Compartmenting an imported draft for editing?

Hi all, I just subscribed to Scrivener to help redraft a fantasy novel written entirely in MS Word. This second version is not quite 300k words long in 75 (at last count) chapters – broken into six sections to manage things in my head. The only formatting separation in those chapters is an extra line or two between paragraphs.

Most of what I’ve seen in tutorials is how to start a manuscript in Scrivener. Less apparent is how to make sense of an imported work. The middle act has to be substantially redone. Most of the scenes will stay but not where they are now. People need to come and go at different times, intrigues, the occasional assassination – usual stuff.

Is there a tutorial or primer on how to break a monolithic book into usable bites so I can park an essential plot point and recall it when needed? Just excising it into identified bins would be a good start.

Thanks for your ideas, Skip

Two ways :

1 – On import :


It doesn’t have to be an RTF file. The same is doable with a docx file. (I just don’t have one.)
→ Use the option that best matches your original document. (Per outline vs. per symbol.)

2 – You can also use Ctrl-K to manually split the document at cursor position.
(You can use Find... (Ctrl-F) to search for return-return. (Your empty lines.))

. . . . . . . . . .
Once you’ve done your splits, these new binder elements are free to be moved around / reordered.

I haven’t tested with the Windows version, but the Mac version has some known issues with outline-driven splits. So be prepared to use symbols if splitting by outline doesn’t give the results you want.

You can also use the Document → Split command instead of, or in addition to, automated splits.

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend taking a look at our Interactive Tutorial, available from the Help menu. It’s a good overview of Scrivener’s fundamental operations and may have some insights on the best way to proceed.

I have been doing some halting training but now that this is ready for surgery I’ll commit. And I have no problem reading through all the material and physically marking the sections. It’s really only about ten chapters about half-way in that need the serious structural overhaul. One year, in particular, ought to be eliminated and what happens either reassigned or shown the door.

Thanks, Skip

See the manual (Help > Scrivener Manual), section 9.1.6 for the details on Import and Split.

It would also help you generally to work through the tutorial (Help > Interactive Tutorial). That will save you time in the long run, as Scrivener does some things much differently than Word and other writing tools you may have used.


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And for cases where Import and Split does not work out well, or doesn’t reach deep enough for what you want, the good old Documents ▸ Split submenu has two commands that can make quick work of your import, getting it down into useful bite-size chunks. At worst you might spend an afternoon of scrolling and hitting shortcuts. Tedious, but well worth the effort.