Character and story notes - where to create in Scrivener?

If this has already been answered, can you direct me to the relevant posting, please? Basically I am trying to figure out the best way to put my character and story summaries into Scrivener. I use the keywords panel to list my character names normally, but it’s not ideal if I wish to make notes about their development and how they fit into the storyline. Grateful for any advice.

I’ve tried a lot of different tacks on this, but have settled on Project Notes, which are always available without shuffling through the binder, and can be readily viewed either in the Sidebar or in a floating window. I’ll make as many separate Project Note files as seems to fit the project du jour–always one with the overall story synopsis, another with a list of characters with brief pertinent info (hair color, birth-date, degree of insanity, whatever), another with changes to make next draft, etc. More in-depth character and location stuff I still stick down in Research-folder-land, but with time I’ll probably migrate ever more of that into various flavors of Project Notes.

That’s helpful, thanks a lot. I am also on the lookout for a good outliner or mindmapper (I have posted separately about this).

Personally I keep my master list of characters in the Keywords, in groups.

I keep notes about individual characters in the Characters Folder in the Binder. A separate doc for each Character.

Also, if I flesh out the character information/characteristics while I am writing in the body of the book I copy/paste that back into my Character Note, so that I remember what I have said about that character … in case I contradict myself later :blush:

Three places:

  1. Character templates in research
  2. jumbled in my head
  3. stuck to the wall so I can just look up and realize how much I messed up a particular piece i was working on.

I always keep a list of character documents in the binder. I also create keywords for each character (two per; one for presence of a character, one for mention of), and I tag all relevant documents, including the character document. The keywords make it easy to do a quick search and find the summary of my character plus all the scenes where she appears. The documents let me keep track of details (background, physical attributes, baseline attitude, snippets of dialogue, etc…). I keep the character documents near the top of the binder so that searches result in the summary as the first document followed by story dialogue.

Another reason I like keeping character documents is that I can procrastinate by casting actors in the roles of my characters. I paste a head shot of the actor into the synopsis area which shows up on the cork board when the text “side” of the synopsis is blank.

Finally, having a list in both the binder and the keywords pane gives me two lists to pick from, each of which can be visible when I’m using one of those interfaces for other purposes.

Thanks, Robert, that’s useful. Not sure I understand everything - but you are saying you just make separate documents about each character and keep them were - in a folder separate from the manuscript in progress, or a separate Scrivener document. Also I have no idea how to do tags in Scrivener.

I keep them in a “Characters” folder. I put that folder above the Manuscript/Draft folder because I reference the list of characters frequently at first (I’m bad with names, even when I come up with them myself), and having them at the top helps me scroll to that list pretty easily.

I “tag” all documents that contain info about a character with Scrivener keywords. Sorry about that; “tag” and “keyword” in a Scrivener context are synonyms in my head. I sometimes forget that only a few of us live inside my head.

That’s helpful. Please thank the others who live inside your head for me, also.

Between you and vic-k, it’s a wonder there’s room for the rest of us (mercy help us all if it turns out we’re all in there too).

P.S. I like the idea of character briefs above the draft. That’s the sort of thing I probably would work out eventually, most likely several months after the need arose.

Ha, ha, ha. Us writers have very spacious brains…room for all.


Am I narrow minded?

If not for your typically on-point explanations, quips, and the generally focused nature of your words, I would have assumed that a person of headless persuasion would be a bit…

puts on sunglasses
scatter brained

I especially like how this arrangement works when I search on a character’s keywords; that character’s brief will always show up as the first document, so long as I don’t restrict the search to just the Manuscript folder.


Nom, I’ve been using Scrivener for years. But I haven’t a clue how to attach keywords to characters or anything else for that matter. Can you give me a walkthrough that?

Section 5e of the Interactive tutorial covers this. Maybe with your level of familiarity with Scrivener, you can skip the rest of the tutorial and go straight there. You can create a new tutorial project either from the templates chooser, or from Help->Interactive Tutorial.

Robert’s the man with the plan here. Most of my work in Scrivener, NIAD not withstanding, has been academic with little need for fancy bells & whistles like character sheets. I’ve saved a few of his posts over the years - this is likely to be another.

But this tip is worth repeating…