How to manage "starting over"

I’ve written a bunch in a Scrivener project, but I don’t like the way it is organized at all. I’d like to start fresh, yet I want access to fragments of what I have written to pull into the new Draft. Do you suggest that I:

a. Start a new project file for a clean start, then copy and paste text fragments from the old project file as needed, or

b. Put all the old writing into the Research section of the current project, and start a new Drafts folder with my new outline (aka, keep everything in one project file), then pull in fragments as needed.

Pros and cons to each? Or is there a better way to “start fresh” while having access to old writing?

I’d go with b. Have gone with it, in fact, more than once.

I didn’t even move the old stuff to Research.

  • Open two new files in Draft.
  • Call one Version A and the other Version B. (Or any pairing you like.)
  • Move all the old project — as is — into Version A.
  • Start over in Version B, copying and modifying as you go.
    Saves creating a new project and complicating the project file(s).


I did neither. I just created two folders under Draft, named “new version” and “old version”, and moved all I had written so far into “old version”. Then I looked at the empty “new version” in cork board mode and created a completely new structure. Finally I copied useful parts from the old version into the appropriate sections in the new version. Done! :slight_smile:

I got totally confused trying to do it in Scrivener and, after five attempts, went back to Word.

I know, I know. Coward’s way out. :frowning:

Very very brave, if you ask me. Superior large document management is one of the biggest reasons why I adopted Scrivener in the first place – back when that meant buying a Mac – and now I find the prospect of doing this kind of reorganization in Word absolutely terrifying.


Confused by what? I usually do this kind of re-organizing in the Binder. Did yesterday, again, when I decided my text needed re-shuffling.
Two new folders, Old version - New version. Moved everything in the Binder (except my two new folders of course) into Old version, and started from scratch with New version - copy/paste, etc.

My view also. As I’ve written here before, the event that drove me to Scrivener and the Mac was trying to reorganise 40,000 words in MS Word for Windows. I lost the lot. Admittedly, that was nearly a decade ago, and I’m pretty sure the stability of long-form projects in MS Word has improved quite a bit since then. But it demonstrated to me that whilst MS Word is a good tool for short-form business documents, developing an application for successfully creating anything long-form isn’t the top priority of Microsoft. And as the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.”

So, yes, starting over by reorganising in Word is definitely brave.

I’ve done it both ways. I think which to favor depends some on the size/complexity/organizational-state of your project and also how profound the reorganization/rewrite.

Sometimes you need the clarity of seeing that spanking new project that is free of any vestiges of the old way in order to psychologically disentangle you from what you had been doing before. One thing to note about the two project approach is that you can drag and drop between binders to copy docs over. If your original project is broken down into docs in a useful way, this is very handy and leaves the original docs in place (because it is only copying them over).

Which leads me to my next point. When I recently assisted my sweetheart in a wholesale revisioning of a book project she had going – and had already developed out to a hefty book length – the first thing we needed to do was break many of the documents down into smaller documents with helpful names. Because at that point what you really want to see in your old binder is your material broken down into the sorts of chunks that you might likely be wanting to carry over into the new. Sometimes this was as simple as breaking documents down so each scene had its own document. Sometimes it was more complicated. Wow, I hit command-K more times than you can think that weekend.

Keep the same project but use Scrivener’s Collections feature to help you create a new structure organised the way you prefer. You can create many Collections each with the same fragments in so you could experiment with different sequences of those fragments until you are happy with one of them.

Advice to the OP: if (a) you decide to set up a new project for the new version and (b) the documents in the old project are of a size that makes this convenient, you may not be aware that you can simply drag and drop files or folders from the old Binder to the new one, re-arranging the order as you go (as you can of course within a project, from an “old” folder to a “new” one). Either way, new project or new folder, that’s the simplest method that I know of to do what you want - drag and drop, and then go through the writing to smooth off the rough edges where it doesn’t flow.

Wait, are you telling me I can /reorder/ documents /within a collection/ without effecting the binder? (Because otherwise this doesn’t seem like it would help in this situation.)

There are two (other) ways I don’t see this approach working: i) collections don’t reflect any binder structure, and ii) there would appear to be no way to “commit” the binder to the collection arrangement you settle on.

Collections can include their own structure including folders that are specific to them (start off in Section 8.4 of the user manual). The order of documents in a Collection does not have to reflect that of the Binder.

I will grant you that the final objection of gr is true committing the Collection order to be the Binder order but I never find that a problem at all because one can compile a Collection. Effectively we have multiple Binders in fact.

Actually yes, you can commit the Collection order to the Binder. See Section 8.4.5 of the Scrivener Manual.