Character and Location tracking in Scenes

I’m currently demoing both Scrivener and StoryMill, to decide which one I want to buy on the 1st to write my NaNoWriMo novel in this year. Overall, I’m really loving Scrivener more, but there’s one feature that StoryMill has that is important to me; if Scrivener had this feature, it would be absolutely perfect to me!

I think the character and location information needs to be directly (and easily) attachable to each scene. I know you can use custom metadata to add this, but it’s not as integrated and useful as it is in StoryMill.

I’d like to be able to add characters and places to each scene, in a way that when I click on a specific Character sheet, I can see exactly what scenes they’re in, and what Locations they’ve been to. Or if I click a Location, I want to see who has been there, and what scenes take place there.

I’m sure if I was clever about it I could set up some custom searches that would do this, but I don’t have that kind of time. It should Just Work™; things like this are why I love my Mac :slight_smile:

(edited because apparently I can’t spell this morning)

Have you tried using document references for this? In the inspector, switch to the “reference” tab at the bottom (icon of the stack of books). You can then create links there to the other relevant documents either by using the “+” button to create internal links or just dragging and dropping from the binder. So in a scene you could drag in the related character and locations sheets, and Scrivener will automatically backlink, so in your character sheet you’ll also see this scene listed in its reference pane. Double-clicking the icon in the reference pane will open that sheet for you (and you can determine the behavior of where it opens in the Navigation pane of Scrivener>Preferences, whether you want to open in a QuickReference window, an editor split, etc.)

You can also use Scrivener Links to create links directly in the scene itself, so e.g. when you name a location you could select it and then choose Edit > Scrivener Link and select the appropriate location sheet. This will likewise place a link back to the scene in the location sheet’s reference pane.

Ahh, thank you! This is really close to what I’m hoping to be able to do - close enough that I can work with it for sure :slight_smile: Now I’m kind of embarrassed that I missed that.

So then, I guess my suggestion can be modified to maybe tightening the character/location/scene association (or a better way of phrasing that)… unless I’m doing it wrong, while I can see the scene listed with both the character and the location, this doesn’t associate the character with the location (or vice versa).

For now I can go the extra step and link the character to the place the same way, but it would be nice for this to happen automagically (or to be an option, since everyone might not want that). Thanks again :slight_smile:

The tool to use would be the keywords. You can add keywords to every document (=scene), be it the name of a character, a location, a plot thread, whatever. And you can search for these keywords and get a list of all scenes/documents they’re attached to.

BTW, I’ve tested StoryMill some time ago. I found it promising on first look, but painful to actually work with. If it hasn’t profoundly changed (which would mean: if it has not become much more like Scrivener is already), I would recommend against it. I have difficulties to imagine that somebody who actually writes novels is involved in its development.

Could you elaborate on this shortly? I’m happy with Scrivener but like Katili I’m always looking into applications that help organizing my stuff. But I’d hate to use two different programs for that, so it’s often either improvising in Scrivener or looking for alternatives for some projects… On the other hand, I just opened my current screenplay and dragged a character name from the binder to the keywords section of the document. It appeared with a colored tag and therefore will easily be found when searching for keywords. So, this might actually be the right direction… For pre-production, a “report” made from these connections would be great, an exportable list of scenes with all the used characters and locations… Will dive into that a bit further…

BTW, I’m just reading your latest novel (just needed a break :wink:)… Intriguing! I’m wondering where this is headed (fantasy? sci-fi? love drama? Or all of it?)… Only on page 200…

Best regards,


Sorry to resurrect something that’s over a year old, but I think this feature is still on my wish list - something that integrates the character and place linking, and the keyword linking (If this has already been addressed, and I haven’t figured it out, please forgive me. I’ve been using Scrivener for Winodws since it was released, and I’m still slowly understanding some of the different features).

I am learning to use the keywords, and thanks to this thread I’ve discovered document references, and am going to start using them, but ideally, Scrivener would be able to include a character/location database (I think that’s what it is), such as the one in yWriter(It’s probably the thing I miss most from yWriter). Basically, it lets you create each character and location as an entry, with fields for things like description, pictures, names, etc. - most of the things you would find on a character sheet. You can then associate these entries with the scene, and track them across the whole novel.

I realize this feature is aimed more at novel writing rather than … well, anything else. And I have no idea how prohibitive it would be to actually implement this in this way. But it’s a wish list, so I thought I’d throw it out there and see if there was any hope. If not, still thanks for an awesome program.

PLEASE add this as a more accessible and comprehensive feature.

I keep switching between yWriter and Scrivener because yWriter offers such built in prompts that are accessible from every screen of the drafting process. I end up coming back to Scrivener every time because the drafting environment is more user friendly and customizable, but having to set all of this stuff up manually through the document references and custom meta tags before any project breaks my flow. I’ve lost momentum more times than I can count on new and existing projects because of this, and I’m sure I’m not alone. What can I say, I’m a methodical pantser. :slight_smile:

Biggest issue for me is the section labeling. Custom Meta Data doesn’t sound like something I’d need or use while drafting novels, but definitely sounds apropos on a website or on a coding project. I didn’t realize I could use these features in this manner until I googled how to do it. The other part of it would be to have the character name link to something rather than it just being a tag.

Thanks for your consideration!

This is a very old thread. :slight_smile: Custom metadata certainly is something you can use for a novel - it’s just a way of you creating any extra information you need to keep track of.

In Scrivener 3, the new bookmarks feature makes it very easy to look at character or location sheets right in the Inspector, alongside what you are writing, so that should come in handy.

There can be no tracking of such things within scenes, though, because Scrivener does not know what a character, location or scene is, given that it is a general-purpose writing tool that is not restricted only to novels.

All the best,