Compiling a list of Scenes using Scene Heading attribute

Hi there,
I would truly like to compile a list of scenes with a synopsis, but using the ‘Scene Heading’ attribute within the scene as the title. A compiled document would appear like this:

Jeremy gets frustrated with the inability to produce good summary output]

Jeremy goes outside and shouts at the flowers about it.

Of course, Scrivener does make it possible if you use the Scrivenings Title. So, I could manually rename all my scenes with their Scene Heading title to achieve the above. However, I’m keen to know if anyone has been able to pull out the Screen Heading attribute and use it as a title since this is a recognisable item.

When you export a Scrivener file to another system (most), other software is able to pick up what the scenes are simply by recognising them and you get a neat list of scenes simply from your Scene Headings.

I would be overjoyed and thrilled if anyone at least shares my desire for this. I don’t want to have to export to another system simply to get a summary list.

Much appreciated

No, actually, it doesn’t … since scrivenings is a view, not a document, so it has no title. You mean the document title.

Here’s an example of the many things you can do.

<$w> is the chapter number, <$title> is the document title (for the chapter folder in this case), and <$img:<$label>> is the image whose name is <$label> (based on the Label attribute). If “Screen Title” is a metadata field, you can use <$custom:Screen Title> in the Prefix or Suffix.

1 Like

There is a bit of an awkward corner here in that there is a setting, disabled by default, that will cause the placeholder title—what shows up when there is no actual title—to be used as a formal title when compiling. It’s in the Section Layouts pane, under the options button in the very top right corner.

So that, with the Scene Heading being at the very top of the item, would cause the scene heading to be used as the title. However, the awkward part is that these adaptive titles only pull from the main text area if there is no synopsis. They will use the first several words of the synopsis as the title if there is one, and in your case all of these items would have synopses. This is an effect you’ve probably seen in the binder itself.

As for the feature request itself, it wouldn’t be very easy to do that given Scrivener’s flexibility. From Scrivener’s point of view the “Scene Heading” is just a piece of formatted text found in the text area. One might have any number of them in a single text chunk (and then would they all use the same synopsis?), or maybe the text doesn’t even start with one. I suppose we could make it so the very first scene heading encountered is used for a title, but then you’d have missing scenes. We’d also be getting very specific with the code for something that is really, beneath the surface, full of variables.

Ultimately I think the best solution is to go for what is most straight-forward: name the individual items by their scene heading (which you can easily do by selecting that line and hitting the shortcut for Documents ▸ Auto-Fill ▸ Set Selected Text as Title.

1 Like

Wow, AmberV thank you for the excellent response, with a clear explanation of the caveats - and for fully understanding what I needed straight away - and for going further (e.g. the issue that would then arise from more than one scene in a document).

Thank you. I didn’t know about the ‘Set Selected Text as Title’. I’ve been using Scrivener for a while now and very impressed with how powerful it is.

Very much appreciated!

Hi drmajorbob - thanks for showing the attributes - very very helpful!
And thank you for the screenshot.
Much appreciated

Attributes? Do you mean placeholder tags?

Yes, sorry, you mentioned Label Attribute. But yes.
It still strikes me as strange that other software uses the Scene Headings as something that demarcates a ‘scene’ but you cannot access this within any Scrivener compile ‘project format’. I would expect that many script writers would like to see a compiled document that uses the Screen Headings as the ‘header’ with the ‘synopsis’ as a secondary bit of text. Be that as it may, I think I’ll need to work around it by renaming each scrivening or using the ‘set selected text as title’ feature.

thanks for the response!

Scrivener’s solution is to let you create a separate item in the Binder for each scene – or for whatever other manuscript division makes sense to you. Remember that Scrivener is a general purpose tool for many different kinds of writers, not a tool for scriptwriting specifically. “Scene Heading” is not a concept that Scrivener “understands.”

Hi thanks for that. It’s a pity, because the irony is if you export (via compile) using the default ‘Script or Screenplay’ using the Scrivener format, other software imports and understands all the ‘scenes’. Of course I realise this might also be because this software is ‘looking out’ for scene prefixes (INT or EXT).

It’s looking for the specific type of formatting that scene headings use, which is unique from other elements: the line spacing around it, left and right indent settings and so forth. All of the elements have unique properties, which is how it detects what they are in the editor as well, as indicated in the footer bar.

So it can find them—but what I was getting into above about the plethora of variables is that you can delete the Scene Heading element from your script settings. You can rename it and call it Purple Anvil. You can make three different scene heading elements that use different colours, for your own plot management purposes. How is Scrivener to know what you mean then, when you tick a checkbox that says “Use scene heading for section title”?

Yes, that makes a lot of sense. I suppose I assumed that the script variables (such as Scene Heading) were baked in, because they’re there by default in the script template, but I’m now understanding that these are simply variables and therefore Scrivener couldn’t have code that is reliant on a variable.
Thank you on the details provided.