great for organizing scattered thoughts

I just wanted to write and say how useful I’ve found Scrivener to be in organizing the novel I’m working on. I started working with Scrivener this afternoon and have made more progress in getting myself organized than I have in months. I’ve really found the outline feature invaluable.

I’ve been working on my book for about a year. It started out as a short story, which I did in Word. A few months after I finished it, I realized that I could probably expand it into a novel. I expanded it and then wrote bits and pieces about the other elements of the story which were floating about in my head. I was working in Word for a while then tried Pages and then tried the earlier version of Scrivener.

I’m a big fan of MacJournal, so wrote an extensive outline in there plus background info on the characters, locations, etc… So by this point, I had info about my novel scattered in three different programs - Word, Pages, MacJournal. I realized that I had to get my outline, notes and text into one program.

I downloaded Scrivener this afternoon and have been assembling my notes and text. I filled in my outline and then copied my completed text and organized my chapters, scenes, etc… The “status” tab is great because I can see what I’ve done and what I have to do. The outline is great because I can see my book coming together - it makes it seem real. Plus, I didn’t realize how much random stuff I had written until I started to put it together in Scrivener. I’m a lot further along than I thought I was.

Thanks to Scrivener, I can really see myself finishing this book!

Great story, Joe.

I had a very similar experience after importing my material into Scriv a few
months ago. Suddenly, there was substance I hadn’t realized was there.
I’m about three chaps from finalizing my first Scrivener-aided submission
draft. And happier than a bull rabbit in BeatrixPotterLand.


Thanks for the kind words - I’m glad Scrivener is helping you organise your novel. For me, I had the opposite experience. Once I had finished Scrivener 1.0, I placed all of of my miscellaneous, random ideas for my novel into it, stuff that’s been coming together for nigh on ten years. Putting it altogether in one place and trying to impose some sort of structure on it made me realise how truly random it was, and how I’m not as far along as I had hoped. Lots of nicely worded (in my eyes) passages about random things, but nothing that really fits together into a coherent whole. So it was back to the outliner and corkboard view for brainstorming, and all of that miscellaneous stuff is there should the need arise for it…

Anyway, thanks again and all the best,


that sounds almost discouraged. No need to feel so. It is the first after so many years . A few days later, and you will see how things fit together. I wish you good luck,


Keith, welcome to my world! This was the state of my dissertation for a long while–seemingly random thoughts that sounded good but had no apparent connections! But, in reality, many of them did have connections, and it just took a while for them to emerge. I have probably hundreds of ‘random’ notes for my dissertation. Beginning a project is often quite frustrating for me because of this way of working. But eventually the structure emerges and voila, I have something! Another reason I love Scr. I can collect all those notes and thoughts and keep working it until the “penny drops,” as my advisor used to say.


“The Rabbit, The Fox and the Wolf: A Fable

One sunny day a rabbit came out of her hole in the ground to enjoy the weather. The day was so nice that the rabbit became careless, so a fox sneaked up to her and caught her.

"I am going to eat you for lunch!,"said the fox.

“Wait!” replied the rabbit, “You should at least wait a few days”

“Oh yeah? Why should I wait?”

“Well, I am just finishing writing my Ph.D. thesis.”

“Hah! That’s a stupid excuse. What is the title of your thesis anyway?”

“I am writing my thesis on ‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.’”

“Are you crazy? I should eat you up right now! Everybody knows that a fox will always win over a rabbit.”

“Not really, not according to my research. If you like, you can come to my hole and read it for yourself. If you are not convinced you can go ahead and have me for lunch.”

“You are really crazy!” But since the fox was curious and had nothing to lose, it went with the rabbit into its hole. The fox never came back out.

A few days latter the rabbit was again taking a break from writing and, sure enough, a wolf came out of the bushes and was ready to eat her.

“Wait!”, yelled the rabbit, “you cannot eat me right now.”

“And why might that be, you fuzzy appetizer?”

“I am almost finished writing my Ph.D. thesis on ‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves’.”

The wolf laughed so hard that it almost lost its hold on the rabbit. “Maybe I shouldn’t eat you, you are really sick in your head, you might have something contagious,” the wolf opined.

“Come read for yourself, you can eat me after that if you disagree with my conclusions.” So the wolf went to the rabbit’s hole and never came out.

The rabbit finished writing her thesis and was out celebrating in the lettuce fields. Another rabbit came by and asked, “What’s up? You seem to be very happy.”

“Yup, I just finished writing up my dissertation.”

“Congratulations! What is it about?”

“It is titled ‘The superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.’”

“Are you sure? That doesn’t sound right.”

“Oh yes, you should come over and read for yourself.”

So they went together to the rabbit’s hole.

As they went in, the friend saw the typical graduate student abode, albeit a rather messy one after writing a thesis. The computer with the controversial dissertation was in one corner, on the right there was a pile of fox bones, on the left was a pile of wolf bones, and in the middle was a lion.

The moral of the story is: The title of your dissertation doesn’t matter, all that matters is who your thesis advisor is.â€

I agree, Scrivener is great for collecting random ideas and organising scattered thoughts. I’m currently using it for my MA research project (in fact all my course notes, research, etc.) and I also have a scriv for a non-linear interactive short fiction I’m writing for the web (which also forms part of my research project). In both areas, but especially with the web fiction script, I find Scrivener extremely valuable for helping me to see the connections between apparently random ideas. I’ve started to use keywords in combination with Labels and Status (customised to ‘Theme’) categories to extend and explore these connections further. Using this fairly loose tagging system, I’m looking for patterns to emerge that will help me structure my interactive story.

Alexandria - I’d be interested to know how structures began to emerge in your project. Did you use specific features in Scrivener to reveal connections or was it more a case of the general working environment that Scrivener offers helping you to see the connections?

BTW, I’d be interested in anyone’s comments and observations. :slight_smile:

Keith - I know how you feel, for years I’ve been collecting random ideas for a novel and a number of shorter fictions too - and actually I thought I’d got a structure for the novel all worked out - but those projects are on hold for the moment because I’m giving myself up to the ‘truly random’. I’m exploring different ways of structuring stories and for the most part I’ve abandoned the dictates of the linear form. It’s all quite experimental at the moment, and who knows whether any of it will work, but I’m excited by the possibilities.

You talk of imposing a structure on your random ideas, which is interesting because it suggests some kind of battle with your story material. Would you say there’s some truth in that, or am I way off the mark? To some extent I think it’s how I felt about tackling story material and beating it into linear shape. I ask because at the present time I’m experimenting to see if I can find more fluid ways for stories to emerge and Scrivener is a great tool to use for that.

P.S. I’d like to be able to use quotes in my written research project, so please let me know if you’d rather not be quoted, or would prefer to remain anonymous (i.e. not identified by your forum username). Also, if you participate, you have the right to see any records relating to your involvement in this research.

Just to add to the above that I’ve now used Scrivener to organise my notes for the talk I’m giving tomorrow.
I took the pages of random jottings from the Word file on my PC and tipped them into Scrivener, split and spliced them, gave each note a two- or three-word synopsis, then shoved them into order on the corkboard. And voilà !
Five index cards: Introduction, 3 points, Conclusion.
I’ll copy the synopses on to actual index cards, read through the detailed notes before I leave home, and then stand up and give an apparently off-the-cuff performance.
Did I mention that I hate giving talks?

Hi, crissxross, sorry I didn’t answer sooner. Just saw this post. I didn’t use Scr. for developing most of my dissertation–only the final chapter, which was largely in place by the time I got there. Scr. didn’t actually exist (except as Scr. Gold, which I didn’t know about) in its present form when I started my dissertation. I started it in Word and had my development notes in DevonThink, which doesn’t serve well for such a purpose, at least not for me. I eventually moved the project to Mellel, still using DTPro for my notes and all research material. With this set-up, it was pretty difficult to make the connections I needed to make and it took a while for the structure to emerge in my project. My notes were quite scattered and it was hard to bring them together.

So I can’t offer much advice on this in Scr. re the dissertaiton. I can say that all current projects are being developed in Scr. and it’s going quite well. I use split screen much of the time to bring ideas together, as well as document and project notes. The project notes provide a master development file that I can add to throughout my research and the development of ideas. I use the split windows to bring in other ideas and research material. I use the reference pane constantly to link to media and pdf files that I use in my research, again using the split view extensively to work with these files.

My system continues to evolve!