Managing alternative storyline ?

Hi, I am about a quarter into my book and have gone back and decided that I may divert the plot in a different way than I had originally planned.
I mentioned in another post that I find Scrivener and especially the manual almost too complex. So for now I just went back and created an additional document for each of the two chapters I am altering to accommodate the alternate storyline. I copied over the text and rewrote it to suit, and named the chapters the same name but with a “ii” at the end.

“Boyd & Althorpe”
“Boyd & Althorpe ii”


“Father leaving for Paris”
“Father leaving for Paris ii”

Is there a better way to deal with this ? Is there a section in the Manual :unamused: I could read ? or tutorial ? Or am I doing the best thing ? :laughing:

Tks !

There are other ways to deal with it. They aren’t necessarily better. Your choice is the simplest, though, and has the advantage of you being able to see your “fork.” All you have to do is uncheck Include In Compile in the sidebar (or the Compile dialog) for the version you’re letting fall aside.

You might want to take a look at 15.6 Using Snapshots in the manual for future use.


I use a few different methods, depending on how certain I am of the change.

  1. I’m very certain.
    I take a snapshot, then write over the obsolete material.

  2. I’m reasonably confident, but still have doubts
    I take a snapshot, then copy the old version to a dedicated folder outside of my Draft. This could be in the Research folder, but sometimes I make a dedicated folder for what I call “snippets” - bits I’ve taken out but might re-use or re-insert.

  3. I’m torn and don’t yet know which version I’ll use
    I take a snapshot and then create a twin version in-place. Like Dave suggested, I uncheck the Include In Compile option for the version I think will ultimately delete. If I’m really uncertain, I’ll keep both versions checked, forcing me to make a decision when I review the next full draft.

You’ll notice that all these begin with “Take a snapshot”: Dave’s advice is sound.

Thanks to both of you guys for those ideas. I’ll do a bit of reading of the manual and plough ahead.

Tks again.

I have decided to basically follow a completely different plot line.

But I don’t want to lose the previous chapters I wrote. I can reuse many scenes. And keeping them in the same folder structure means I can look back on them with ease.

I have files as shown in the snapshot below. Am I right i thinking that I can just leave the old story in place in it’s own folder and continue to write the new book in it’s own folder (TANGENT). And when it comes to outputting to an eBook, I can do so simply by selecting the chapters I want and compiling them ?

Yes, and yes. From the Compile command’s point of view, anything not checked in the Contents pane doesn’t exist. You can exclude documents at will with out messing up your pagination, chapter numbering, and so forth. (Note that you will of course break Scrivener Links if you don’t include the section the link points to.)

Note that Compile does not change the order of the included files. So if you use some chapters from each version, you’ll need to take some care to make sure everything ends up in the right place.


Thanks kewms.

I take your point about files from different versions. No. I started a thread last week about duplicating and thankfully I can now copy the chapters I will reuse into the new plot line.

You can also keep the original structure you created (with each chapter having its two versions) and create a collection for your new plot, including also those scenes you want to be on the final draft. Then compile the collection. But your approach is simpler to deal with, IMHO.

Snapshots are great. Every day I tweak my one-pager a little, take a new snapshot and make a pdf. I can scroll back and forth through the versions and that’s great.

I consider story more like a chess board and I want to zigzag my way through it. You’re being forced to make a determination between old and new plot. One idea is being promoted more heavily than another. But what happens if they are equally good, just a thematic choice to be made at a later date? Ideally, both should remain active and in play. Probably not possible from a technical point of view, but horizontal versioning would be quite wonderful (I’m getting giddy just thinking about it, I’ve never seen it done … ).

A-Chicken walks down the street
A-Chicken turns left, B-Chicken turns right
A-Chicken walks into a bar, B-Chicken crosses the road, C-Chicken walks into the room with a gun
A-Chicken goes home

My timeline could be either AAAA, ABAA, ABBA or ABCA. They all end up in the same place.

I’ve been wrestling with collections, but they’re not “performing”. Operator error, no doubt and I’m just stopping here on my way get schooled.