Multiple Synopses

Trying to restructure my novel (read: outlining after having written lots of text) I finally found something I miss in the outliner and corkboard views.

My problem is the representation of text files on these higher levels of organisation. Currently, there is one major instrument for doing this: the synopsis. But there might be several layers of narrative structure you want to keep track of: the plot, the emotional state of the main characters, information on where the narrator lied and where this is revealed, references to other works of art, and so on.

Here is what I dream of:

  • the possibility to add text field columns to the outliner to handle these different layers (so you could hide and show the information according to what you are concentrating on)
  • the possibility of choosing which of these text fields shows up on the index card.

If this has been discussed before or there is a way you can do this already, please accept my apologies - I did not find it.


Thanks for your suggestion.

Hmm, the trouble with that - aside from the technical implementation, of course! - is that the different layers of narrative structure wouldn’t necessarily coincide with the way documents are broken up (into scenes, chapters or whatever).

(From a technical perspective, having more than one column in the outliner having to resize the height of the row could be problematic, not to mention the implementation of arbitrary columns in Scrivener.)

It’s a nice idea, but I can also see it becoming confusing having multiple synopses that can be switched in and out - it would be too easy to add the wrong type of synopsis and then have to figure out how to swap them around and so on. The current approach offers simplicity and there are always the document notes for keeping track of other aspects of the document, which are always available in the inspector - this is the kind of thing that document notes are intended for, in fact.

Thanks again and all the best,

Hi, Keith,

thanks for your quick response.

Of course, I accept your decision (it´s your program) - and I understand there are technical difficulties (like the number of attributes of a document becoming a variable set by the user).

So, just to clarify my suggestion in case it gets reconsidered someday - however unlikely that is …

I think this should still be handled by the user - she is responsible for choosing the right document size to promote her reasoning, structuring and writing.

Above, I should have written “the possibility of choosing which of these text fields shows up on the index cards” (with a plural -s), because what I had in mind was to make this decision for all documents at once.

If this does not prevent the potential confusion: I could do without the “choose the text for the index card”-option. The possibility of having additional columns in the outliner is more important. And that would not really mean “multiple synopses” - these columns would just contain additional information. (I just chose the title as a reference to the way the synopsis is implemented in Scrivener.)

I use document notes a lot, but only recently realized I cannot access them from anywhere but from the document they belong to. That´s the core of my problem - I find myself exporting the notes to collect them in a Pages document so I can view them all at once.

I have a list of questions for every document that I answer in the notes section:

  • What does this part of the novel contribute to the story / the plot?
  • What does it contribute to the mood of the book?
  • What makes the reader keep on reading?
  • What remains to be “fixed” in this part (apart from choosing the right words)?

My initial dream was that I could use a special section of the notes pane for each of these questions (titled something like synopsis, mood, puzzles and problems) and then look at the “mood” sections of all documents, for instance. This is possible by copying the mood sections into the synopsis, but I would really like to automate this.

(Of course, you could ask, why I want to see notes from different documents at the same time - after all, the cited questions refer to one document, not to the whole book. But consider deciding on the sequence of scenes - at least three of my question might be relevant then.)

Thanks again for a wonderful app and all the best,

You’ll still have to copy and paste them from the document-specific notes, but you might want to look into Project Notes, which is available by clicking the Document Notes title (it’s a dropdown menu) in the Inspector. Project Notes are accessible no matter what part of the project you’re working on.

I’m not sure if this will help in your specific case, Jan, but there’s always Cmd-L: [url]]

Thanks for your suggestions. I will certainly explore the opportunities of using links. And I guess I might end up using Project Notes for my own version of the outliner (lacking only the direct connection between rows and documents). It just never occurred to me I could use them this way.