names and locations

if i set up a folder in the binder for characters and a separate folder for locations, I’d love a way i could highlight a name and get the option to place in that particular folder as a page which i could then use to have character or location notes etc.

Sorry, I’m not really sure what you mean. Could you clarify, please?

Do you perhaps mean linking? Using links, you can highlight a characters name, right-click, go to "Scrivener Link > " near the bottom of the contextual menu, and then you’ll see a series of menus corresponding to everything in the Binder. Just located the character or location sheet and you’ll get a little hyperlink looking thing that you can click on and it will take you to the linked document.

i don’t mean linking. what i mean is - i have a folder in the binder called characters. what i have to do now is if i come up with a new character, i create a new text doc within the characters folder and place all character details there.
After the doc is created i can then append information.
what i would like is to be able to within the chapter i am writing, highlight a name and have an option to create that text doc within the character folder - or location folder as the case may be.
It’s a very minor thing i know, but it would reduce the need to have to stop writing and create a new page and then fill in details then page back to the actual work.
it happens in Jer’s novel writer - add to database.
i’m using both programs for separate projects, and they are equally good - best writing resources i’ve tried in over 20 years.
Hope this helps.

Are you aware of the possibility to have two documents open at the same time? This helps a lot.

If its just the question of not interrupting the flow of writing, you can simply open the scratch pad, jot down some notes and take care of them later.

Although I personally for that purpose use the Notes application that comes with Mac OS X.


You can simply create an empty document in the Character folder, and copy & paste the name of your new character. This should required just three or four seconds.

Also, I dont’ know if this may help you, but I use the Keyword HUD to list all my characters, and drag them to the index cards of each document where that character is present (this adds the character name to the Keyword pane of the relevant documents).

When I want to retrieve a character, I go to the Keyword HUD, select the name I’m looking for, and press Search. A list of documents contining the character appears in the Binder.

Very easy to do, very fast. It lets me easily create the subplot of each character, and check if it is complete and coherent.


I just stumbled across a far more cooler feature that is maybe what ceepeequu wants:

You select any text you have written (for example, a description of a character or location), do a right-click (or cmd-click) on it, and then you have among others the option “Append Selection to Document”, followed by a complete tree of all documents available: Just choose the one you want to have this, and go ahead!

I think combining two procedures, one of which was just mentioned by Andreas, would allow you to use Scrivener much in the same way that Jer’s works. It has been a while since I have used Jer’s, but if I remember correctly, while you are writing, you can grab a word and add it to a database. At that point you can either throw text into it using a method very similar to Append to Document, or just leave it blank if you prefer.

What I would do is set Scrivener to open clicked links in an alternate editor (Preferences>Navigation). This makes it so that when you click links they open in the other split, rather than replacing the current document. Next, as you are typing and come across a character you wish to add to your records, simply highlight their name and press Cmd-L. This will automatically create a new document, and link the selected word from the old document to the new one. The document will get an automatically generated name based on where it came from and the date. The first thing I’d do is change this, but if you are in a hurry you can always do that later. Then use Andreas’ tip to quickly move text into this new document, or leave it alone if you will. Since the split is open, you could also easily drag text between the two.

Remember that Cmd-Opt-Control-E and R can be used to jump between splits.

All documents created this way will be placed into a top-level folder called Notes. So at the end of your writing session you can find them all there, and move them to a more appropriate location.

It is perhaps… 95% as slick as Jer’s feature, but since Scrivener uses full documents for all things, it is ultimately much more powerful. You can assign them meta-data, index cards, keywords, and everything else. Even throw them into an Appendix and export them.

AmberV, thank you for explaining this. I didn’t knew it yet, but I am amazed! :open_mouth:

This Scrivener is … incredible!

hey thanks, I’m going to have to read a few of those replies very slowly because i’m not up on HUDS and keywords yet. the append things is great, but it doesn’t become great until you actually create the Character page that you want to append to, and i know it’s only a few seconds to go out of what you are doing and do that, but what I’m suggesting is being able to create that page with no obligation to stop what you are doing at the time.
but what the heck if that’s what it takes, I’ll do it - the rest is so good at making writing better.

Oh, there is one other thing you can do that is along these lines. Unlike the prior example though, it requires a little mouse usage. When you drag text from any application, including Scrivener, into the Binder it will create a new document with the text received. All text goes into the body, and also populates in the title and synopsis areas, but truncated to fit those forms.

In the case of just wanting to grab a character’s name for future use, you could double-click the character’s name to select it, and drag it off into the appropriate location in the Binder. Then simply use Cmd-[ to go back to the place you were writing, if you do not wish to do anything further with the character.

Why not keep a running scratch pad of such notes – using Scrivener’s scratch pad functionality, say – and then split it out to the various character pages when you are done writing for the day?


Or, you could lock the working document in place first, to prevent the newly created document from automatically taking over the editor focus :slight_smile:

Forgive me, this might be intrusive, but I am puzzled about that type of understanding what writing is. Does that mean you start writing without even knowing your characters??? :frowning: This sounds to me more like a filmmakers fantasy about how writing looks than like writing is in reality. In films, writers are mostly writing in a frenzy, but in reality this is rarely the case. Writing is more puzzling words than anything else, and you usually can easily afford some seconds to click somewhere. (There is a statistic that the usual writer actually writes only 15% of the time he spends at his desk - the rest is internet, emails, playing around, wasting time…)

I’m not the original poster, but it seems to me your “understanding of what writing is” is just as narrow. I spend a fair amount of time staring out the window, it’s true, but once I get rolling it would indeed be distracting to hop over to a completely different document, even in Scrivener. (That’s why Full Screen mode exists, isn’t it?) Much of the “puzzling over words” part takes place in the second and subsequent drafts, while the first is about getting things down.

As for knowing my characters in advance, I may know the main character, sort of, when I start, but I probably don’t know all of his friends, enemies, and neighbors. It’s quite common for me to invent a character on the fly as the story situation demands, and then go back and figure out who he is later.

Different writers have different approaches. I’m glad yours works for you; please realize that those of us who do things differently don’t appreciate being insulted.



I didn’t intend to insult anybody, if so, then please excuse and blame it on my limited knowledge of the English language. Sometimes it is difficult to find the right tone.

However, Scrivener provides the annotation feature. Supposed one is “in the flow” (a mode I know as well) and an idea comes up, the easiest thing would be to hit Shift-Command-A to switch the annotation mode on, jot down whatever it is, press shift-command-A again and keep on writing - and care for these notes afterwards. The “flow” does not stay forever, and it never hurts to go through what one has written and to take out what does belong elsewhere. (I did it before in “civil” textprocessors with special characters: He opened the window and looked on @@I’ve got to find a picture of the landscape I can describe here@@. Then he… Most of the times it concerned research stuff.)

In fact I believe one will be more productive if one gets used to only one function for annotations of whatever kind than to have the choice among a dozen different functions in a given situation. If you have to think through “will I make this an annotation, or will I make a link, or will I use function X…?”, this will be a far greater distraction than anything else. One annotation habit, that won’t disturb, because you won’t have to decide anything: There is no choice, therefore no need to consider anything.

Scrivener provides here almost too many features, and I guess one maybe better adopt one of them and neglect the rest than to add one more. Which one, of course, is left to personal taste and writing style.

Annotations is exactly what I use for these sorts of things. I use them to jot down all of my notes and ideas while writing, even if the idea is relevant to another scene, I put it in the flow of where I was writing. I find that having that sort of context is useful when I go back through things a week later and act on my notes. It gives me a little perspective into my brain at the time that a stand-alone note does not.

But all of these methods that Scrivener has, they are there because we all think and write differently. It isn’t possible to address every writer’s wishes, but if you hit the ground with a good half-dozen ways to take these sort of stream of conscious notes, chances are most people will find something close enough to how their mind works–and natural human adaptability will fill in the gaps from that point on.

So in that sense, I don’t think it has too many features. These alternatives are very well hidden unless you need them. If you never press Cmd-L, you’ll never see the support folder where new notes get dumped, for example.

I’m fairly sure this got some air-time some months ago.

If you look at ceepeequu’s source - Jer’s Novel Writer, the data base becomes visible on a slide out panel. It is a brilliant and elegantly simple solution to the problem of setting stuff apart from your writing, but in a way that allows you to see it while you are working on page 1 or page 101.

The slide out panel got scotched and with it the database idea.

It is not just the name of a character or location details, or whatever, that can be added to a database but later, when the character or location is in the database lots of stuff that is relevant can be added to the character or location database notes. That is the nub of the problem. Scrivener’s different solutions are not database solutions - as brilliant as they are.

Avenir and Montage do the same thing. I wonder if they are all responding to an obvious writing need?

The need to have a character and associated notes for use anywhere in the story or another story using the same database is really self evident. I am not talking programing or coding here just the writing angle - having stuff you need readily at hand when you need to use it. As before, the coding is clearly a problem. That doesn’t make the need for the function any less important.

You need to eyeball Jer’s, Avenir, and Montage to understand exactly where ceepeequu is coming from.

I agree with ceepeequu. This is a worthy request for the Wish List. Maybe Version 2, when all the nuts and bolts are in place and secure and torture tested! Keith needs a challenge (ha ha).

I like ceepeequu’s idea - a lot. In the meantime, I’ll settle for Amber’s solution - CMD-L.

i need to go home fire up the macbook and try Shift-Command-A and command L.
then I’m going to therapy to discuss my distraction issues as so clearly revealed here by AndreasE.


The tricky thing about being a writer is that we are no longer allowed to say “you understood me wrong”, because it’s our core duty to put the words in order to be understood right. In any case of misunderstanding, one is therefor obliged to say “I expressed myself wrong, sorry”.

So, this is what I have to say: I expressed myself wrong, sorry. I didn’t intend to be rude against anyone. There were just some thoughts triggered in my mind by the discussion that I uttered without thinking enough. And in a foreign language, to make things worse…

:confused: If you’d see how often I switch from my work in progress just to have a look what’s going on in the Scrivener forum, you’d know that I should not blame anyone to be too distractable… :laughing:

So, sorry again.