How do I keep track of my chapters if I have to break them down in dozens of documents?

How would one single document of 400,000 words worth fare with the snapshots?

Hi mjw,

Sorry to say, I’m really not clear on what you’re asking.

I’ve organized my WIP novel by sections (folders), and then grouped scenes (documents) within the sections, if they feel like they belong there.

What I’m calling sections may or may not turn out to be chapters, so I decided not to call them chapters yet. I’ll figure out the chapters when the draft is done.

If I need to go back and add something to a specific scene, I’m not finding it terribly difficult to do so.

That’s all I can offer you now. Perhaps if you get into a bit more detail about what your concern is, I or someone can give you a better answer.


Well, I have a lot of material, and the thought of splitting it into dozens, if not hundreds of single documents into folders already bugs me out, such as if I have to rearrange them, and end up not being about to find where one is or get the full picture because its so unorganized and spend my time just scrolling up and down.
Another concern is how would I know if I file got corrupted if there are so many of them?

What if your 400 k words file got corrupted? Then all is gone.

You have overview in the binder.
How do you get overview in a continuous 400 k word document?

I thought the snapshot would take care of that…and what if one of of the numerous ones gets corrupted and I never know it and delete the backup?
How is overview different from continuous scrolling in a document?

Have you done the tutorial?

I thought I did-you make it sound like I missed something…

Your posts are very unclear, which often suggests that the poster hasn’t done the tutorial and doesn’t understand how Scrivener functions.
What’s your specific problem?

Keeping track of hundreds of smaller documents, reorganizing them if I find I don’t like the lineup. And what to do should one of them gets corrupted and if I overlook it because there are so many documents and I won’t be able to find the backup for it. I wanted to know if snapshot works with a 400,000 words document and if that would protect it in case it get corrupted.

The risk of losing text is bigger if you have everything in one single document in the binder because then it is literally saved as one single file on your HD, whereas if you have the binder split up in hundreds of smaller chunks, then each document in the binder is saved as an individual file on disk within the project package.

Scrivener only opens the binder documents you see in the editor. It is designed to having the text split up in smaller pieces, to keep it safe and to make it easier to manage the text.

It still sounds as if you haven’t understood the core principles of Scrivener.

And it would be easier to answer your questions if you explained what the problem is, if you really have one. And you are still unclear.
What do you mean by “getting corrupted”?

Well I was under the impression that the core principle of Scrivener was versatility, being able to work the way that works for you…I didn’t realize minute documents were suppose to be the norm.
The same as you meant when referring to the large file potentially “getting corrupted”.

(Why do you keep citing? It’s quite obvious that you answer the preceeding post.)

It is designed to have the text split up in small pieces, so you can view it in different ways and move around the pieces if you want to.
If you prefer one large continuous document, why not use Word? It is built to handle that.

Well, if you want to be able to reorganize a 400,000 word document it’s sort of necessary to split it in pieces, isn’t it? I mean, you can do it the “Scrivener way,” by breaking it into chunks and moving the chunks around in the Binder, or you can do it the “Word way” by copying and pasting between locations, but either way you’re splitting it up, right?

The advantage of the Scrivener approach is that each “chunk” is an independent document, and so you’re not likely to drop Chunk A in the middle of Section B by mistake. This in itself makes the kind of corruption you’re worried about much less likely.

I don’t know if Snapshots have been tested with a single 400,000 word chunk, but it you’re trying to manipulate 400,000 words in a single Binder document you are ignoring almost all of the reasons for using Scrivener in the first place. You’re almost certainly going to be disappointed because Word is better at behaving like Word than Scrivener is.


Without repeating too much what Katherine and Lunk have already said, if you’ve got a 400k WIP, you’re still going have to figure out a way to track where everything is. How do you handle that in one big 400k document? What tools would you use?

Your understanding is correct. If you want to organize your documents by chapter, put a chapter in each doc. If you want to organize your docs by scene, do that. (That’s what I do.) Some people break it down to the paragraph level. Whatever floats your boat. Hell, you can keep everything in one big document, but, frankly, a person doing that is missing out on many of Scrivener’s helpful features, and, as already pointed out above, at that point you might as well be in Word.

As you’re deciding how to organize your work in Scrivener, keep in mind that you apply scrivener features like Status, Labels, and Keywords to individual documents.

Status can be handy, particularly if you’re like me and prefer to write scenes out of order, because if you break up your work into separate document per scene, it allows you to specify a different Status per scene. So you can see at a glance from views like the Outliner or Corkboard which scenes are Pending, First Draft, Need Rework, or whatever.

If your work has multiple points of view or characters or themes or pretty much anything that would be useful for you to track, you can assign Keywords to documents based on these things, and then you can group your work by them using Collections. And again, in the Outliner or Corkboard views, you can see them at a glance.

When you want to view your scenes and chapters contiguously, you can do that via Scrivenings mode, which will stitch them together, and simulate the kind of view you’d get if working in something like Word.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas of the organizational tools available in Scrivener, when you start breaking things up at some level into separate document. Can you visualize any of these being useful to you? Again, how would you handle tracking of things like status or theme or POV changes in one big 400k document in Word? (Or whatever?) What tools would you use to track status, for instance?

My WIP is at 200k+ words, and I couldn’t imagine trying to do this in one huge doc. If Scrivener or the other binder-based tools didn’t exist, I’d probably use individual Word docs broken out by chapter, or try to write it in OneNote. But it would be a frickin mess. :smiling_imp:

As Lunk already suggested, my recommendation is for you run to through the Tutorial again. The first time one gets exposed to Scrivener, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Lots of bells and whistles. Run through it again, but this time solely from the perspective of organization. For that matter, study how the tutorial itself is organized, maybe you’ll see something that can apply to your own work.


I would say this:

Snapshots are the wrong tool for what the OP is trying to address. The OP does not yet trust the app enough to split things up. The answer to that is a good backup strategy: cumulative backup of your hard drive and plus the builtin back ups scriv makes. Snapshots are meant for a different purpose – when you want to try something on with a scene but want to be able to selectively revert it.


P.s. I don’t see in principle why snapshots “wouldn’t work” with any size doc.

Perhaps this is my own personal quibble I need to sort out, but I was concerned about being daunted in having to rearrange a long extending list of documents and keeping track of all of them like that.

This was very helpful-thank you for sharing :slight_smile:

Before you put your 400,000-word document into Scrivener, you might try importing something much smaller (or part of the large work) and playing with it a bit. Or start some fake something in Scriv and play with that.

When I first decided to try Scriv, I first imported an already published short story of 6,000 words and three chapters. I played with that, saw how I could identify my chapters (mine are empty folders with the actual text-filled scenes as documents in the folders), label them, move them, etc. Then I made sure I could compile the story into a format I could use to publish.

That way I never risked anything I cared about, and only after I felt comfortable using Scrivener at a basic level did I start writing a novel in it. Because I did it that way, I never hit that “steep learning curve” so many talk about, but then I confess to not using a lot of the features, and I don’t compile anything publish-ready. I take my work out of Scriv at a certain point and put it into another program to format for publishing.

Anyway, I recommend doing a little playing around in Scrivener until you have a certain comfort level instead of doing that playing around with an important big project you care about.

That’s what the metadata is for. You don’t have a long list of “document 1,” “document 2,” and so on, you have a list of “the scene in the forest,” “the body is found,” “monday morning,” and so on. You have keywords to identify the characters and settings for each scene. You have synopses.


It is also worth mentoning that you do not have to choose between a single big doc and a zillion tiny docs – there are a zillion options between those two!

Many Scrivener users have made testimony on this forum about what a breakthrough it was for them to take their longstanding novel project and breaking it into its logical parts so that they could “see” their work in the Binder and have easy access to any part of it. Suddenly, the thing they had been struggling with and had come to seem like a monster was accessible to them – seemed suddenly manageable. My wife is one of those people.

Maybe you will have a similarly happy experience. It really is what Scrivener was built for – to break you out of having to deal with your big project as though it was one super long unbroken block of text with no structure.