Better and Simpler than a Timeline

I’ve seen various posts asking for a timeline feature, and while I’d like something similar, I love the simplicity in Scrivener. It works great for me the way it is. What I would simply like is within a folder to declare, and select from, different sort orders, and to be able to put an alias of one document in another folder. For example, I often create a folder called “scenes”, and put each of the scenes in the story in that folder. The sequence may either parallel the timeflow, or the order I intend to present the scenes (allowing for flashbacks, etc.). It would be great if I could do both, assigning “Time Sequence” as one order, but then control-clicking to get a contextual menu to create a new sequence. Name it “Presentation Sequence”. Then I drag things into the new order. Control-click again, select “Time Sequence”, and things rearrange. I would actually make even further use of this, since stories often have different threads (e.g. in the Lord of the Rings, there’s Sam and Frodo on their Journy, Merry and Pippin on theirs, and Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas on theirs). There are actually lots of ways to organize and reorganize the files within a folder, depending on what (as a writer) you’re trying to keep track of. Last is the need for the aliases, so that if you organize things into subfolders, or need to combine things from other places, you can. Of course, if you had aliases, you don’t strictly need the re-order thing (you can create a separate folder for each sequence, and put aliases in each in different orders), but then you have to always remember to create a lot of aliases.

Okay, that got long. Sorry.

If you can do this easily, great. If not, well, Scrivener is still the best software I’ve ever used (and I’ve been using computers since 1972, and I’m a programmer myself, so I appreciate it on many, many levels). Nice work.

– Bob

One more thing. Another alternative to what I just listed (you still need aliases), is to provide a “floor” view for the index cards. I mean, when you were in high school, writing your term paper, you’d sit on the floor and spread all of the index cards out, and organize them visually in groups. I can picture the same thing, but with any number of floors. This eliminates the need for aliases, or for a contextual menu to select sort sequences. Just allow for a “floor” view, and let the user select from a menu to create new floors, or select an existing floor. A floor is nothing more than the 2D spacial position of the index cards for the files. To add a file to a spot on the floor, just drag it from the binder at the left onto the floor. To rearrange it, just drag and move. You could stack cards that overlap, or just let them overlap free form. This is just like sorting, but instead of being one dimensional, it’s two dimensional (three, with stacking), which lets you sequence things AND create relative groups. As an example, again, using LOTR, you could arrange the three character sets in columns, then let time flow down. Each scene represents who it is for by the column, and when it is by it’s vertical position. When complications pop up, like Gandalf doing things outside of all of the groups, his card just gets put half way between two columns. Want to view things in the order they happened? Pick Floor 1. Want to view things in the order they’re told in the story (Gandalf recounts some events to Aragorn, rather than the story portraying them in order), then switch to Floor 2.

I’m not trying to make your life difficult… but this might actually be easier to use than context menus and one dimensional sorts in the binder, and it creates defacto aliases. Basically, when a user drags a card from the binder to the floor, that is creating an alias, with a position (sort order) determined by where they drop it.

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your kind words about Scrivener. I think 2.0 will broadly cover both of your main suggestions, although it won’t work exactly as you say. But it will allow for a way of having different orders of documents, and there are some cool new things coming with the corkboard view…

Many thanks and all the best,