Newbie confused over a couple of basics

Hi, new to Scrivener, really looking forward to writing my second novel on it. I watched the (entire)tutorial, and I’m setting up my project now. I’ve created Part One with 16 chapters (blank documents) ready to be written on, no problem.

What I want is to have all the chapters set up so that at any time I can see them as index cards on the cork board, so I can judge the flow of the narrative, rearrange if necessary, etc. That’s one of the key things Scrivener has that attracted me to it.

I notice that for each folder I can add as many index cards/scenes as I wish. But when I want to “lay them out” on the cork board, will I see all of these, or just the chapter headings? I know that I can look into each chapter and see all the index cards/scenes, but what about looking at entire chapters? As in, laying out all the chapters on the cork board?

Also…does Scrivener automatically save? Create backups? And just wondering: How come when I want to “save as,” I have to re-enter the file name completely? Or is there another way?

Thanks for any help- much appreciated!

Have you tried the Documents/Open/With All Subdocuments/ menu commands? That will put all cards “downward” from the current vantage point, into a single Corkboard. The caveat is that you can’t move them around or add new ones. There really isn’t a good conceptual or logical way to approach something like that on a purely flat interface like the Corkboard. We do have plans to introduce a feature that will let you essentially view Corkboards in a “stack” one after the other, but each entry in that stack will still have the same fundamental limitation as a single corkboard does: it’s a one-level, flat interface. So this will improve, but if you nest to four or five levels deep, the Corkboard in my opinion just isn’t the right tool for that particular job. It’s great, for isolating a level.

As for what might be the better tool, you could use the Outliner, which is designed precisely to give you a “deep” look at your manuscript no matter how much nesting you do. You can change the columns if you want more or less data on hand.

Yes to both. The default is a two-second idle timer. You stop to think for that long, it saves. So unless you are working furiously for long periods of time without stopping to rest your fingers or think, it should be saving fairly often.

Backups are created when you close the project, it stores up to five of them. You can tune how backups work in the Tools/Options… window. Personally I like to set it to twenty-five. Space is cheap, and I’d rather have a few weeks of backups than a few days.

I think that’s just a limitation in the programming toolkit we use. I’ve noticed a few places where it would be nice if it filled things in for you, but it doesn’t. Compiling is another. Are you just making backups? If so I’d recommend using File/Back Up/Back Up To… instead. Not only will it pre-fill in the name (along with a handy date stamp), it has the important crucial difference of not moving your session to the new copy. It can also zip the project in one step, which is nice if you back up to a network drive.

One last thing, you mentioned watching the tutorial, there is also a step-by-step tutorial in the Help menu, the “Interactive Tutorial”. It will make a project where you choose to save it, and you can work through that at your leisure. I do recommend it even in addition to the video as that just covers the absolute basics. Understand things like how the Outliner and Corkboard all fit into the grand scheme is part of the longer tutorial.

Welcome to the software!

Thank you so much for getting back to me promptly, and I will take your suggestions to heart.

index/scenes/corkboard issue: I guess if the main thing I’m looking for is to be able to see all the scenes, and rearrange/eliminate/adjust based on that, then the outliner would work fine. I just want to be able to do what I would if I had all the scenes written on index cards: lay them out, rearrange, etc. Trust me, I will NOT be nesting endlessly. I will have the main category (“Part One”) with all the chapter folders beneath that, and then the individual scenes/index cards. Seems to me that should be pretty basic and typical…right?


All right, sounds like the Outliner will be the best tool for what you need then. I like the way the Corkboard presents information, and within a single scope it is often my tool of choice, but if I want the big picture, I definitely go to the Outliner for that.

As for how you choose to structure things, that’s entirely up to you. One of the best things about Scrivener, in my opinion, is that you can use to express what you need to express. If that’s acts, chapters and scenes, great. If you need to cut down into scenes even further, you can do that too.