Multiple Binders in a single project?

I’ve started playing around with the trial version of Scrivener in the last day. I’m currently using a different program, but wanted to give Scrivener a try. I’ve looked at it several times over the last few months, but didn’t really try and use it.

Anyway, I have a question about binders.
In the program I’m currently using, I can create something that’s analogous to a binder. It’s a listing of all the files associated with a project, but using that program I can have more than one of them. This is important because if you’re doing work on a trilogy, for instance, and you have a lot of chars that appear in all the books, when you make a change in one character bio, the change shows up in ALL the ‘binders’ for your books.

For instance, I have two projects that I’m working on. One is a prequel to the other. I put them in different binders, but they actually live in the same directory. And the character bio, while it’s accessed from two different binders, is actually the same file. This means that when I make a change in the bio, the change shows up in both places.

Does Scrivener have any way to do that? I could probably kinda hack around using collections, but honestly that’s doesn’t seem as useful. Plus, I’d need a different collection for each book, which means when it came time to compile the book, I’d have to move everything for the book under the draft heading. So if each book had twenty chapters, I’d have to move in the chapters for one book, then remove them, then move in the chapters for the next book.


Hello -

I can’t help you when it comes to the binder question. I haven’t ever heard of anything like that but I am also not the most experienced Scrivener user. I will leave that to someone else to answer. What I can tell you is how I do things. I am writing an epic fantasy book. My setup is to use two pieces of software. I use Scrivener to write the book itself, and I use myBase by wjjsoft to keep track of things like character bios and research.

The reason I don’t use Scrivener for my research is because I read an article that said that Scrivener is designed for average amounts of research, but if you are doing anything significant or substantial in that regard, that it might eventually slow things down. I don’t know if that is true, but it was enough for me to use a separate program. I also don’t know if that would apply to you, but it does sound like you have a pretty major project underway, so I thought I’d mention it in case it does. Also, I don’t like having my research located under my chapters. In my opinion, the research should have it’s own separate page with tabs across the top.

The nice thing about myBase is that it zip files every file you are not currently using so that using the program is very fast at all times, no matter how much data you collect. There are tabs across the top, and each tab contains the ability to have as many folders within folders to collect information. I have a tab for my characters. I have created templates that I can copy and paste for each character as I create them. I have a tab for my world. I have a tab for the history/customs of my world. I have a tab for research. There is a separate software you can buy at wjjsoft that allows you to capture entire web pages for perusal later. For instance, if I am doing research on medieval type weaponry and come across an article that has lots of cool pictures of daggers from those times, I can use this feature to capture the page. It inserts it where I want in the myBase software, and I can look at that web page in it’s entirety when I am not connected to the web. Since all of this is in a separate software, I don’t need to worry about binders, and I don’t need to worry about my information ever bogging down my writing. (Note: you might want to do some research and find out if the software you are currently using could ever get bogged down by too much research. The last thing you want to do is dedicate yourself to it, and find out you need to transfer all of your info somewhere else later.)

Some folks do use myBase to write their books, but it is not ideal for that purpose. It is best designed for massive collection of lots of information.

For the writing of my book, Scrivener is AWESOME! I highly recommend you spend more time with it. You’ll definitely want to spend the time to go through the interactive tutorial (located under help). My favorite feature is how you can tag each section with any keywords you want. For instance, let’s just say you are on page 600 of your book. Suddenly you realize that your main character (James) needs to be a happier character than you have him now in order for the story to work.This means you’ll have to go through the entire book and find every location where James was talking to someone or was mentioned by someone else. Major pain. If you took the time to add keywords to each section like the following: “James - spoke”, “James - talked about”, then you can do a keyword search for those keywords and all of the sections that have those keywords will appear on the left side of your screen under “search results”. Just click on the section to edit it. This is one example of how powerful this program is.

I consider the use of both programs as the ideal situation for my writing. Both are excellent.

Thanks for your thoughts. I’m not really sure I’d need something like myBase as my research isn’t all that extensive, plus the whole point of using Scrivener is for me to be able to use one program. Honestly, the main reason that I’m considering it is because they’re dangling a iPad ap in front of me. The other program I use works just fine, has more functionality than Scrivener (more than I need, actually) but there will never run on an iPad.

The other reason I like Scrivener is that it seems to store your data in more or less plain text (rtf) format. It would be nice if it named those files what I called them, that’s not that big a deal. As I mentioned, it has less functionality than the program I’m currently using (no timelines, for instance), but those functions are locked into the format that the program uses – so the export is crap. Also, it’s ugly – which I’ll admit is petty, since when I’m writing I shouldn’t be thinking about things like that. Still Scrivener looks much nicer.

The lack of multiple binders might be a problem though as keeping character information updated across several different projects will cause problems eventually.

I think in this case people nestle folders. You have your binder (the trilogy, as a whole), then one folder for each book, then under each book, you’d have the rest of it. You either dig the way Scrivener works, or you don’t, I think.

Here’s an author using Scrivener in exactly the way the OP would like to do.

Yeah, I second reading that case study, that’s what I came here to point out. A lot of serial authors (novels; tv seasons; etc) use the “Draft” folder as a container for each work. So they’ll put a series of top-level folders in the “Draft”, one for each discrete work, and collapse the other folders unless needed. This way all of the books can benefit from a common resource pool. Character evolutions can be handled seamlessly. Minor characters from book one that become major characters in book four can be easily unearthed and consistency checked.

What you read regarding scale is probably a subjective declaration that was made about truly large amounts of research data. Scrivener’s model is actually quite robust. The thing that breaks down first is the automatic routine backup. If your project grows to be larger than a gigabyte or so, then it can take a while to close the software. That means disabling automatic backups for that project and handling backups manually. Once you accept that transition, 1 to 10gb of research data is large, but not ridiculous. Sheer byte size is only one factor though. Some people are accustomed to a more robust database environment with a programmable query language for making sense of 200,000 articles—Scrivener’s not the best choice for that. So, when you hear people talking about reaching a limit in Scrivener’s usefulness with large scale research, you are hearing people talk about 100,000+ PDFs and tens of gigabytes of research—not really so much the: I have 5mb of background data for my universe. Personally I like to keep my projects below 200mb because I like to back up a lot. When I say average amount of research, that’s about what we mean.

And, if Scrivener does get a bit slow with your universe data, it’s not that difficult to salvage the situation. You can very easily bulk export from the binder as files and folders, and then clean up the binder and keep it taut and focussed on the work itself. The research can either be moved to a slower moving (and thus less frequently backed up) project, or some other technology entirely.

But then you wouldn’t be able to call them “$200 Day: Aftermath” because that is a filesystem violation. Nor would you be able to have a “Preface” for book one and a “Preface” for book two. Our way lets you call stuff whatever you want, and since you shouldn’t ever be loading or messing with those RTF files anyway—this really shouldn’t matter at all what they are called on the disk.

wince Yeah, I wouldn’t want a file named that on my computer.

actually you “can” do that. Try touch '$200 Day: Aftermath' Performing any operations will require \escaping the $ and : or single quoting the filename.

Pragmatically this is a larger issue as most file IO libs do some level of sanity checking.

Yeah, but I like not having to check documentation when trying to access a file, you know? 8 or fewer characters, no special characters aside from dash or underscore, no spaces. :smiley:

I found the following on a test server while doing UAT troubleshooting. It was created by an app with “business intelligence”. Information changed to retain my employment. This is exactly how is showed in the listing

According to the vendor there was nothing wrong with the file naming and the problem was that we were not using the correct file system type. The production system create hundreds of these files every day. It is so much fun to watch newbies attempt to do directory clean up…


Does that work on Windows, though? I wasn’t aware that you could circumvent the numerous punctuation marks prohibited by NTFS.

I believe it does, but I’ll need to spend some time figuring out a way to do it without using code (meaning I don’t want to install visual studio, again (this is what happens when one finally breaks free of any real development work)).

From cmd.exe edit File --> Save As $q@fish File --> exit dir
That blows.

It does choke on : and \ though.

As a software engineer, I wouldn’t be using a naming convention like that. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t do that as an author either. I understand what you mean though, and while I could point out that there are many easy work arounds for people who WOULD name a chapter something like that, it’s not a bug or anything, so there’s no sense in changing it. Certainly it’s not a deal killer WRT using Scrivener.

Well, I was thinking more along the lines of an internal note, or even a scene title or a sub-scene paragraph sized chunk where the title isn’t meant to be a visible part of the final book—document titles can be used for all sorts of things—but as you say the specific example wasn’t really the point. It’s more a matter of granting freedom from worrying about the technicalities of how your operating system works, or even just the freedom to be lazy and have 89 documents called “scene” or “Untitled” if you don’t need up-front clues in the title.