Freeform corkboard - arranged index cards now completely jumbled

Isn’t most of the binder organized in the proper order for your story. If so and we’re playing with possible different arrangements if open corkboard and go free form not every card will have to be moved and hopefully can reproduce quickly could do screenshots of corkboard as additional backup to capture your flow. Scapple might be another way to look at this as well

When you say it looked like someone picked up the corkboard cards and threw them on the floor—how literal is that statement? Do you mean the grid of cards is out of order, or they are actually scattered all around and no longer in a grid?

If so… you’re fine! Just use the View ▸ Corkboard Options ▸ Freeform menu toggle to switch things back to grid view. Freeform lets you move cards around like you would on a desk, with no limits. And as such that doesn’t do anything to their actual order, it’s just a way of visualising them. You can make a pile over here that represents proofed sections, and throw them on the pile as you work, or arrange them by sub-plot—anything you might do on a chalkboard or with actual index cards on a wall.

Vincent, GoalieDad and AmberV - thank you for taking the time to make suggestions. Unfortunately, I think I’m out of luck.

Originally, the cards were created based on loose scenes, mostly based on where clues needed to be planted (mystery story). I moved the cards around a LOT to get the structure worked out. So the cards/scenes were never listed in the correct order in the Binder. My plan had been to do that today, moving the documents in the Binder to match up with my final outline.

When I said the cards looked like they’d been thrown up in the air, I was being literal. Picture a deck of cards all dumped into a pile at the center of a table - that’s what my “outline” looks like today. No grid. When I switched to the grid per Amber’s suggestion, it just laid them out as they were listed in the Binder, which like I said, hadn’t been properly ordered yet.

I really appreciate everyone’s trying to help me recover the original layout (including Tech Support), but nothing is working. I put some of it back together today, but I know it’s not the way I had it Friday and I’m honestly quite down about it. This story has been fighting me anyway; this really killed the positive momentum I had going into this week.

Thanks again.

Hmm, I’m not sure what could cause them to jumble like that. The way the software stores the position of cards is in such a way that each card knows where it should be (sorta, but that’s close enough to reality to think of it that way). So even if you were to create a brand new folder and drag a bunch of arranged cards into it, realise its in grid view still, and switch it on—you should find they are all where they should be, where they were in the previous corkboard.

There may be some condition that would cause that to fail, but I suspect it would be a bug, as I can’t think of any intentional condition where that would happen. It’s unfortunately probably a difficult one to encounter, but if you do, we could maybe take a look at if you’re willing to send some samples. We could probably do so in a way that involves just looking at the binder settings (where freeform card positions are stored, as well as numerous project settings) from one or two backups as well as the scrambled one, rather than the whole project, but we can advise on that if it gets to that point.

Two things that might help:

There’s an option to place a counter on the Index Cards, but that might be in Binder order.


You can commit the order of the Cards automatically, you don’t have to do that by hand. Of course, you only want to do that when they’re in the correct order…


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That’s very helpful! I wasn’t aware that was an option (obviously, lol). Thank you!

The problem does feel very buggy, but of course, if I’m the only one who has had this problem, that says something about me, lol. The reason it feels buggy is because I had been working on this file for a couple days, moving cards around on the corkboard, and didn’t change any settings, etc. All was fine until suddenly it wasn’t. Thank you for trying to help.

Off the top of my head, it is a new problem! That doesn’t mean it is anything you did wrong though, more like you found a unique sequence of actions or settings that can cause it, that is difficult enough for most people to never encounter it. That’s why it would help to see a sequence of backups where it works and then doesn’t work, as we might be able to tease out what is going on from that—if it is settings related.

By “settings” I mean that in a very broad way, not so much preferences or obvious switches. In this sense of the word, even making your window wider is a setting. It is the kind of thing most wouldn’t think about, but the fact that your project loads up the same size you left it at means it is, in a literal sense, a setting.

Anyway, sorry you ran into this, whatever happened!

You are getting the attention of the gurus for this unfortunate situation.

that being said i am concerned how you backup. you do not say exactly how you do so. the best way is to rely on Scrivener’s built in backup that will fire (as you set in preferences) on open and/or close of the project. it is these zip files that would be good candidates to copy to a USB thumb drive, not the whole project. And doing a file/save as all the time could lead to you forgetting what the current version.

Hope this helps.

Okay, I see what you mean by “settings” in a broader sense. Unfortunately, I don’t have the backups that would’ve been extremely helpful in diagnosing.

I really don’t know when I turned off the auto backups, but it was definitely a carry-over from a previous project. Kinda’ wish you had to opt out of auto backups whenever you start a new project - I hope I would’ve realized at that point to turn them back on! I guess I need a better work flow, and to tape said work flow to my forehead.

Yes, I see now that the auto backups would’ve been extremely helpful and are a smarter way to go. That was a lack of Scrivener experience on my part.

They are turned on now, and I’m writing a LARGE note that tells me not to turn them off. Thanks!

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You can’t do this, but you can sorta do the reverse, which is to turn off backups for individual projects.

File > Options > Backup = Global backup settings (applies to all projects)

Project > Project Settings > Backup = Project-specific backup settings (applies to only the specific project)

So next time you want to temporarily turn backups off for one project only, do it from Project Settings for that project.



That is a very handy thing to know. Thank you, Jim!

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If this may contribute a little, here is how I go about my backups :

Inked2022-04-05 17_54_04-Window_LI
is how I handle my snapshots.
(You can also see that my projects auto-save after 5 seconds of inactivity, so I don’t ever have to bother with a manual save per se.)

And as of the backups themselves, rather than having the operation linked to a manual save or to whenever I open and/or close a project, I use the “Back up Now” menu command.
Which I have as a button on my toolbar :

On an average day, I’ll do between 10 and 20 backups for a project.

These manual backups automatically end up in a folder on my desktop, named “Novel backups”.
Whenever I feel like I progressed enough to justify it, I copy the most recent backup to a thumb drive that is connected to my computer through a hub that has switches. (I usually do this when leaving the house for a while. Or whenever, like I said, I feel like my recent progress is worth it…) I switch it back off right after the file transfer. (No need to have it accessible all the time, if something one day goes wrong, might as well spare me the trouble of having my thumb drive messed up as well.)

And finally, as part of my routine, when the day is over, I upload the very last backup of the day (from my desktop backup folder “Novels backups”) of whatever projects I worked on since last upload to my cloud backup.
This or these backups (the local original copies) then go to a folder named “Archived”, located inside the “Novel backups” folder that is on my desktop.
I delete whatever other backups I cumulated during the day from the “Novels backups” folder.
Once or twice a month, I add the content of the “Archived” folder to an external SSD drive, and empty the “Archived” folder from my computer. (That external drive is dedicated to backups and storage, and is also disconnected until next time after the operation.)

So this way, I have a temporary backup on my thumb drive (short term protection), but also, and at all time, at least 2 other places where my real backups (the last one of each day’s work) can be recovered from, if needed.

To be in trouble, I would need :

  1. To lose/break/get my computer stolen ; and
  2. to lose/break/get my thumb drive stolen ; and
  3. to lose/break/get my SSD drive stolen ; and finally, on top of all that,
  4. some hacker to burn Google down to the ground.

All of which in a single day…

I feel pretty safe :wink:
→ And none of that requiring much of my time to handle. (About 3 minutes at the end of each writing day.)

Yeah, that’s understood, I meant all of this more in a future-tense sense. If this happens again, then we can better look into the sequence of results that may have lead to it happening. I know we can’t this time, because the backup you were making was “yesterday’s copy” so to speak, and thus had the same flaw as “today’s”, so there wouldn’t be any data to help us understand it.

Thank you for sharing the details of your system, Vincent.

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Understood. Thank you, Amber.

Laurie, you’ve gotten a lot of advice, and it doesn’t seem the situation is directly recoverable. The backup advice is surely your protection against any kind of unexpected occurances.

Here’s one more idea. I don’t lay out episodes like you do for clues, etc., but I’ve been trying another program that’s been recently updated, and itself feels very clean. This is Aeon Timeline 3, a big upgrade over previous versions, which you can look over here:

It’s got some interesting alternatives for visualizing or otherwise keeping track of structure, which you can see examples of here: I’d pay particular attention to the Narrative view and how it differs from the Timeline; and also the Subway view could be interesting:

Here’s their try at explaining some different ways one might use it, if you started a project in Aeon, and otherwise afterwards.

You’ll see that it has two-way syncing with Scrivener, which allows creating a full skeleton for a story, as I think you are doing, and then you can also add elements or rearrange them later, with Scrivener keeping up. In the same way, it can take on a Scrivener project you already have.

I’m trying to think how to use it with clues, as I’m not writing mysteries; at least I think not :). I guess those would show up as being found during events, like any other events, and this fits their fundamental idea of things that happen.

And after a little playing, I realized I could use Tags, which become Keywords in Scrivener, to denote Clues. And could use another tag to name them specifically, so you could track a clue that moves or is seen multiply. Filtering on Tags will show just those items in any view of Aeon, while Keyword Search will give you a list of related texts in Scrivener.

I’m working with Aeon a bit slowly, considering whether I want or need this kind of tool for another sort of fiction I work on, so no direct recomment.

But you could get their free trial, which includes among sample projects a layout of a portion of Agatha Christie’s Orient Express – as I recall open for you to put in relationships you want, as this is, I understand by now, how they sensibly see the app used, just noting relationships you’d like to have in view.

If it sounds complicated, it is, a little, but you could judge if a just-what-I-need approach would be a help for you. And there are tools like Relationships which at a level might turn out to be pretty useful too.

I’m just noticing Aeon has its own backups, which work much the same as Scriveners, giving a record of how you’ve been working with its structures. And what it interchanges with Scrivener is kept to just those things which give structuring ability, plus the card titles and synopses, so this keeps things simple enough that one can believe it will be reliable.

One last thing is that Aeon has a very nice iPhone/iPad app. It does need a view scaling (like Zoom in Scrivner), I realized, to let you see as much as possible on a screen on the iPad, a suggestion I’m going to make in their forum.

Hope this wasn’t too much – I was looking for myself also, and anyway, you can see if it attracts you, on your own time of course :slight_smile:

Once again, this isn’t a recommendation, just an exploration…


Thank you very much for the exploration/recommendation and all the info. I’d been looking for a software that was more timeline-based for outlining - amusingly, the interwebs had recommended Scrivener. (“I already have that - yay!”… two seconds later, my outline went through a blender on puree. Sigh.) Aeon looks promising. Thanks again.

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Thank you for this! I don’t know yet if this is something new since I last was working in Scrivener 1.9Win, or something I had previously overlooked, but I will surely be using it it the future! Exactly what I need. :blush:

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