More on Icons in Outliner

Hi All,
Thanks for all your positive feedback. Sorry for the slow response, but I’m on book and baby overwhelm at the moment.
To answer your question, Marcus, as AmberV says, all the icons are immediately available from within the Apple Character Palette which is already in Scrivener at the bottom of the Edit Menu (Special Characters). All I did was use the Font Menu to colour and increase their size. I like them because they’re simple. I’m particularly fond of the ‘Ƕ’ symbol from the phonetic palette that I used for ‘hook’. However, each to his or her own, and I’m sure you could import all kinds of exotic stuff from other places tailored to your individual needs.
For those who haven’t seen them, they’re simply coloured icons representing various elements of created Reader Experience. [ SB Synopsis Matrix Mk3 .pdf (130 KB)] shows you what they look like and the first few chapters, [ SB Synopsis Matrix Mk3 .2.pdf (137 KB)] shows the kind of cumulative patterns they create throughout the rest of the book. It’s just a simple Word table. I wasn’t able to upload it as a single file because of the page breaks.
Looking at the bigger picture within Scrivener, Keith has already given us five very powerful windows (Binder, Editor, Outiner, Corkboard and Inspector), all of which are indispensable, used both alone or in parallel at different stages in the writing process.
However, I do feel that within Scrivener, Outliner has the greatest unused potential for accessing all kinds of key analytical information. Outliner is really a bit of a misnomer. We tend to think of it as an outline tool, because it has its roots in processes like Word’s Outline view. The Binder is actually Scrivener’s closest application to Word’s Outline, and Scrivener’s Outliner has much more potential as an extremely powerful analytical matrix or rubric.
Writing is not a rational process, no matter how much we might wish it were. It’s tools like Outliner that can provide a web within which we catch a glimpse of what we are writing.
As all meaning is contextual, both content and context are in a constantly changing interdependent relationship, when we’re writing. I think what we need as writers, is a way of easily viewing the constantly changing context for our ongoing created content, and it seems to me that a symbolically-rich iconic system is one of the best ways of doing this. To give an example, as I was writing my last book, I realised that the love interest was moving beyond being a simple fairytale romantic motor driving the plot forward, into something a lot deeper and subtler, about power issues in boy/girl relationships in general. As it developed, I could map its gentle progress through the ‘Romance’ icons and either bring it on or hold it in check in very specific places. I could also see how it fell into place in relation to other themes running through the book. This would not have been possible any other way, and, as yet I have not seen another program that does this simply, and in a non-prescriptive and non-invasive way.
One of the things I admire greatly about Scrivener is that it has a neutral value system. It doesn’t promise that it will make you a better writer. It doesn’t imply that by doing this or not doing that, or applying this or that technique, your story will be the better or worse for it. It leaves you to get on with the writing and judge your own work by your own values. And of course ultimately you have to face the value judgements of your agent or publisher and the buying public. This neutrality is hugely important. At the end of the day, no matter how insecure we may feel, we have to accept that we are the ultimate authority for what we write. If it’s good it’s good. If it’s crap it’s crap. But we still need tools that offer up a constant neutral accurate reflection of our work in progress.
Unfortunately much (but not all) North American culture tends to encourage depencency on external ‘expert’ judgement and guidance, and because of this created dependancy, offers up a range of writing programs guaranteed to ‘improve’ your story. Good creative learning processes, in my opinion, are better served by individual learning autonomy with access to good tools (Scrivener) and good models (all the writers you admire). Your own original perspective and writing skills coupled to an effective immediate feedback loop (in my case the icon system and trusted draft readers) and constant practice, completes the triangulation process.
Keith has already given us a lot of options in Outliner, and I like the fact we can switch them on and off, but to be quite honest, there’s a lot I would use only very occasionally and most of the time they’re switched off. I’d hate to create any unnecessary work for Keith, but when I open ‘Outliner’ and close ‘Binder’ and Inspector’ and just look at all those acres of space on the right begging to be filled with ever-changing pertinent information, I’m in agreement with Marcus in thinking that Outliner would be a Killer App. if we could just add extra columns and drop in a few analytical icons. The Document Notes field would also be extremely useful (although not essential) in Outliner, however, I think that’s already been discussed elsewhere. I just don’t know how difficult all this would be for Keith.
I would happily sacrifice the ability to print out (hopefully this will come later) for the ability to scroll down and see and analyze the immediate and cumulative effect of everything I write, in Outliner. I’m in love with Scrivener. I don’t want to have to leave the programme to do what I need to do. I want to be able to write and punch in a few icons that refect what I’ve written and know that this will then show up in the overall analysis.
I have tried putting the icons in the Documents Field and then printing it out through Compile Draft, but you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get there and although all the icons are present, it’s not visually very clear and it’s hard to see any overall patterns.
That’s it for now. Sorry it was rather long-winded. I’d be very pleased to hear any comments, particularly from Keith and AmberV.
Ike

Well, I’m going to give it a go. It’s a little hacky, but since I don’t print scene headings incorporating your icon scheme (slightly modified) has already made Outliner immediately more attractive to me.

See the attached image - I’m placing icons as the leftmost characters in the Title field, which means I can scroll through a long outline and just be casting my eyes over the glyphs. Very nice, indeed.

Next step, I think, is to build a Scriv template that includes the legend as a document. That saves trawling through the character palette (just copy-and-paste), and could be opened up momentarily in a split while one is still memorising the glyph scheme.

As to your missive, I couldn’t agree more. Scrivener’s beauty is just in how unassuming it is.