Can I host two separate manuscripts in the binder?

I have a very long novel. I would like to work on it as two separate manuscripts, part one and part two, each autonomous and independent. But I would like to host both manuscripts in the binder. I guess they would be called separate Drafts. They would not be backups or similar in any way. Is this possible and can anyone give me specific instructions about how?

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Although the tips I posted in this thread were written for a different scenario (working with a succession of revisions in the same project), the implementation is precisely the same as what you would do for having multiple volumes in the same work. Whether that is because you want to focus on one major part for a while, or actually write multiple books of a series into one project, there is a good set of features to handle these working styles.

I’d run some searches on the forum as well, this is a question that comes up with regularity, and a lot of tips have been shared in the past.


Thank you. I did a search through the forum. The Scrivener program seems well thought out and designed, but it does cause some angst, especially about using up processing power. For instance, (just for your information, I don’t know the actual cause of what I’m about to describe) but I was using Scrivener for a long manuscript, over 800 pages, 380,000 words. I was moving segments from the right panel to the left, working rapidly on an iMac with significant memory and processing power (although over five years old). I was using keystrokes to perform actions, and Bang! my screen went blank. I restarted and found that the folder called “Desktop” was gone. Fortunately I had been doing frequent backups on an external drive, so all that was safe. But I lost several hours of work. Apple Care was stumped, Google searches were not helpful, and I never did get the “Desktop” or it’s contents back. Recovery software also failed. So I’ve slowed down when making demands on Scrivener. To get back to my question – the general advice for getting a second “Draft” folder in the binder seems to be to “duplicate” the existing “Draft” folder. That, however, gives me a duplicate of the entire first half of my manuscript. I could now simply rename the second “Draft” folder, delete the contents, and import my second half from Word into the second “Draft.” But it seems like there ought to be a more elegant solution. Specific instructions about how to do this would help. There seems to be a lot of confusion and a variety of terms being used with regards to this seemingly simple question. I do like Scrivener very much. But I wonder if I am making excessive demands on the software. Thanks for your help.

Yikes, to be honest that sounds more like an overall Mac issue that may require some troubleshooting, than something specific to Scrivener. While it can be a demanding program in some cases, it would take something considerably more than Scrivener to make your Desktop folder disappear (semi?) permanently—and losing several hours of work like that could also be a red flag. It’s good you got in touch with Apple Care, though it sounds like they couldn’t help much.

I regularly work in a similarly sized project (the user manual; both Win and Mac editions in one project, around 350k words and +900 pages), and don’t run into any issues myself. The most demanding thing I do with the software is compiling, which takes around ten minutes of multi-core CPU usage and a good chunk of RAM—but honestly that’s to be expected when 3,500 binder items are being excessively processed and turned into one huge file.

To get back to my question – the general advice for getting a second “Draft” folder in the binder seems to be to “duplicate” the existing “Draft” folder. That, however, gives me a duplicate of the entire first half of my manuscript.

Okay, apologies that might have been confusing. That would be what I would consider to be an answer to a different kind of question. In this case they were looking to easily swap between large-scale revisions of the entire draft, so duplicating the Draft folder is a way of doing that.

For you though, the main idea would be to put each major act into separate folders in the Draft, and then use the rest of that solution to keep word counts and compile settings tuned to the act you are working on.

I do like Scrivener very much. But I wonder if I am making excessive demands on the software.

I can’t say for sure of course, but I wouldn’t think so, the program itself is extremely robust (tested to millions of words and has been known to work with terabytes of research). I think it’s more a matter of making sure you’re using the right technique.

Basically as I understand it, you want two major parts in one project, and for that I think it would make sense to have each major part organised into the Draft folder. The parts to pay more attention to in that linked post is the stuff under point #2, where it is described how to set things up so that a subfolder in the Draft can essentially operate as your main WIP.

Does that make more sense?

Thanks for your quick reply. That’s reassuring about the robustness of Scrivener. I think you’re right about the source of my iMac “Desktop” evaporation. I’m retiring my five year old iMac for the new iMac. I picked a yellow iMac which is on order. If I understand correctly, the answer for me is to put the two sections into two folders inside the main “Draft.” It isn’t necessary to create two “Draft” folders. I’d like to be able to compile the two sections separately. That’s why I wanted two “Draft” folders. Guess I’ll experiment. Thanks again.

Right, in this way of using Scrivener, you can think of the Draft folder as being more of a higher level host for anything related to the drafts, plural. You might even wish to rename it, though that is purely cosmetic.

There is no way to actually create two Draft folders, which is the thing. The project can only ever have one draft folder, and that is where you will want to put anything that will eventually be compiled. It may be in simpler projects that what you compile is a single book, or a short story, etc. But in larger projects, that may be more than that. The main thing is that when you go to the Compile feature itself, everything beneath Draft is eligible for compilation, even if in part rather than as a whole.

Stuff outside of the draft generally is not, and can be thought of as supporting material.

So as noted in that post, you can in your compile settings select one whole subsection of the draft, say “Part Two” as what gets compiled. When you do that, the rest of the software can be set to work with that setting, for the purposes of word count goals and statistics.

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Honestly, that sounds very much like the effects a failing hard drive had on my Windows PC.

Mostly out of curiosity’s sake, how would External Folder Sync behave if there’s a duplicated draft folder and the project was set only to sync the drafts folder?

I agree, if my system was showing signs like that I’d be doing a hard backup and running some lower level diagnostics like the system hardware check routines, drive repair, etc. It’s a hassle, but one can never be too careful about that kind of stuff. Even if software can’t repair the problem, it’s good to know whether a storm is coming, so you can have replacements online.

Yeah, the program is designed from the ground up to have this one container that serves as the host for your writings, those which you would want to eventually produce documents with. That’s about the end of it though—how you actually use that folder is entirely up to you. I’ve seen scriptwriters put their entire television show into that folder, all of the seasons, episodes and scenes therein. If for one person “Draft” means “Manuscript”, great, but for another it can be “Trilogy”, or “Papers - 2021”, or “System Documentation”, etc.

The key thing is that there are tools to say, “This chunk of the draft folder right here is the totality of my work right now, the rest does not matter”. And you know, if someone doesn’t want to use those features that is fine too—it’s really not difficult to indent a folder into the draft, or promote it to the root level to remove it.

I’d be looking very carefully at that Mac. A sudden incident like that could suggest a number of issues. Of course rapid keystrokes could result in clumsy fingers and an accidental delete, control settings, etc.

Don’t laugh, but I know of a number of users who’ve accidentally turned the screen down to zero and decided the computer was dead, unplugged, restarted etc losing work. I also know of a number of support staff who haven’t thought of that. - Key tip, if your Mac screen is unexpectedly black, F2 a few times before doing anything drastic.

I can understand AppleCare being a little stumped, one off intermittent are a PITA however I would go back to them using the original case number they should have given you and request they submit an RTA on your issue to engineering if not already done so. They will request a number of logs and it can take a few days, however it is entirely possible if it is a heat related issue, a sudden RAM flake etc that the diagnostics and logs may show nothing.

The iMac may be obsolete status so not all locations may have components for repair depending on exact age.

My favourite scare moment that happened to me was opening up my MacBook Air one morning, and it was just flat out dead. The screen wouldn’t light up from sleep, keyboard backlight was off, the power button when held down did nothing, it was 100% completely unresponsive. I thought for sure it was a toasted motherboard or power supply.

So I picked it up… and it suddenly turned on and the login screen came up. Weird, I thought, so I set it back down and it instantly turned back off.

Turns out I was setting it on top of another laptop, and like the Mac, this laptop has a powerful magnet in the display lid which is used to put the computer to sleep when the lid is closed. I was setting my laptop down directly on top of this magnet, in just the right place under the touchpad for the Mac’s “lid is shut” circuit to detect a magnetic force and thus kept the Mac asleep even though its lid was open.


Thank you Amber for responses. I think I’ve learned the technique (with your help) for keeping track of an immense numbers of parts and pieces, characters, and scenes. There are so many great features in Scrivener –– but of course someone like me will present an eccentric request to use it in a different way.

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Thanks RuffPub,
Yes. I have a new Mac on the way. Hope their new memory system works well. Sixteen GB of Ram seems small, but it’s a whole new system - apparently. Apple Care sent me all the way through engineering, but we never found the lost desktop. The desktop folder was erased and even recovery software couldn’t find it. It seems it got overwritten with a new desktop. Anyway, I have rebuilt what was lost. And multiple backups have become a bigger priority for me. I’ve heard we’re heading into a period of solar storms. So I keep a thumb drive backup protected in a metal box. (against EMF radiation).

You will find the 16Gb more than sufficient. I have an MBAir with 16gb and for most tasks it is as quick or quicker than my 16” i9 with 64gb RAM. It’s only with really heavy complex tasks that the 16” is faster, and then the fans are screaming! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

@AmberV That is a classic! Tech can still pull a surprise when it chooses. :upside_down_face:

That even tops my weird Mac behavior story.

Back when iMacs had user replaceable memory, the chips were located behind the Apple logo below the monitor, oriented vertically relative to gravity. After a long distance move, mine became slightly loose. Not loose enough to cause a repeatable, diagnosable failure, just loose enough to occasionally send the computer off to lala land. And of course if you moved the computer to try to figure out the problem, they’d settle back into place and all would be well.

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@kewms, that’s another great one that would stump most. :grinning:

Sometimes the best way to fix it is to give it a good knock upside the head… :sweat_smile:

That’s how I fix me from time to time

aka “percussive maintenance”