I’m looking at using Scrivener as my tool for doing a full re-write/revision/edit of my novel, and a lot of the features look awesome for that. However, there is one thing–what I’d plan to do is use the corkboard to go through and outline all the major events of the story (since I have it written, this is easy) so that I can go and fill in the actual chapter text later. But some events occur “off-screen”, and I still want them to show up on the corkboard, but I don’t want any real document attached to them.
The sort of thing like:
1 - Alice and Bob go to the store and buy some peanuts.
2 - (Off-screen) Carol tells Daria that Alice is cheating on Bob
3 - Daria confronts Alice about her cheating habits
I don’t want to actually have a scene in the book for #2 (for example), especially as that conversation might include information I still want to hide from the reader. But I still want to track when it occurs so I can keep the timeline straight in my head. As my actual novel has quite a few of these sorts of things occurring over its entirety, I’d love to be able to keep these sorts of notes.
Is there a way to do this? Is just having a blank document with a summary the way to go? Is there something other than the corkboard that would be more awesome for this?
Absolutely, Scrivener was designed with the realisation that an author’s own personal outline has only a vague connection with the structure of the book in terms of both its headings and its text content. So we have a front-line tool for storing not only pieces of information, but whole documents of notes right in your manuscript, interleaved where they are contextually appropriate. The trick is to open the Inspector and in the “General” section in the middle, disable the “Include in Compile” checkbox. This is a hard toggle which makes it so that “card” never compiles (unless you specifically tell the compiler to include everything—making it possible to print out everything if you wish), and since a card in Scrivener is really just a fancy way of giving a document a filename, any text typed into the editor for that card will also be excluded. This way you can include exhaustive chapter notes in such a way that they appear right in your Scrivenings session while writing the material itself. Some people like to use a different font for that, so it is obvious what is notes and what isn’t, others just like to use the Notes column in the Inspector, or type chapter notes all at the top in the folder that holds the scene/section files. Others like to record their notes as inline annotations right in the manuscript itself, or as sidebar comments. It is flexible which mixture of these features you choose to use, but you should find plenty of options for annotating the “meta” manuscript, as you write.
I do this all the time, so I can keep the timeline straight for events going on off-scene. I like to use a special character at the beginning of the title as a quick visual reference when skimming the binder/corkboard/outliner that the scene is off-camera. X or OS would work, but since I like to procrastinate, I spent a while going through the list of special characters to find a fun symbol. If you’ve got a lot of them you’ll want something you can enter quickly, however, which favors a quick X. There’s always copy/paste though, or something like AutoHotKey to quickly enter your fancy character.
You could also use labels for this and then enable options in the View > Label Color In > submenu so that these items have a special colour indicating they’re not compiling. My current big project has enough label colours already working that I didn’t want to add another for this, and I prefer the character method above, but you might find the labels handier.
Hm. Suppose I have chapters made up of multiple scenes. When I look at each chapter in corkboard mode, it shows me a card for each scene. However, when I go up to Draft, I only get one card for each chapter. Is there a way to instead show all the composite cards of a chapter, or do I have to provide a higher-level summary of all the scenes in aggregate for each chapter?
It looks like the Outline view kind of does this, but it expects each scene to have a title, which it may not, giving me a decent amount of empty space. (Or should I give scenes titles, since those titles won’t show up anywhere?)
(Ultimately, I’d like to be able to select the whole novel and see the full list of every event that occurs, since I have a one-event-per-scene sort of organization)
Whether to give a thing a title is up to you, personally I like to give everything a title for the reason you brought up: it leads to an emptiness of information in views where this information could otherwise be quite useful. At least in the case you have brought up, one has the linear order of things, and the structure of named things around them, to guess at what line is what scene—but imagine if you are running a search for all of the scenes that mention a certain minor character, to check for consistency or some such, and you are presented with a list of 30 empty rows in the search result list.
Precisely. The corkboard view is designed to present to you a single slice of the book, this can be more or less useful depending on how much depth you use in the outline—but consider how it would be useful to see a group of scenes if you are one like myself who breaks scenes down even further into tinier pieces. My chapters are dozens and dozens of sections—but I don’t always want to see that much detail. Sometimes I want to step back and just seen “scenes”. That is what the corkboard is for. In addition to the Outliner, which is designed for seeing detail and the big picture at once, you can also load entire sections of the binder into the corkboard at once, in a flat list.
Use the [b]Documents/Open/with All Subdocuments/on Editor Corkboard[/b].
Aha, excellent. Yes, I can definitely see sometimes wanting to get the higher level, and sometimes wanting the nitty-gritty. That option gives me exactly what I want!
The main thing with giving a title to every scene is either they are so generic as to be useless (“Alice talks with Bob”, which happens a dozen times), or they’re basically a summary in themselves (“Alice talks with Bob about Carol’s painting”).
To a certain extent, Scrivener–because it allows so much freedom of workflow–makes it such that I have to figure out what really is the best organization for me. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing
Yeah, I’m probably a bit weird in that I employ a memory technique for stuff like that where having a literal name would produce a title almost too generic to be worth typing in at all. I give scenes “random” names, or names which fixate on some specific prop or device in the scene, even if it only has a minor thing to do with that scene. So if I call something “cabbage head” or “dirt in the mouth”, I’ll have a much better time remembering what it is about because it is unique and still somewhat relevant. Anyway, little trick I use.
When I first wrote the novel, it was in blog posts, where each post was a scene, basically. So each scene ended up with a title. However, several of my beta readers pointed out that something like a third of the scene titles are like “Conversation between friends” and “Conversation in a barn”, which is not particularly useful.
Some of the other titles I plan on cribbing for real chapter titles now, and combining several scenes together to actually make worthwhile chapters.
Try looking for the conflict in each scene, even if it’s a silly one. “For want of a scone” might be for a scene taking place in a coffee house where a couple has a break-up scene, and the waitress doesn’t bring the scone that the MC’s (soon to be former) S.O. is fixated on.
My titles tend to be silly, but then I like making up silly titles, knowing that no one will ever see them in the final draft; they’re just there to jog my memory. Here’s a sampling from my current work in progress:
You can’t get there from here
Hello, new friend. Now DIE!
What does “biohazard” mean?
A long shadow
He’s not dead, Jim. <-There is no character named Jim in my story, btw, just a Star Trek reference)
If these walls could scream
One of us! One of us!
Come play. Forever, and ever…
With the POWER of my MIND!
I am the Keymistress
The nuclear option
Steve McQueen’s fast machine
I hope to have this short story cum novella’s rough draft finished before November. After I let it simmer for a couple of months, maybe I’ll return to it and remove all of the cringe-worthy bits and see if there’s a story left.