Is this what snapshot is for?

I’ve been working on a particular novel-like creature off and on (more off, truth to tell) for a few decades or so. It began life as a short story, then just got grew and grew like a weed. Currently, it’s about 400 pages and mucho sections within a Scrivener project.

I’ve got copies of all the major iterations. Could I make up a Mega-Scrivener Project, by scanning the first iteration, the proceeding in more or less chronological order, saving a Snapshot after each revision, and ending up at last in the current version? Then they’d all be in one place, and I could go back through the sediment layers as I wished.

Does Scrivener care if different Snapshots show the same text in changing or moving folders or documents within the same Project?

Or is this just another evidence of insanity?

(Can you change the date stamps on the snapshots, or import them – or are those fixed by computer system time?)

Thanks to anyone with more Scrivener insight than I have.


It would take some work, but that would be possible. More often the snapshot feature is used for keeping track of milestones in progress as you work, but if you wished to “backlog” them you could do so by copying and pasting iterations in, snapshotting them, and then going on to the next.

I’m not quite sure what you mean there, but they are all stored within the piece of the outline they are created within, they don’t drift or get assigned to multiple items.

They are fixed from when you take them, hence the above comment on how they are typically used as you work. There isn’t an interface for changing the dates. You could, if you felt brave, go into the project files and edit the XML files and the names of the snapshots themselves to have different dates. It would be easier, if you want to do that, to title them first so that you can recognise them in the list.

Potentially so! Mainly because I would do similar myself, and I’m toys in the attic.

Another way I thought of doing the same thing would be to scan in the older versions (most of which are typewritten or printed, rather than in some semi-readable data format), and save them as separate folders/documents within the project, but OUTSIDE the base Manuscript…sort of like “Earliest Manuscript” and “Manuscript II” and so forth.

Since the only timestamp I have for some of them is the printout header (Come to think of it, I may have floppies somewhere) , I won’t have lost any useful comparative information.

With clear labels (like “Oct 86 short story”), it’ll be clear – at least to me – what the chronology is. I’ll just drag the earliest doc directly underneath the “Modified Novel Format” icon, the next most recent one directly under that, and so on down to the current one, which will remain “Manuscript”, with it’s real snapshots and multiple backups in seemingly innumerable, time-offset locations.

That’s the “problem” with Scrivener – there are so many good ways to do something helpful but daft — and the program rarely says “no.” Dash it all, it encourages me to think, explore, ask lots of questions of folks like you who know more about the program than I do – and come up with ideas like this! :wink:

I never let an opportunity pass to evangelize Sccrivener to those who haven’t started using it yet. And I’m submitting Keith’s name for secular sainthood.


To me it would make more sense to separate those old archival copies into their own folder within Scrivener (in effect, their own research folder) and keep them out of the main draft. Which seems to be your second idea. This makes reference and comparison easy (search, split screen, etc) and you can call them whatever you want that will make sense. A lot less work than trying to create and backdate snapshots of decades of drafts.

It also means, as you noted, that it doesn’t matter what format those drafts are in. They could be electronic text files; web-pages of your short lived novel blog; or scans of your notebook scrawl, napkin notes and the 1989 dot-matrix ASCII-art that sparked it all.

Yes, I meant to say that myself as well. In general I do prefer “embedding” revisions into the outline using Snapshots. I prefer this as it feels like a cleaner approach to me and I very rarely need the older revisions for anything but spot recovery. But in this case it seems like it would be easier to just store these older revisions as folder forks outside of the draft. That’s ten minutes of work instead of five hours or whatever, anyway.

Thanks for all you guys’ help. I did just uncover an Imagewriter printout of the first 300 pages from 1986 (I’m sure it’s Word 1.05…and the disk is in the amorphous land of Somewhere.). We’ll see how well the scanner and OCR deals with that!

I keep finding snippets of dialog and description that I regret now having excised. I want the rest of my snippets handy for the next time I change my mind.

Here’s one I found today. Scene: Late 1970 or '71, a friend’s house, the day before the family’s going to move. They moves every three years or so, out to somewhere exotic, then return to the home town. Only the “anchor furniture” is left in the public rooms. Filled packing boxes exiled to the basement. They’ve just been notified that a son has been killed in the war, and they’re about to receive friends at a wake.

“Gypsies on edge, waiting for the move to start” was the phrase that spoke to me. There’s a bit of chess reference in there, too.


Sounds the perfect project for Scrivener. :slight_smile: Decades of pieces finally coming together.

Indeed! That’s what first attracted me to Scrivener. (That, and it was recommended by Wil Wheaton on his blog) It works the way I think document creation software should work. Which is to say, it gives me a place to assemble my piles of data in one place. Since I’m by nature a packrat type, I organize by piles.

[Deleted rant about Word obviously being written by software programmers, not writers.]

The thing I most like about Scrivener is that I keep finding more things I can do with it. I’m finding it plays well with Filemaker. One of my other projects is a multi-family history that links calendar and place data with events and multiple versions of the family stories that are based on those events. Toss in a few hundred photos, the random video or home movie, and you’ve got a Project.