From Pages of text to Chapters - Formatting help

Hi, I 'm a brand new writer.

I just finished a rough draft of my first sci-fi novel. I had zero idea how to do it I just started typing and typing and I think you get the point. I wrote this whole story with no planning, it was a continous stream of texts no chapters, only basic formatting.

My question: What is the best way to take a few hundred page “Pages” document and begin making into a formatted book with chapters and the like?

If I use scrivener should I import the entire pages document into the program and cut it up there or is there a smarter way to do it.

Thanks a lot for any feedback


I would export from Pages to Word first, and then import that, but yes. Scrivener is designed to work with “chunks,” so you’ll definitely be happier if you use Scrivener to do the splitting.

If you have any kind of delimiter between chapters, you can use Scrivener’s Import and Split command. If not, you can use Document → Split as needed.

I would definitely recommend using Split rather than Cut/Paste. Much less error prone, especially when you’re working with an entire manuscript.

Thank you!

I’m starting the chunking process right now… also pulling my hair out. This is going to take a while :slight_smile:

You might consider chunking into scenes first and then figure which groups of these should be a chapter. (A canonical way of organizing is to use Binder folders in Scriv to group scene docs into chapters. Lots of other ways to go, but that is one.)

Congrats on finishing that draft!

This is one of those things everyone seems to do differently, and you are wise to ask about it early on. I wish I had, because it took me ages to work out why what I was doing wasn’t working for me.

It’s worth spending time thinking about this part of the process, and trying different approaches, because it will save you huge amounts of time later on.

I agree wholeheartedly with GR: chunk into scenes. And, if you have multiple narrative arcs, I would suggest grouping scenes by arc; perhaps not for the whole story, but in temporal chunks: hours, days, weeks, each time-jump, etc.

(On a personal note, I would avoid bothering with, or even thinking about, chapters till w-a-y down the line. When you think about it, chapters are a publishing artefact rather than a writing artefact, and as you know, many books do not have them at all.

Scrivener makes all of this easy, of course. Better still, it allows you to experiment, so that you can find what works for you safe in the knowledge that nothing will be lost.

Expanding on that:
(My personal view, nothing more.)

Take notes on the process itself. (Not stuff from “How to write” books. – YOUR experience through YOUR current approach.) Re-evaluate and take new notes with every new book / short-story / whatever you write.
Even if it is over the course of 50 years ; that doesn’t matter. It’ll help if you are trying to figure out the best way to dive into a new book confident that your approach is not gonna be that damn “something” to slow you down.
You’ll eventually come to realize that each draft has its own set of objectives. Its purpose, beyond simply revision/rewrite. What matters? What matters when? Why now, why at the second draft more than at the first? Questions only you can answer. Because the idea is to have the perfect approach for YOU. And there is only one YOU. — (The usage you make of Scrivener should comply with that. Not the other way around.)

I personally have found out that it is actually impossible to write faster. (Books claiming such are 100% bullshit, if you ask me. – Or throw quality out the window.)
On the other hand (my take on the matter) : you can’t write faster, but you sure can waste less time working on the wrong things at the wrong moment.


thanks everyone for the replies