From corkboard to completion

I’m busy witing my second novel in Scivener, but I keep getting confused with corkboard cards and text workflow.

For example, I jotted down a six-card outline of the novel. Fine. But then I tried to open each card separately and got a blank page. Although I could see the contents of the card on the right hand pane, I thought it should be showing in the main panel. Then I clicked the elipsis (three dots) on the card, and my summay disappeared. Then I realised the elipsis auto-generated a summary from the main text.

I just can’t figure out the most intuitive way to work with that. What I want to do is this, so if you can help I would appreciate it:

  1. Create cards for random thoughts, scenes, plot turns, and main storyline.
  2. Open any card and create subsets of that card, in corkboard or text view, to write scenes, dialogue and so on related to the top card (for example, if the book has three main sections, a group of chapters, then scenes for each section).
  3. Be able to shuffle the cards
  4. Be able to click back and forth between corkboard, text and outline view.

Some of this I can understand, but things which I thought would happen automatically don’t. Can anyone help?

First of all you might want to know that in Scrivener every document you create in the binder is

  1. a document (duh)
  2. a card on a corkboard
  3. a corkboard/outline.

All are simply different views of the same file. Every view has it’s own uses. you can switch between views using the “Outliner” or “Corkboard” buttons in the toolbar.

The synopsis in the inspector or on the card is separate from the contents of the file, which is a good thing since you don’t always want your synopsis to be the same as the contents in the file. As you figured out, clicking on the ellipsis will autogenerate a synopsis for you.

There are many ways you can rearrange files. You can either drag cards around on the corkboard, or you can do the same in the Binder or Outliner. It might be important to notice, that Corkboard and Outliner always show you the structures inside the item you have selected in the Binder. If you want to see all your documents in Corkboard or Outliner view, simply select the “Draft” item in the Binder. Please notice that files in the Research or Trash folder will not be shown.

For a comprehensive (and mistake free) introduction to Scrivener please refer to the tutorial and the help files. All your questions are also answered in there.

Think of the contents of an index card as the synopsis for a document. It isn’t the content of the file, but a short summary of it. When you are laying out the structure of your book and writing into cards, it is just like using regular index cards on a regular corkboard. The main text area is for when you put a sheet of paper in the typewriter and bring an index card to fruition.

Another concept to grasp is that Corkboard and Outliner views are simply different ways of looking at the same thing. When you select something in the binder, or double click on it in the corkboard, you can view its text content in the editor, or you can view its children using one of the other two views. The index card is just the most visible part of the document. Think of it as a cover page. Along with the card (synopsis) the title, and the text content area, the Inspector also has a bunch of other bits of information that come along with each “file” in the Binder. You can have a note sheet for each document, for instance, keywords, and so on. You can ease into these features as you grow comfortable with them. Just try to visualise a card as being the visible component of a integral part of your novel—the tab on a filing folder that is full of clippings and drafts.

Note: I’ve been using the beta version for so long, I don’t even remember what 1.03 is like, so the rest of this discusses the way things look in the current beta version. I recommend you use the beta, too. It is actually more stable than 1.03 at this point. If you do go that route, heed the warnings to not run both versions at once! The project format has been updated and you can cause serious problems trying to open

Part of what might be confusing to you is Scrivener’s default navigation settings. By default, it will switch modes depending on what you’ve selected in the Binder. If you select a folder, a Corkboard opens, if you select an index card (or file, literally) it switches to editor mode. Open up your Preferences, go to the Navigation tab, and poke around in there. You might find that you can change the way Scrivener works to your liking. Notice you can save preference presets too, at the bottom of this panel. Perhaps in the planning stages of the book, you’ll want Scrivener to act one way, but in a more default way when actually writing or editing later on. You can easily set up operating modes using preference sets.

If you want the application to act like a nested corkboard, where clicking on a card opens up an empty corkboard where you can add scenes or other elements to that card, try turning off the top option “Automatically switch back to editor mode…”

Now once you switch to Corkboard mode, it should stay that way no matter where you click. Note you’ll get a lot of empty boards with this option. :slight_smile: You can shuffle cards around. If you want to see two corkboards at once, you can open a split and move cards in between splits. It is all very flexible. The default settings assume that when you click on a card, though, that you are ready to start typing book content into that part of the novel.

So to follow in your list of wants:

  1. Just click on Draft in the Binder, if you don’t get a corkboard, press Cmd-2. You can make new cards by simply pressing the enter key. This is very handy when you are trying to get a bunch of ideas down really fast. Just hit enter, type in the name, press tab and type your thoughts, then hit enter twice. Once to confirm and a second time to make a new card.

  2. If you navigation mode is set right, when you double click on the icon of an index card (or press Cmd-Opt-O), you’ll get an empty corkboard that represents the contents of the previous card. With the Inspector open on the right, the current card is displayed for your reference. Repeat step 1 to expand this card.

  3. Just click and drag! If you want to move cards up or down in the hierarchy, it might be easy to use the Binder for that, Outliner mode, or split views so you can see multiple corkboards at once.

  4. There are two keyboard shortcuts for this: Cmd-1 access outliner, Cmd-2 the corkboard. You can also use the buttons in the toolbar to toggle corkboard and outliner on and off. Just remember the editor is the “base”, and corkboard/outliner are special views for that base; ways to visualise your data. So to leave the corkboard, just toggle it off. Cmd-2 to leave corkboard, and so on.

Very helpful. It makes a lot of sense to me now. I like that idea of hitting enter to make new cards, for example. I tried some of this out and it;s working well for me. Thanks again.

One of the main ideas, too, is that you jot ideas down in the index card which you can then expand upon in the actual text.

Version 1.1 has a “Lock inspector” button, which will allow you to look work on a document in split screen whilst in the other view you can see the top-level document and its associated index card in the inspector, which may also help.

All the best,

Oh hey, that sounds interesting. Is that going to be tied into the “Dual Arrow” button which kind of turns the interface into a 3-pane way of working, or will they operate independently?

P.S. to John. You might actually find that arrow button useful in your work, too. At the very bottom of the corkboard is a button with two opposing arrows. When that is turned on, you need only click once on a card once to expand it in a split view. This way you can easily work on two levels of cards.

The “lock inspector” button is just a padlock icon in the inspector’s footer view. I found that I wanted this feature when I was going through a lot of material. It’s nothing amazing, but I found it useful.

Wow. I was just using the split screen and thinking this would be handy to lock the Inspector hen transfering some document notes to a separate file. Had to keep clicking back and forth. No big deal but still. Can’t wait for 1.1 (or the next beta I suppose first, right?)