How do you divide paragraphs in scrivener?

I am an aspiring writer, and this is how I use scrivener for my story writing, a medieval fantasy on four POV. I wonder how the others did it?

I divided my story into chapters (obviously) of mostly between 1000 - 3000 words each, generally two or three scenes per chapter. I put them on separate scrivener text and arrange them based on the timeline of the events.

As I made my world first before I made the story, I made a lot of folders and subfolders for database purposes. This is to make sure that character A meets the same shopkeeper as character B which visits the town several chapters later. I also find it easier for me to generate a lot of names and places in one go, and then borrow unused ones when I am writing. That made me stop less often when writing the actual story. This organizing ability is the biggest appeal of scrivener for me.

My list of folders:

  • Characters, further grouped by locations
  • Places, further grouped by regions
  • Houses (Noble houses, their coat arms and affiliations)
  • Items (items that I created, price, and places it is available)
  • Legends
  • Others (smart conversation that I hoped to use someday – or not)

That being said, I saw a lot of people (and tutorial) divided their writing per paragraph / scene. I can see that Scrivener made that really easy, but assuming that a chapter has three scenes and there are 32 chapters in total, does it not means there are 96 text pages (and a lot of scrolling and searching)? Since I am using the Binder for my database, that would distract me a bit.

How do you organize your work?

Your setup sounds more like how I use the Research folder (or if you simply move them all down one level into a ‘Do not compile’ folder I used to use a master folder of stuff that I want to have around, but never compile into a draft - this interferes with word counts though, so I’m trying to keep things in Research).

I either have a separate project open called ‘Scratch’ or have a file somewhere in the main project called Quotes/Ideas/Scratch to keep any extra bits of dialogue or ideas I want to keep. You could use the scratchpad, but I like to use the ‘split at selection’ within my ideas doc to keep breaking individual ideas down further (kind of a mechanical spider map).

Then, as each section of the story is finalised, I ‘promote’ it up to Draft folder in the order I want to compile it in. Again, what I find I’m doing more often now is duplicating the text or folder I had, then moving and editing it in the Draft folder, so that it becomes a more ‘final’ version.

I’ve also used this method on Draft 2 - moving all of draft 1 into Research, then adding notes or scenes into my draft, duplicating and moving scenes up into the Draft area to form the Second Draft ‘proper’. The way I write means my scenes are chapters, so I use the folder title as the chapter title in the output. When I made my initial copy, I often rename my scenes away from their chapter titles to remind me what happens when, or what I want to change.

I use keywords to keep track of characters, locations etc.

One of the strengths of Scriv is its versatility, so you’ll find different people use it completely differently.

It depends a lot on how you write, and even on how the book itself is structured, but one feature which mitigates your primary concern is Edit Scrivenings. A lot of people put their scenes into a chapter folder or file. They put the individual scene documents into text documents and arrange them beneath a text file or folder called “Chapter 4” or whatever, and then if they want to view that entire chapter, they can select it and use the Edit Scrivenings feature to view the entire thing as though it were a single file. So even though you cut things up into smaller pieces, for all practical purposes it can act like a single “chapter file” if you want it to. The advantages of this are a higher level of detail in your working process. Individual scenes can be tagged as being completed, or in various stages of rewrite, using meta-data; keywords can be assigned on a per-scene basis; and all of this makes project searching more useful. Meanwhile, with each scene having its own index card and synopsis, it can be easier to get a grip on the entire flow of the book, and easier to move scenes around to adjust the flow of the narrative.

Speaking of scale, the book I’m working on right now currently has about 350 individual text files in the Draft, and about 50 organisation containers. It’s a technical work, and so is more inclined to breaking things down into smaller sections—as that allows for better cross-referencing within the work. Thus my example isn’t directly applicable to fiction, but the point is that in no way do I feel hampered by having so many individual sections. Navigation is a breeze, and I make use of Edit Scrivenings rather heavily to view all of these smaller sections together in the larger context. If I am looking for a particular line though, it often means less scrolling. If your entire chapter is in a file, then you’ll be scrolling a lot more through text than in the case where most of your files fit “above the fold”. Unless you meant scrolling in the Binder—if I had the entire Binder opened up the whole way then yes that would be a lot of scrolling. What I do is leave it open to the second level, the chapter level (top level is parts). Clicking on a chapter container opens it in an Outliner in the top split, and that split is set to auto-load text items that I click on into the lower split. So there isn’t a whole lot of scrolling. I would suspect that this navigational aspect is something that one grows accustomed to over time as they use Scrivener. Before using a program like Scrivener, I would store everything into chapter files, or even one long document in LyX. It was very strange to suddenly have no technical or practical limitation on how big each file should be, but once I thought of the Draft as a big outline that corresponds directly to the material, and learned to maximise Scrivener’s features to aid in navigating through it, the process of moving around in a huge outline became second nature.