Backstory Tags or Tagging Text - How to manage the reveal of backstory

I am working on a novel. As such a key aspect is managing backstory references. While some of the backstory is related as complete scenes, much is provided by “micro-references” of just a sentence or two and these micro-references are scattered throughout the manuscript. One challenge is keeping track of these references for multiple characters over the full length of the manuscript. For example, I am writing scene A - have I already told the reader that character B attended University C? If so, where? Obviously, this is a trivial example in terms of its narrative impact but in many cases these micro-reveals are very important and even more important is WHEN these reveals are made in relation to the over-all narrative.

In fact, I would say that the revelation of character backstory is one of the KEY aspects of my novel and many novels. If done well, the novel works. If not done, well it will not.

So I need to

    1. Be able to tag text as being a backstory reference; and
    1. Know what scene it is placed.
    1. Be able to see this in an over-view form.

Ideally I would be able

    1. to tag text
      e.g. with a formatted tag like “BST- David reveals that his parents were killed in a fire”
    1. Have this tag show up on the index card of the given scene in cork board view.

(Obviously I could manually add this as part of the synopsis but this will require a lot of manual work especially as a major part of revision is moving these micro-references from one scene to another).

Reviewing the forum, the following thread explains how to export comments and inline annotations to an RTF file:

Using - File>Export>Comments and Annotations

This provides a way to do a search on all such tags and create a result that also provides the information of which scene the tag is located. As noted above, in this case the context of the tag is as important as the tag itself.

So far so good.

Then I can import the RTF file that is generated back into my project

Using - File>Import> Files

This creates a new file with all of the backstory tags and the scenes in which they are located (with appropriate hyperlinks). Split screen editing then allows an easy way of seeing and moving from one reference to another.

Pretty slick.

Is there anything I have overlooked that might improve this process?

Many thanks

John Geddes

Vancouver, BC

p.s. I have to say that Scrivener is impressive terms of its suite of tools that can be adapted to the needs of authors of very different types of works.

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I am in process of writing first book a sci-fi. So have world building and back story. So I have separate project with characters cards with pics weaknesses and strengths and quirks and open as quick reference panel to refer to as write. In backstory project update world and backstory as go and use comments to highlight text involved and keyword backstory and pov so can create collections of one or other to track

  1. Yeah, if you need text-level tagging, inspector comments see to all three needs, though do not deliver via you ideal (2). Instead, the comments give you overview by being viewable stacked up in the inspector (showing all the comments on whatever expanse appears in the editor (including Scrivenings view on Mac)).

  2. If you can do with just document-level tagging (and someone will come on here and suggest that you split your docs up to suit!), there are other possibilities. For example, setting up one or more custom metadata fields for the purpose. Still not visible on index cards, but viewable in Outline view.

  3. One more thought, do you really need this level of machine coordination between text passage and description? Consider this for example: Create a custom defined style that does nothing but put a line around the text in that style. Use this as a mark of any backstory-giving you do in a given doc. Then on the index card jot brief notes of the backstory delivered in that doc. Would this be enough? Do you really need an automated linkage between the two? Because if this will do it, you’re done. Has the virtue that Scriv’s border around a style does not show in compiled output.