Knowledge Tree

I’m writing a rather complex story with lots of major characters and 8 major threads. I use Scrivener because it allows me to write in a disjointed way - sometimes following a particular thread, sometimes writing a future scene because that’s what I feel like doing that day, and sometimes following the story in a more typical chronological fashion.

Keeping track of ‘knowledge’ is a big headache at times. It would be pretty handy if I could annotate a character’s notes to say what they learn in a particular scene. If I then go back to a previous scene for the same character, it would only display the knowledge they have gained up to that point. This becomes more important as I return to scenes to edit, rewrite or polish them (and sometimes scrap them).

At the same time, there is the ‘reader’ knowledge - the sum of information that the reader has learned from all the characters up to any particular point in the story. This is crucial of course, because the knowledge gap is what keeps the story ticking away.

Hi Phil,

What meta-information have you tried already? Have you tried any of the following and run into any specific problems?

For example, each document has:

  • Document Notes
  • the Index Card
  • custom Meta-Data fields (“Project” -> “Meta-Data Settings” -> “Custom Meta-Data”. If you turn on “Wrap Text” you can have arbitrarily long text. Press ctrl-enter to add more lines or copy/paste any text inside. You could make meta-data for each of your character’s names for example and track info there.)
  • Annotations (highlighted text which can be excluded from compiling
  • Comments which show up along the side and can help you navigate your documents as well.
  • Footnotes

I’m guessing things like Keywords, Status and Labels wouldn’t help much, because you are tracking complex and chronological information.

But here is a weird idea that might work: (Though this would make your structure complicated perhaps.)

  • Beneath each scene, include a sub-document.
  • Give it a Keyword or a Label like “info tracking”.
  • Make a Saved Search Collection that searches for just that keyword. (When doing a project search, at the bottom is Save Search as Collection."
  • Then at the top of each of these sub-documents, include the place-holder tag: <$parenttitle> (this is a tag that displays the title of the document’s parent.)
  • In the sub-document write the meta information and knowledge-tracking that you are talking about.
    (And you could save this type of document as a sub-document template so you can automatically include all those settings.)

So then if you compile that Saved Search Collection and nothing else, you will (in theory) have an information bible (a parallel narrative of your characters’ knowledge) including all the titles from your scenes so you can reference it. You could compile it as a PDF. You could also view the sub-docs in Scrivenings mode, or keep it in a split view while you write your main scenes.

When you compile the book either you can remove those documents (they are all in a Collection after all) or set them to not compile.

Does that make sense? Think it could help? I don’t know if you can actually compile a Saved Search Collection, but I think I saw someone make a note that you can in the forum.