chop up a chapter into paragraphs?

When I first started writing, years ago, I would type out my work and then tear pages in half or even quarters to move things around. I’m working on a difficult chapter right now for which that method is appropriate. I want to see each paragraph or selected group of paragraphs laid out in front of me. I’ve got two screens on my computer, so theoretically it could be done in Word, etc. But I’m wondering if there’s a way to do it quickly, without elaborate cut and paste, using Scrivener. I want to select a paragraph and give it its own scrap of paper and then move it around or put it aside. The freeform cork board seems made for this, except I don’t know how to:

  1. select and transfer text except by creating new subdocs using cut and paste
    or how to:
  2. See ALL text on a given index card.
    Is there some other way to accomplish this???

Well, index cards aren’t really meant for showing you the text of the item, but rather the hand-crafted summary of the text. With paragraph-length items however, you might be able to get away with selecting all of the paragraph cards and using the Documents/Auto-Generate Synopses menu command. This is a one-time command that copies the first bit of text into the synopsis field (front of card), so it won’t stay up to date, but that might be good enough for know what is what.

As for getting a chapter into paragraphs, you could go about it two ways. One would be to make use of the Cmd-K and Opt-DownArrow shortcuts. The former splits a document at the cursor, and the latter jumps down a paragraph. So you could just alternate between those two keys and split up a chapter fairly quickly. You might want to toss a Fn-Delete in there to get rid of the empty line after splitting. I’d recommend using Scrivenings mode to do this. The reason being, when splitting in Scrivenings mode, you don’t get asked to name the piece in the Binder. You’ll also get to see just how easy it is to work this way with an outline so chopped up like this. In fact, if you set your Scrivenings preferences in the Formatting preference pane to use single line breaks instead of the divider, the end result will look almost identical to a standard single editor display.

Once you’re done with that, hit Cmd-2 to jump to Corkboard view, select all of your cards to do the generate synopsis thing, switch to freeform view and mess with the settings until you have a nice card size showing you a representative chunk of the paragraph.

When you’re done solving the riddle of this complex chapter, you could use the Documents/Merge command to bring them all back together into one piece, into groups of pieces as scenes—or even leave them that way if you find working in Scrivenings to be okay for what you need.

The alternate method would be to use the File/Import/Import and Split... menu command, and entering a carriage return as your split criteria. Each paragraph would come in as its own document. You’ll of course need an external RTF file for this, so just export the current chapter to RTF using File/Export/Files.... This method should work great for novels and such. It would probably not be as good for non-fiction with lists, tables and figures.

Amber, as usual, you’re the BEST. Thanks.