New to Scrivener - a few questions

Hi all,

I’m new to Scrivener and still trying to find my way around. I mainly use it to write articles that will be published on the Web, because (among other things) I find it useful to keep track of all my sources in one place.

I have a few questions:

a) Can I change the name of the highlight colors?

b) I have created a custom template, but when I go to File > Compile I don’t see the file I want - not even in the dropdown menu. How do I do it? I want to include the “Story” file. I uploaded the template in this post for reference.

c) When I get stuck trying to fix a paragraph between the 2nd draft and the final revision, what I like to do is quickly brainstorm two or three different versions of the same paragraph to find new/better ways to express the same concept. What is the best way to keep all those versions of the paragraph conveniently at hand without cluttering the main working area? I tried inline comments and footnotes but I don’t really understand how they work.

Thank you!
Gizmag story.rar (148 KB)

Hi, and welcome!

a) Highlight names cannot be changed, but you can make yourself a cheat sheet to give them meaning in a project, c.f. this example.

b) Every Scrivener project has three special folders, by default called Draft, Research, and Trash. These can’t be deleted, don’t have their own text or meta-data, always sit at the root level of the binder, and probably have a few other special properties I can’t think of at the moment. The Draft folder in particular is special because it is built to contain all the documents you’re going to compile; or to flip that around, Scrivener looks in this folder to find the documents available for compile.

In your template, you’ve renamed the Draft folder “Brainstorming”, which means that the brainstorming subdocuments are the ones showing up for compile, instead of your Story, which is just a regular document you’ve placed at the root level. Simplest fix would be to create a new folder for all the “Brainstorming” material (which I assume isn’t meant to be compiled), then rename the current “Brainstorming” (née Draft) folder and put your “Story” document inside that.

In the attached template, I did this for you by selecting all the subdocuments of “Brainstorming” and using Documents > Group to put them in a new folder, which I then dragged out to the root level and renamed “Brainstorming”. Then I just renamed the other (Draft) folder to Story Folder (really creative, right?), moved it down to where your Story document was in the binder, and put your “Story” document in that. If you open compile and expand to see the contents list, you’ll see your “Story” document there.

c) This is obviously a matter of opinion and finding what works for you, since my “best” way may not be yours–I’m pretty sure even my best way changes depending on the project–but what I’ve been doing frequently is just creating a new “scribbles” document as a child of the main scene, and using that to try out variations on paragraphs. Many times I just need one of these and litter it with various paragraphs from throughout the main scene, but you could easily just keep creating new documents (or splitting the first one) if you want a little more organisation than that. So if you find you’ve got twenty variations for a single paragraph, you could make that its own document with a clear title, and next time you come across another section in the main scene that you want to play with, just create a new “scribbles” document for that.

I use a template document for creating these, so it’s pre-set to have “include in compile” deselected–meaning it won’t compile, even though it’s kept in the Draft folder alongside the real manuscript docs–and it has a special notepad icon just to give it visual distinction. You could use a label or such for the same purpose if you preferred. Sections 8.5 and 8.6 of the user manual explain how to set up document templates and playing with custom icons. That’s all extra, though, to be clear; something I set up to streamline my process a bit and probably because I was procrastinating on the actual writing. You could easily just deselect “include in compile” from the inspector as you create the new documents.

This way my really scratchy notes and draft attempts are separated from the main document, but using Scrivener’s split editor I can easily see the original context. If you prefer to stay directly within the main document when you’re experimenting, and I sometimes do, especially when it’s just a small bit I’m waffling over including or how to say best, inline annotations work well for me. They’re easy to toggle on and off, just like bold and italic formatting, so simple to add at the moment of first drafting, and you can exclude them from the compiled document with the “Remove inline annotations” command in the Footnotes/Comments options of compile. (That’s usually set by default in most compile presets.)

I use annotations a lot when it’s a sentence within a paragraph that I’m unsure about, sometimes trying a few ways to say something. If it gets so long that the paragraph is really getting unreadable with all those internal variations, I copy the whole thing over to my scribbles document and have at it.
Gizmag story (151 KB)

Thank you very much for the full response!

I ended up going for something similar to what you do, even though I don’t use the concept of scenes (I use this template to write sci/tech articles for the Web). I created an “Alt ¶¶” non-compiled document in the “story” (draft) folder for the alternative paragraphs. Then, inside the “story” file I mark down the pars I’m unsure about with a number and refer back to the alt document for variations on each.

The other solution I considered was creating an “Alt ¶¶” folder where each file is a list of variations on a specific paragraph. I’d then use Scrivener links from the “story” file to refer back to variations. But that’s a little too clunky for what I need.

I may end up just keeping the inspector open, creating comments at the end of the paragraph and putting all variations there - I’m trying this out next.

PS: Thanks for the icons tip, I’ve put them all over and now the template is much easier to navigate!