Corkboard and Outline

It’s a newbie question, even though I’ve written many thousands of words with Scrivener. And I thought that over time I would figure this out, but I haven’t.

How do I organize my stories (these are non-fiction weekly newspaper columns) so that the Cork and Outline features make usable sense?

I know that these would help me tremendously as I embark on a non-fiction reference book.


For my academic writing, I use the corkboard to display notes taken from the reference materials I am working from. Mostly these consist of quotes taken from experimental research articles. The corkboard is on one editor pane, and the other holds the text I am writing. I have not yet decided how or if the outline view helps me for this kind of writing. Here’s what it looks like with the Scrivener window stretched across my MBP and an external monitor:

Thanks for the great picture! I love the way people have adapted S to the way they work.

I should have known that there is no ‘correct’ way to use Outline and Cork, something I really appreciate in Scrivener.

Here is what I am trying to do: I’m writing a reference book on Zone 9-11 plant material. There is a lengthy introduction with many disparate topics and subtopics and to tell the truth I don’t know yet what is ‘in’, or ‘out’, or what order all of these grafs and essays should follow.

It’s the way I write, sloppy as it is: letting an ‘outline’ develop as the words continue to spew. Partly this is because I don’t know yet if some ideas should be contained or become a topic.

I am convinced that S has the features that I need were I only sufficiently possessed of intellectual flexibility.

Anyone else working on a similar Situation and have some advice?

Many fiction writers work this way; it’s called chunk writing.

My approach is to write chunks first, and to loosely pile them into Scrivener. I might have a handful of ‘chapters’ (really just containers for related ideas) with some scenes in each. I might have them in some kind of order, or they might just be a random sequence.

Once I begin to get a sense of how I want to organize the material, I do some simple dragging and dropping in Scrivener (in the binder, but you could do it with index cards or the outline, I assume) to organize the chapters. If a given scene seems out of place, I will create a new chapter for it, or move it to an existing chapter.

As I continue to write more material, I gradually shift from random chunks to filling in known holes in the manuscript, and at some point I finally have a working outline.

The real work is done in my head; I just re-organize scrivener content to match my (current) idea of the flow.