Chapters, Scenes and Prologues

Hello everyone,

As a new Scrivener user, of just under a week, I am still finding my feet, so please don’t bit me too hard. I am trying to like it , as I can see it would suit me, but find myself hitting several technical brick walls which are generating frustration at the moment.

I have some questions of course, if anyone can indulge me!

(1) I still can’t quite grasp the significance of the Scrivener usage of the labels of Chapter and Scene. Does it have any internal meaning? Or is just for search convenience?

(2) I am organising my book in Chapters containing scenes, as per one of the templates. I am naming the chapter folders simply: “Chapter 1”, “Chapter 2”, etc.
Thing is, when I do a Compile, my chapter names are produced along with default subheadings of like “Chapter One”, “Chapter Two”.
Ouch. How do I then stop it printing out my folder names? I tried switching ‘include’ on and off.

(3) Prologues. I thought I could just in a text page just before the first chapter and it would magically appear there. Well, it ended up shifting all the chapters down and out of sync with their numbering. So obviously I didn’t do that right! How should I add it? I tried as a page in Front Matter but failed to see it on Compile

Thanks a lot!


Hi, and welcome aboard!

There is no significance at all, really. I assume you’ve started from the novel template. The main thing to know here is that all templates started life as the “Blank” template; I just put together what I thought would be some useful settings, structures and compile settings for the templates. So, the labels that are set up “out of the box” are just examples, really. You can go and edit them under Project > Meta-Data Settings… You can even change “Label” to be “PoV” or anything else. Or, you can just ignore the labels altogether if you don’t need them. Some users use them for all sorts of things; personally, I only use them occasionally, mainly to pick out colour for certain distinctive items.

Both labels and keywords are there to make it easy to find documents (or to be ignored if you don’t want to use them, as I say). For instance, you could use labels for point-of-view, assigning a character name for each, then create a search collection for your main characters. Then, you could easily view only the sections that are told from a particular point of view. But that’s just one example.

Click on the “Section Layout” button in the “Formatting” pane of Compile. That automatically adds a “Chapter [number]” prefix to each folder title, so you can get rid of that if you want. Or, you can simply deselect “Title” in the “Formatting” pane for folders, so that your “Chapter 1”, “Chapter 2” headings aren’t included and just the Scrivener-generated prefixes are added. Again, it’s entirely up to you which approach you take. You can have Scrivener add the headings, or just handle it manually.

Again, look at the “Formatting” pane of Compile; you’ll see that text documents are set to be formatted differently depending on whether they are at Level 1 (i.e. directly inside the Draft folder) or at Level 2+ (i.e. inside a folder that is inside the Draft folder, or buried even deeper). The “Level 1” documents are set to have a “Chapter [number]” prefix. This is there for users who don’t want to use folders for their chapters but to use text documents instead. You will want to get rid of this prefix for your top-level text documents (again, by selecting the text document Level 1 row in “Formatting” and clicking on “Section Layout”).

I’d recommend not getting too caught up in Compile as a new user, though, other than to play with it and know what sorts of things you can do with it. If you really want to play with it, though, I would recommend choosing “Original” in the “Format As” Compile pop-up. This will make it so that Scrivener only compiles the text and doesn’t do anything else to it. Then, go through each of the panes in the “All Options” tab of Compile and play with all the settings. What new users often miss is that you don’t have to use all of those Compile features at all. You could just format the text as you want it in the editor and Compile with a minimal of Compile settings. That’s not taking advantage of many of the benefits of Compile, but it’s an option - you can just use Scrivener as a word processor, formatting all the documents as you want and just having them stitched together at the end with nothing else done to them. I think it’s useful to know that as it takes some of the pressure off; Scrivener doesn’t expect you to learn everything about it; all that stuff is just there if you want it and have the time to learn it.

That applies to the whole program, too - don’t feel that you need to learn what every gizmo does. At its core, it’s just a list of files on the left that you edit on the right, and anything in the Draft folder can be compiled into a single document at the end. On top of that, the synopses, notes and split editor are probably the most useful features to learn at the start.

Hope that helps!

All the best,

Dear Keith,

Thank you very much for your comprehensive reply.
Looks like I have some experimenting to do.