but I have banged out 15K in one sitting more than once. It’s not healthy for me to do that now and I’m screwed the next day to do anything involving my hands (arthritis is big on pay-back) so I try to limit myself. I’m generally successful because I do eventually learn to listen to my body when it says it has had enough of *insert activity here. Side note; this getting old thing is not nearly as fun as they would have you believe and certainly not worth the questionable ability to eat desert for breakfast if you want.

I think I’ll need to become a bit more used to/friendly with Scrivener before I start experimenting with it. I know the possibility is there to do a lot more with it. I need to be braver about trying new tech things in general, too.

Hello ID_Locke:
As a newbie myself, I just popped in to review this section. I just want to compliment you on your enormous productivity, passion for writing and to genuinely admire your commitment to learning new stuff. Kudos, exemplar!

I was productive writing in November because it was a challenge (Nano). There are sometimes months where I don’t write as I’m doing other things that suck up vast amounts of my time. Most of my other time goes to my ball-jointed-dolls (bjd’s), which are physical representations of the character in my novels, and gaming. And despite being a huge introvert, I do socialize on occasion with friends and family.

I spend a good chunk of time making wigs, clothes and eyes for my bjd’s (I currently own 80 of them) and since all the sewing is done by hand, that’s a significant amount of time for just one of those items. I play a lot of ESO and I play Pathfinder every Sunday with my group. Sometimes I’m surprised that I get as much writing done as I do.