Feedback Wanted: How do you structure your Scriv projects?

Which of the following structures do you use in your Scrivener projects?

  • Book with Parts and Chapters: Parts folders containing Chapter folders containing text documents acting as scenes/sub-sections
  • Book with Parts and Chapters: Parts folders containing text documents that each serve as a whole chapter
  • Book with Chapters: Chapter folders containing text documents acting as scenes/sub-sections
  • Book with Chapters: A bunch of text documents that each serve as a whole chapter
  • Screenplays/scripts - a bunch of text documents each serving as one or more scenes
  • Screenplays/scripts - other structure
  • Essay or document using one of Scrivener’s template formats
  • Other (please describe in a reply)

0 voters

Hi all,

I’m currently looking at some of the areas of Scrivener’s interface that could be simplified. (Not dumbed-down, mind - I’m not interested in removing features, only in making existing features easier to access.) One of those areas is Compile. We tried to do this not long ago by introducing the “Summary” pane, which presents you with only the most commonly-used Compile features. However, I’ve had some ideas about how to make that pane even more useful.

The “All Options” pane is going to stay - it’s important that users can take complete control over the Compile process, even though the options available are necessarily complex in order to allow for any project structure. However, I’m thinking of modifying the “Summary” pane to make it much more of a one-stop place for new users, so that users who are compiling using common project structures won’t need to play around with the full power of Compile unless they really want to.

As part of this, Scrivener will need to ask the user for a hint as to the structure of the project. I’d therefore like to get some idea of the sorts of structures that people use in their Scrivener projects, and would thus be grateful if as many people as possible could take this poll or reply to this thread.

For book-length works, these are what I assume would be the most common structures:

Parts folders containing Chapter folders containing text documents acting as scenes/sub-sections:

Parts folders containing text documents that each serve as a whole chapter:

Chapter folders containing text documents acting as scenes/sub-sections:

A bunch of text documents that each serve as a whole chapter:

I’d love to get a better idea of the sorts of structures that people are using, though.

Thanks for taking part!

All the best,

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All of my “folders” are basically text documents that contain the introduction to the part or chapter (or whatever level of subdivision I need – for academic writing). I then nest sections and subsections within these text files. This is one of my favourite features in Scrivener.

What’s hard about this is there’s the format I prefer (folders for chapters, files for scenes), and the format I have to use (one long list of files, usually as scenes, with a folder acting as a spacer) so that the current iPad apps (text editors, index cards, etc.) can see all of the files in the export. This isn’t a plug for the iPad app (already accomplished on twitter this quarter, thanks DJ!), just pointing out that formats can be skewed for the tools we use when we’re away from our computers :smiley:

I don’t know if this would be feasible or useful, but I think it would help illustrate what levels of the compile settings affect which folders/documents if there were a view of both the Draft folder from the binder and the formatting pane. Clicking on anything in the binder would highlight the formatting line that affects it (or a pop-up would remind the user that it’s marked “compile as is”?). Similarly, clicking on any of the rows from the formatting pane would highlight all of the binder documents affected by it. I think something like this would go a long way toward helping people learn what a “Level 1+” document means. With that kind of view, it would also become clear that the “back matter” documents are affected by the same setting that the scene documents are.

It wouldn’t necessarily simplify the creation of a compile set-up that the user has in mind though. :confused:

I normally do chapter folders with text documents…but using folders to organize chapters is a really good idea. (I’ve been using collections to do that.)

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Great idea.

Perhaps Scrivener could allow the user to tick a box indicating that ‘the binder structure reflects the document structure’ and then choose which headings to apply. I say this because at the very end I often reshuffle, merge, etc. different text documents so as to reflect the structure of the document whereas while I’m writing that generally isn’t the case. When I have to compile in the middle of the writing process (for instance when collaborating with a MS Word user) I introduce the structure in MS Word myself so that the structure in my project remains untouched.

If you are having a general rethink of the compile dialogues, I’d like to humbly ask that you look at Compiling from Collections as well. I’d like to be able to have the file at a different “level” in the Collection than it is in the main Binder. After all, [one of] the point[s] of Collections is to be able to put things in experimental different places. That might require different formatting.

But on topic: I use a template with Folders for Parts and Chapters, and doc for scene / sub-units, and then an extra level for highlighted or quoted text. So the following text output:

Is driven by the following Binder structure:

Note for personal stuff(*) I’ll use this same Part / Chapter structure, even if I have no intention of using Parts in the final work (I just untick the level 1 folders from inclusion in the compile pane).

(*) for NiaDs and similar, I’ll remove them to avoid confusion.

I checked the screenplay boxes. If I ever compile the novel I’ll let you know.

I use Scrivener for writing novels and create Chapter folders containing text documents acting as scenes/sub-sections.

I’m not. :slight_smile: I’m just looking at rethinking the “Summary” pane, and finding a way to get Scrivener to help choose the best versions of the presets for the project at hand. The options won’t change, I’m just looking at providing a quicker and easier entry point that doesn’t necessitate the user wading through all of the available options.

Whilst I understand that in Scrivener, folders can be text documents, I do find that a little confusing. I don’t like writing ‘on’ folders. Mind you, that could be because when I used to work for a High Street bank the loans officers used to scribble across folders practical information like “Don’t lend this ******* any more money!” which can be a tad difficult if the customer happens to see this. So, it was drummed into us, NEVER write anything on a folder. And that’s sort of stuck with me.

So for novels I write scenes that are text documents, which I file in the appropriate chapter folder. Sometimes I use Part folders and file the chapter folders inside them.

Looking through my other projects I see I use this system for most of my other large projects (non-fiction books, and I have just finished writing some correspondence course material, using a similar system, with text documents inside subject folders (eg Chapters), and several subject folders inside a Module folder (eg Parts).

I have a couple of Project files where my articles and short stories are stored. But again, folders are for storing things in. Smaller projects, such as articles or short stories, are saved inside their own folder, which is then saved inside a folder of the year they are created.

Sorry, I realise I’ve been wittering on here. Does this help at all? Essentially, folders are for storing things in, which means, when in the Compile mode, ticking three folders to print the first three chapters is dead handy!

When I write screenplays in Scrivener, I often have a strict folder hierarchy even past the scene level. I’ll sometimes have a folder representing a scene, and several text documents representing functional parts of a scene (what writers call “beats.”)

This allows me to address the scene in a structural/functional way, and later rewrite it into some nice pages.

Scrivener is the only current screenwriting tool that allows me this kind of organizational granularity.

Yay, Scrivener!

In that case, I’m not really sure what the problem is with your current Summary tab. Am I missing the point here? :confused:

It won’t come as a surprise to you that the compile presets and the binder structure go hand in hand. Perhaps a bit of tidying of the presets so that it’s obvious that Presets A, B and C are set up to work with Project Template 1 (but not anything else). Is it possible to code it so that the summary page knows which template you’ve based your project on, and so ordered the compile presets accordingly?

Unless what you are asking is: “We are planning to redesign our Project Templates, what would people find useful?”

Let me clarify:

At the moment, we have separate “Format As” presets for “Paperback Novel” and “Paperback Novel (with Parts)”, and for “E-Book” and “E-Book (with Parts)”, and for “Standard MS Format” and “Standard MS Format (with Parts)” and suchlike. These assume you are either writing Parts/Chapters/Scenes or Chapters/Scenes - if you write whole chapters in each text document, then you have to toy with the settings a little.

As I said in my first post, I assume that most users, for book-length projects, use one of four structures.

So, what I’m thinking of doing is reorganising the “Summary” pane (probably renaming it to “Quick Compile”, too, and having it provide some sort of option that, for certain compile presets (“Paperback”, “Manuscript”, “E-book” and suchlike), asks users to choose which of those four options best describe their structure. It could then choose the best variation of the preset automatically. (The option wouldn’t be available for unique presets designed to work with only a particular structure.)

I’m therefore trying to determine whether this would be as useful as I think. If the majority of users working on book-length texts use one of those four structures, then this will indeed be a very useful addition. If there’s such a variation of structure that everyone seems to use something different, it becomes less useful.

At any rates, I’m just interested in the way users structure their texts - I’m not asking for feedback on Compile in general or for suggestions about changing it.


I like this idea, actually…

Yes, lots, thanks!

(I tend to write notes inside folder text, which then doesn’t get compiled in the final document, but might be compiled in an intermediate, draft text. It also, before 2.0, used to be the place to add chapter headers and subtitles, but there are different ways of doing that these days.)

I haven’t done a book or essay with parts and chapters yet. But I am writing one with chapters and appendices (which function like chapters). Each chapter is a folder (no writing in it, that’s too confusing), and within that I add texts which function as parts of the chapter. These texts may end up as sub-titled sections within the chapter, or they may eventually just be compiled to flow as one.

For an essay, each text will end up as a subtitled section within the essay, i.e. Title page, Abstract, X, Y, Z, Conclusion, Bibliography.

In that case, don’t forget the “ice cream. 55 flavors” level.

Is that how feedback works? :smiley: I’ll use that in my next performance appraisal.

Novels start as a long list of individual idea text files that I play with on corkboard (like a next-level mind map). This turns into chapts (folders) and scenes (text files). Critical to my writing process are my “old” folders, which are duplicates of working folders that are made prior to a major rethinking; having this local backup frees me to rip things apart and experiment. I also keep “outtake” folders with files that hold bits I like that are currently out of the mix but which I’m holding in reserve in case a spot opens up.

One thing I found annoying about the current presets (Windows version, anyway) is when doing an E-book wit Kindle (.mobi) output there wasn’t any provision for indicating which file is the cover. I had to go into Custom to set that file.

If you could have that option appear when the above combination is selected it would simplify things for new users.