How to Organise Fiction Project


Im writing on a fiction project. Within the manuscript, there are 2 stories, one happing in the present and one in the past. They are distributed throughout the project. What would be the way to accomodate the following requirements:

  1. Ability to read/write/edit /compile each strand of the story separately without moving around the chapters
  2. Ability to highlight/identify chapters that require further research during the writing process

I am aware of labels and metatags, but Im unsure which one to use for which. Any ideas and suggestions would be much appreciated!


You have two narrative (or story) arcs: one set in the past and one set in the present. At some point, the two arcs will be distributed throughout your project. At some point.

When writing multiple arcs, whether character or narrative, I’ve found it far, far easier to separate the arcs while drafting, and leaving the structure – arranging into chapters and so forth – until the very end. I am in good company; many writers do this. (They probably discovered it the hard way, as did I.)

Scrivener makes this easy to do in a variety of ways; you’ll have to find the way that suits you best.

My preference is to create a Folder in the Binder for each “scene” and create as many Documents as necessary in that Folder, as I write – might be one, might be ten. I use Scrivener’s Labels on each Folder to show which arc the Folder (and its Documents) are part of. You can easily see in the Binder which Folder is in which arc by switching on View/Use Label Colour In/Binder.

Unfortunately, Label colour is not shown in the Compile system, which is a shame. However, if your two arcs are (mostly) detached, then you could simply group the Folders together by arc.

The key here – which I suspect is why you are asking the question – is that this arrangement makes it very easy to navigate around your story, which is far more important than the final structure at this stage.

Key point: Don’t think in Chapters until you have to.

For “to do” work, I create Annotations in the text that start with the text TODO:. To find them, I have a Collection that searches for that text. Easy.

In addition, I sometimes outline a scene in some detail, and then move on – for whatever reason. In those cases, I change the Folder icon in the Binder as a reminder that I need to work on it a bit more seriously than a TODO:. I often leave a Document of notes in a Folder too and highlight it in some way.

Hope that helps. We all work differently. Good luck finding the method that works best for you.

Finally, Macclesfield. I know it well. A good friend of mine still lives there.

Have you tried Collections? They are saved searches that can be viewed and edited as Scrivenings.

If you tagged each scene in the past timeline as “past,” you could leave the scenes where they belong in the manuscript, and then make a Collection that would show you only the past scenes in order.

Since it’s a saved search, it automatically updates when you add or delete scenes with the appropriate tag.

I can do it and I probably will. The problem I am having with this aprroach is that: Both arcs are supposed to interact with each other. The protagnoist discovers something from the past, And while the past story is told, the protagonist is changing over time. So when sth happened in the past, then he will also change in the present. And this development is hard to capture if I keep them separate for all too long. (sorry for my complicated english, it is not my native language.)

I can only say thanks for this! This one is so simple that even havent thought of myself.
I just write “research” and “TODO” → problem solved.

I lived there for a couple of years, Im not there anymore. It was an inspiring time. Im there once a year or so. Hated the rain, loved the people I met and the experience to live in a foreign country.

Hi Guys

I’m discovering that using Label + collections is very convenient

I think it’s better to write chapter after chapter (a matter of rythm) but you could make a collection for each of your stories

Have a look :

Best regards

You might also like to try inspector comments. The advantage to them is you don’t have to do any searching; they just stack up in the inspector when you have the comments/footnotes pane selected, and clicking on one will scroll you to the text that is anchoring the comment. Loading multiple documents in "Scrivenings Mode will expose all comments from all included documents.