I’m a bit baffled by the (apparently) fixed-height panes in the inspector. Maybe someone can help me understand the intended purpose of the Synopsis vs Document Notes? For my workflow, having a larger area to view synopsis would be ideal, since I can also see that in corkboard view. Yet there seems to be a bias toward document notes (since they have so much more space given to them). Can someone explain the difference in their intended function? Perhaps I’m using them wrong.
I can speak from only a screenwriter’s perspective on this. I use the synopsis to give a general idea of what the scene is about and main players.
The document notes I use for lower level details such as number of pages for the scene, timing, number of people involved (but not main players, which I use the synopsis for), etc.
I try to be specific and concise in the synopsis, summarising a scene’s purpose and content in as short a way as I can. While I’m building the structure of a piece, I throw into the document notes (and the references) any random thoughts, images, scraps that might help when I get round to writing it.
I can see you might want the option to expand the synopsis pane to a larger size, though.
In fiction, I use synopses for a very brief description, something to remind me what is supposed to happen (before writing) or something that has happened (after writing it) in a scene. “MC receives a series of uninvited dwarven guests who believe he is throwing them a party; the last guest is a familiar wizardly friend.”
When I’m at a corkboard level, the title of each scene is there to nudge my memory of what goes into that document, and the synopsis is there to remind me of the scope of the scene.
The document notes might list information about the setting; location, time of day, span of time to the end of the scene, the MC’s state of mind, the attitudes of the individual guests, the real purpose for their visit… really anything that I need to remember when I get around to writing the scene. Alternately, I can use the notes pane to contemplate what I need to change before I start cutting and re-writing parts of it.
Simple, basic question from a newbie:
Can I create more than one “Document Note” per document? Or should I just use Comments, or break up the document more for greater detail or precision?
Brad – Oh… using PC version 1.6.
Document notes can be as long as you like, but you can only have one. (This is true on both Mac and Windows.) Widening the inspector or collapsing the synopsis and meta-data sections may be sufficient to show you enough of the text to suit, but otherwise if you have too much text to conveniently put there, you might want to split the document, use comments for some of the notes, or even create a complete document in the binder to serve as a “Notes” document that you can reference in the split screen. By deselecting “include in compile” in the inspector for the notes document, you can even keep it in the Draft as a subdocument to the manuscript document it belongs to without it being included when you compile your manuscript later.
For myself, I usually try to break down my binder into small enough sections that the sort of notes I keep in document notes don’t get too overwhelming. I use comments when writing or when reading over what I’ve written, to make specific notes on passages, and occasionally I do have a separate “Notes” sort of document in the draft, though usually this isn’t so much notes as fifty different versions of a paragraph as I try out pacing and different directions to move the scene while covering all the points specified in the synopsis or document notes. My document notes usually provide more detail on points mentioned in the synopsis or reminders about subplot or foreshadowing elements that need to be in the scene which aren’t mentioned in the synopsis. Occasionally a snippet of dialog or other text that I might want to use in the scene goes here too until I get around to writing the thing and see if it actually fits. On the whole, though, there aren’t tons of detailed notes being poured in here per document, and I don’t mind a little scrolling when necessary as I like keeping the notes closely associated with the document and tucked out of the way when I’m not immediately needing them.
What an excellent, thorough response.
Answered all my questions – and then some.