How to organize revisions? (advice needed)

I’m about to edit a big project, which consists of about 400 smaller pieces. There is something to be done about each piece, let say it can be either research, or additional writing, or style changes.

What’s the best way to organize these things? Of course document notes can hold this information about each document - what needs to be done about it. But I also would like to see the whole list of things to do. And to see separate lists of things to research, to write etc.

Is it possible at all? All solitions I can think of are rather cumbersome and unpractical, like making a separate outline with links to original documents.

Many thanks!

Have you had a look at the Collections feature yet? This is a way of building lists of items without actually moving them around or cross-referencing them. Collections function as tabs in the Binder, which you can access by clicking the second icon from the left on the toolbar, or using the View/Collections/Show Collections menu command.

There are two different ways to use collections:

  1. Manually: you assign items by drag and drop to the tab, or using Documents/Add to Collection/.
  2. Automatically: whenever you search the project, that search can be saved as a dynamic collection that essentially just runs that search again for you whenever you click on the tab. What you use to search could be nearly anything, but whatever is most convenient for you.

So you could create a collection for things that need additional research, style adjustments, or whatever you need. For me it really depends on the type of list, which style of collection I use. Editing notes are something I often jot down while I’m reviewing a section, and I use inline annotations or inspector comments for that, using a short text code, like “RWRI” for “Rewrite”. It gives me something unique I can search for, and thus have a collection that automatically gathers everything in the project that has some range of text within it marked with that code. For other things, like making an update to the user manual for a feature change, I might manually gather the things that need to be revised and then remove them from the list one by one as I go.

Those are just a few ideas, since the whole thing is coupled with Scrivener’s extensive meta-data and searching system, there is a lot of flexibility. Keywords, labels, pretty much anything can be used to generate lists.

For more information on how to use and create collections, see “Using Collections”, §8.4 (pg. 63) of the user manual PDF.

Yes of course, collections are great and I use them extensively. But in a collection we have all the documents (that need to be changed somehow, in my case) listed. What I am looking for is the way to track only changes that need to be done. That is, only a list of document notes where “research” is mentioned, or a list of annotations, with links to correspondent documents but not with documents themselves.

It is difficult to plan work if one can’t see what exactly needs to be done. When you look at a collection you only know its size and the number of documents, but that’s it. One text in a collection can have only one word to be revised, another one has 20 paragraphs to be rewritten. You can manually make a separate to-do list, but it takes time and what’s more serious, you can miss something important. It would be much better if it could be created automatically.

Oh, you mean a list of the notes themselves in the sidebar? Okay, that’s something I pushed for a long time ago, back when there was only inline annotations, but Keith was never too fond of that idea in the design, and it was technically difficult to pull off as well. When Inspector Comments were added to the software, it really addressed much of what that notion provides anyway: stripping away the bulk in between notes, the manuscript itself, so that you can skim them quickly and more efficiently find what you are looking for.

Here is what I was trying to explain before: for myself, how I view this workflow, the Collection list and the Comment list on the right are in fact my to do list. I use them exactly like one, directly. I go down each section one by one, and use the list on the right to jump to the precise locations that have been marked as needing work. As these are resolved, the comments are deleted or renamed, and if all such tagged comments are removed from this document, it will no longer be a part of the to do list.

What does an external list, that is not intrinsic to the source material itself, give you over this process? One of the things that I really like about Scrivener is that it lets you embed your workflow directly in the material your are working on. You don’t need external to do lists when the software has one built in to the manuscript itself.

Maybe I’m not understanding what you mean by planning work, though. I just dive in, click on the first document, go through the comment tags I wish to address, go to the next document and so on. I don’t care if one document has fifty or three, I’m just going through the whole list of things that needs to be addressed, right?

One last note: If all you want is a static text file with a list of all your inline annotations and comments, you can export one in the File/Export/ sub-menu. There is no way to link these back to the original documents though, since an RTF file on your Desktop can’t know how to load individual Scrivener items. We do have plans to make external linking possible down the road, not in the immediate future, and this might not be a bad place to use that capability, but this doesn’t strike me as a very efficient way of making todo lists anyway. All you’re getting out of this file is what you already have dynamically in the form of direct navigation controls with the Collection + Comment synergy.

Well, no. Absolutely not. By planning I mean planning, not diving. Estimating how much time I need for a certain type and amount of work, and adjusting my calendar.

E.g. let’s say that there are 30 texts that need attention. Your method of diving suggests a rather vague decision: maybe I can make 1 text in 1 hour, then I need 30 hours.

However, if I look closer it turns out that

  • there are 5 topics that need additional research (3 hours each → 15 hours)
  • there are 120 paragraphs that need to be rewritten (15 min → 30 hours)
  • there are 20 topics that need a brainstorm (30 min each → 10 hours)

That means 55 hours, not 30.

For now I’ve decided to manually fill four Project Notes (“Research”, “Brainstorm”, “To write”, “To edit”) while I’m rereading it. It’s time-consuming, but it seems that there is no easy solution. Hopefully in the future Scrivener will get some planning tools.

Even if not in this case, but exporting of annotations might be very useful, thanks for reminding me.

I wish I wasn’t sceptical, but I am.

The Mac eco-system is now stuffed with task managers. Project managers are less common on the Mac than on Windows, but there are several, a few quite reasonably priced. And there’s always the online options.

If resources were not a constraint, I’d love Scrivener to include task-planning features (the very best, at no extra cost, of course :wink: ). But resources are a constraint, there are substantial improvements that Keith says he still wants to make to the writing capabilities of Scrivener - and ToDo for the Mac costs $14.99.

What about custom meta-data? If you add a column to represent the total time it would take to edit a document, you could go down the list with the Inspector open, estimating how much work there is based on the comments. A simple numeric value would let you sort by time, giving the ability to locate documents that can be fully resolved in the time you have available at the moment. It works well with everyone else discussed thus far, since you can load a search result or collection into the main editor to work with it in Outliner view.

Of course there are many ways to make an external list, that’s not what I asked. It requires lots of extra time and manual labour, which is weird taking into account that 1) Scrivener is so advances in many other respects, 2) it is already there, you just have to export it as a list… but you can’t.

I can feel a certain disbalance between Screvener’s extensive abilities to plan and manage size (signs, words, pages, daily goals, text goals, twitting about your progress etc. etc., which is great of course) and its complete lack of time planning features. Zero. Probably Scrivener people are just not into it (proof: the iPad version).

That’s an interesting idea, thanks! I am trying it. I also have some vague thoughts about Aeon timeline which I bought but haven’t really used: it deals with time, and is Scrivener-friendly, maybe there is a way to use it for managing revisions.