How do you keep track of sub-plots in a book?

Hi I’m new to scrivener (downloaded two days ago!) and so far I am loving it. There are so many features however, I’m having trouble working out how best to use them. In particular I’d love to know how other users keep track of sub-plots within a main novel. Is there a way I can tag bits of text as belonging to a particular sub-plot so I can then pull all those sections from the main novel?

Searching “subplots” in this forum brings up some preliminary ideas for you now.

For me, that’s the main function of Labels. Others use those for POV-characters, but I like to use Labels, because a scene is mostly only in one subplot. (Select Project > Project Settings > Label list to add or removeLabels).

This way, a colored dot in the Binder indicates the subplot a scene is in. (View > Use Label color in…) and determining the distribution of scenes over subplots becomes just looking at the colors in the Binder.

And to see each subplot on their own, seaching for the name of the Label (Click the looking glass above the Binder, select Label and Exact words), and saving the result in a Dynamic Collection (bottom option in the search options menu) will bring all scenes together in collections so reading the subplot in Binder order is easy. Adding or removing scenes from subplots will automagically update the Collection it is in.

Hope this helps


I use two tools from Scrivener. The first is keywords. You can assign as many ones as you want. So you can have keywords for all your main characters. With this you can track any subplot associated with a main character. You can also create keyword tags for a subplot, like a romance one. Give each scene with your subplot the keyword. If you then do a project search for the keyword then every scene that contains something about this subplot will be available to review.
The second tool to combine is Comments. You can highlight a word or group of words with a colored text and fill in the comment in the inspector with a “comment” to discuss why or importance of this. You can assign different colors to the comments, but if the inspector is open you can see all the comments and clicking on one takes you to that point in the scene.
So the keywords can tag each and everyone of your subplots and the comment will focus you on the key subplot events of the scene.
Labels can be used as well and are great but are limited to one per document/scene. You could use labels for your main characters, or switch to a subplot . Once you gather all the scenes involved with a subplot in a search result then click on one hit Ctrl + A to select all and if now right click have the option to change the label color all at once for your subplot. So you can change which files get a label color you display in the binder based on what you want to follow.
The beauty of Scrivener that are so many ways to get to what you want.
I use keywords for the senses, characters, locations, subplots, etc. You can search multiple keywords at once if you separate by a space. You can either search for any one, or all. So you could search for a romantic subplot involving a character “Jim” that happens in New York City to quickly narrow your search.
I have three articles on using keywords on my author (unpublished) web site Keywords overview part 1 — My Writing Journey