arranging index cards

Is it possible to not have the index cards automatically snap next to each other - that is, to float rather than act as though they’re in-line? For instance, so I can have the last scene on the bottom right corner, first scene top left, some stuff in the middle in the middle, and so on. At the moment I’d just get three cards in a line if I tried this.

No. This has been discussed extensively on the forums. The corkboard is a visual representation of the outline order, and allowing cards to be placed free-form would complicate that. It would have to become something separate from outline order, and then it would become something that Scrivener was never meant to be.

Must’ve missed those discussions - were they recent? I’m sure I entirely buy the reasoning, but fair enough if it’s beyond the current conception of Scrivener.

Did any alternative apps come up in the discussion?

Supernotecards and Save the Cat, IIRC - though I think neither will do exactly what you want. And of course some people use Excel for this purpose.

The basics of the official answer: :slight_smile:

Scrivener would the have to remember the co-ordinates for every card in every folder/container under such an implementation.

Scrivener would not always guess correctly which one is supposed to go first or last etc if the cards could be arranged arbitrarily.

The corkboard is just an alternative way of viewing the outliner or binder data. It is not intended as a mind-map alternative, but just as an easy way of looking at your synopses in order.


Well, for alternate software, it depends on what you need. Do you just want to visualise the elements of your novel on a map, be able to draw arrows between them, assign pictures/colours/background elements and so on? There are a lot of illustration and diagramming programs that would work for that. OmniGraffle (which straddles the line and dabbles a bit in information as well as visualisation) is good, but expensive. . Then you have the so-called mind-mappers. Descending specificity charts and the like. Xmind, Inspiration, NovaMind. Finally you have the concept-mappers which is probably closest to what you want. Less emphasis on looking good, free-form layout constraints, with a heavy emphasis on data. Tinderbox, Flying Logic, CMap. Unfortunately, these also tend to be the most expensive; though there is a sale on FL right now.

SuperNoteCard is like Scrivener, actually. You cannot move cards around visually just for the fun of it. They will always be drawn in a grid of rows and columns as corresponds to the book outline order.

I have a feeling CMap may be free?

It was changed from being pure free, to free for educational, civic/government use, and personal use, but requires a licence for commercial use. So if you make (or intend to) money writing, it might not qualify. It costs about as much as Tinderbox for a basic kit, which is probably all any one person would need. The $7,000 USD per annum kit is a server-client package for large installations.

I misinformed you: Save the Cat will do exactly what you want (, although there are other ways in which Tinderbox and the other applications AmberV lists are significantly more capable.

Actually Save the Cat won’t do that. It limits you to four rows and you can have ten cards on each row. You can slide them around within the row but you can’t just put them anywhere - it is all built around following Blake Snyder’s philosophy for developing screenplays.
All the best,

Ouch! :blush: But I think you’ll find that within the 40 four by ten card limit you can move them around freely between the rows as spinningdoc stated was the requirement. (Before I voluntarily defenestrated myself and invested in Scrivener and a MacBook I used STC, Windows version, demo I think, to plan two reports and a presentation.)

Thanks for the suggestions. I brightened a bit over the Save The Cat app - that’s exactly what I wanted it for since I’m finding the book pretty useful. But it’s £40 for something that basically just does that very limited 4 x 10 card thing. And also, it seems to be developing into a bit of a cult with none of the ‘whateverness’ of the book. Lots of rather serious Americans calling themselves ‘cats’ and venerating Blake Snyder, who wrote it. Put me right off.

Keith - fair enough if the positioning thing is harder than a complete non coder like myself would assume.

Just to clarify - I want to be able to use the position of cards as part of the process, so one bottom right would be the last one; middle/middle would be in the middle; top left would be right at the start. It’s kind of how I think apart from anything else, and I’ve used actual bits of sliced up tree on the floor before. I suppose that’s what I’ll have to do again.

I forgot to mention Curio in all of this. This is a completely free-form corkboard type application. You can place text boxes and even make them look like index cards—but you can even drop graphics, URLs, and all sorts of things onto the board—even draw right on it. The corkboards are “infinitely expanding” too, so you are not constrained by size. You might want to research how it exports. I never really exported anything from it. Also it comes with some rather expensive versions, but I imagine the basic usage version would be good enough for what you want.

I had a look at Curio, and it’s overkill to, certainly for £50.

So, to take it back to basics, I knocked up something in Keynote which just about does the trick.

It’s a single slide, set up to look like a board for cards a la Snyder. Cards are just text boxes, and can be dragged and dropped willy nilly. It’s not exactly state of the art but it works and if you’ve got Keynote (or Powerpoint… I did a quick export for PP) it’s free. Happy to make it available to anyone if they ask nicely.

Very nice use of Keynote! You could also enter text on a series of slides, use the outliner to arrange them, or the “light box” view as well. Then export them as a text file to Scriv. I think; never tried it.

For a “Save the Cat” scenario in Scriv, you could also just create four folders, and create ten documents in each…

Scrivener is, in my mind, an ideal Save The Cat structurer. Posted screen shots of how I’d do it here: … Cat#p28725

Normal Caveat: I vote no on issue STC.