Ongoing confusion re section layouts

Just noting my fear and disappointment again when trying to understand the overcomplicated under ilustrated information that is Scrivenor. This week’s bugaboo is “Section Layouts”.
When Scrivenor is “unavailable” either because a search function fails (cannot find “section” or “section layouts”); or when I can’t understand which of the “options” about anything are the simplest and most appropriate for me I’m not “controlling” my project. So, I default to another compromise this time it is no “sections” for me.

I hope to compile today. Hopefully I can undo the wrongs created by misdirection. Ultimately I am settling for an inferior manuscript.
Using a PC…
Poggio

You seem (indeed) very confused.
Your choice of words denotes it. (What do you mean by “no section” ?) … (Section layouts are not something that is searchable – no reason for them to be.)

Have you been through the interactive tutorial ? At the least ?
If not, you should. It’ll take you through the basics.

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The short answer is that a Section Type describes what a document in your Binder is: a scene, a chapter heading, an epigraph, whatever.

A Section Layout describes how it looks. Numbered? Titled? Both? Neither? What font and font size? And so on.

It’s not possible to have no sections in a Scrivener project. Even if you merge everything into a single document, that document will still have a Section Type, and you’ll still need a Section Layout to tell the Compile command what to do with it.

Section Types are discussed in detail in the “All About Files and Folders” chapter of the manual. (Section 7.6 in the Mac version.)

Assigning Section Layouts is discussed in (Mac) Section 23.3, which is in the “Compiling the Draft” chapter. Changing how Section Layouts look is explained in “The Compile Format Designer,” Section 24.2 in the Mac manual.

In addition to the Tutorial project, there’s a collection of video tutorials here:
https://www.literatureandlatte.com/learn-and-support/video-tutorials?os=macOS&category=43
These use the Mac version, but the basic principles are the same.

Oh, regarding fear. The Compile command is probably the safest place in all of Scrivener to experiment. It can’t and doesn’t change the underlying project, and you can’t change the Compile Formats that come with Scrivener.

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Thanks. I think basically Scrivenor is one of the best of its kind. So I have to wonder if all of the queries and answers indicate a larger amount of confusion about a program than normal. Seems like a lot of different problems come to the Scrivenor “help desk” that generate many “discussions” and “replies” which may or may not cover my particular problem. This answer above tells me where to go as if I haven’t been there. I have been and the explanatory text regarding Section “Types”? or is it “Layouts”? is unclear and requires actual illustrations of what is it trying to convey. I can see I’m not the only user who gets hung up at this point.
Regrettably after compiling my project it leaves no copy in Scrivenor for me to work on. This may not be uncommon and there may be a work around. So I will drop the Sections problem and go look for answers because I do not want to lose my project. Yikes!
Poggio

OK Apparently when Scrivener compiles it keeps a file (.scriv) somewhere … whew…

There are illustrations in the manual. Could you be more precise about exactly what you’re looking for?

This is not true. As I said, the Compile command makes no changes whatsoever to the underlying project. It remains exactly where you left it. If you don’t know where that is, though, it would be a good idea to figure it out.

Incidentally, the correct spelling is “Scrivener.” That might help give you more useful search results.

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  1. It’s best in your instance (for anyone in reality) to have a sound file management system, which assures you where your projects are. Therefore, setup a Scrivener Projects folder in your Documents folder on your hard drive.
  2. With your project closed, use File Explorer (Win+E). Navigate to the Documents folder and click on it and create a sub folder called Scrivener Projects. Done.
  3. Open Scrivener. Select File > Show Project in File Explorer. It will show you exactly where your .scriv folder (not file) is. Note it down on a piece of paper—I’ll get to it later. It’s recommended you never go into the .scriv folder since it’s really unnecessary but manage your project from within Scrivener only.
  4. So, from within Scrivener (with your project still open), select File > Save As, navigate to Documents > Scrivener Projects > [Type the name of the project in the File Name box] > Save. Exit Scrivener.
  5. This step is to put your mind at ease. Start File Explorer and navigate to Document > Scrivener Projects, where you’ll see the .scriv folder.
  6. Check you piece of paper to see where the project was saved before. Navigate to that folder and delete your project’s .scriv folder to the Recycle Bin. Don’t empty the Recycle Bin at this time—the old project location is your backup—for now.
  7. Go back into Scrivener and setup a backup regime for your projects using File > Options > Backups. Follow the guidelines in the user manual, because few follow a common pattern.

On the topic of losing your manuscript when compiling, well… that is highly unlikely to the extent of saying you lost your Word file when printing. As you can see, as with printing, Compile reads and compiles, but doesn’t edit the underlying content. Certainly, any application can go haywire, but you get crash reports and the like in such instances. As an added assurance, Scrivener saves your work after every two seconds of inactivity.

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No, it actually denotes that Scrivener is not a one-size-fits-all application. This concept is extended to Compile, where there are a multitude of ways to derive results customised to preferences a user wants.

Section Layouts

  1. There are stock Scrivener Formats under Compile, which cannot be edited, but they can be duplicated and saved as Project Formats (for use on the current project only) or My Formats (for on all Scrivener projects)—and edited at this point.
  2. To achieve this, right-click on an item in Scrivener Formats and select Duplicate & Edit Format, Manuscript (Times Roman) is a good starting point. The system will prompt a name like Manuscript (Times Roman) - copy (change the name if you like) and from the dropdown select whether you want it as a Project Format or My Format.
  3. The elements (Section Layouts for each Layout Name) within the newly saved format (Fonts, Size and a host of other things) is fully customisable.
    Section Types
  4. When writing as a beginner using Scrivener, I recommend (and this is my recommendation, which may not necessarily be what you or others might like to do) you setup your Chapter Headers as Folders in the Binder and your Scenes as Files (sub documents of each Binder Folder). So you’ll have Chapter with Scenes, Chapter with Scenes…
  5. You’d then have something like Once Upon a Time (as a Folder) - and in the Inspector > Customise Metadata Tab (3rd tab), you’d define it as a ‘Chapter Heading’ Section Type. Tick the actual name Chapter Heading, and if it doesn’t exist, create it there and then. (It’s a way of learning what you’re doing–giving yourself context.)
  6. The sub-files to the Binder Folder (your actual narrative) you could name Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3… and in the Inspector > Customise Metadata Tab, you’d define it as a ‘Scene’ Section Type. Again: Tick the actual name Scene, and if it doesn’t exist, create it there and then.
  7. Repeat for each Chapter and Scenes.
    Connecting Section Types to Section Layouts
  8. In Compile, you define the output (look/format/what fits where) by linking Section Layouts to Section Types by using Compile > Assign Section Layouts button.
  9. In the left box of the windows that opens you’ll have your Section Types (Chapter Heading and Scene types) listed and to the right the general look of your Section Layouts, where in this case you’d link Chapter Heading type to a Chapter Heading layout and a Scene type to a Section Text layout.
  10. That’s it. Don’t link things you haven’t got to yet. Keep it simple. You can always come back and do other linking, like Parts, etc. later.

This is not how the manual approaches things, but I’m sure it can help put it in a nutshell to get a half-decent compile out of the application.

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This is not bad advice, exactly, but for non-linear, non-planning writers (like me!) the biggest advantage of Scrivener is that it isn’t necessary to define your final structure up front.

If, like me, reading this sort of advice makes you anxious.
Relax.
Breathe.
It’s okay.
Scrivener completely supports throwing everything into a big pile and sorting it out as you go. You don’t need “Chapters” or “Scenes,” and you certainly don’t need titles.

If that’s the sort of writer you are, it’s useful to know that the various Scrivener project templates come with default Section Types out of the box, and will assign those based on the project structure without any action on your part. Just write what and how you want to write.

The caveat to be aware of is that Scrivener’s pre-supplied Compile Formats tend to assume something like the structure @Kevitec57 described. So if that isn’t your manuscript (or isn’t your manuscript yet), you will need to look at what Section Layouts are actually assigned to your Section Types. For instance, if your entire chapter-like object is in a folder document, you’ll want a Layout that includes the folder text, not one that only includes the title. Doing this isn’t hard, just don’t panic when the defaults don’t do what you want.

Edit: Another way to look at this is that Scrivener doesn’t care what structure you use, but the outside world does. So once you’re ready to transfer work to the outside world – even if just as a draft for your own use – you’ll need to think about how you want things to look. Until then, you do you.

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Yes thank you. I will save these directions. Usually I just search for .scriv because it is easier than trying to recall several suggested steps. I seem to recall Scrivenor allows users to select where they want compiled projects to be kept.

RE Section Types. At some point before I compile, Scrivenor lists all my decisions regarding Section Types. It occurred to me that I can use this list to compare to my compiled project and correct my mistakes. (I am going to check to see if this list of settings is still present after I compile. I expect it is.
“There are a multitude of ways to derive results customised to preferences a user wants.” This is Scrivenor’s strength and it can also create confusion when users, like me anyway, cannot always recall which preferences I chose. I use “default” settings whenever possible.
Also a “multitude of ways” involves a multitude of words so “actions” are included with “explanations”. People (me) often prefer simple.

  1. There are stock Scrivener Formats under Compile, which cannot be edited, but they can be duplicated and saved as Project Formats (for use on the current project only) or My Formats (for on all Scrivener projects)—and edited at this point.

I don’t know why this explanation is important.

  1. "To achieve this, right-click on an item in Scrivener Formats and select Duplicate & Edit Format, Manuscript (Times Roman) is a good starting point. The system will prompt a name like Manuscript (Times Roman) - copy (change the name if you like) and from the dropdown select whether you want it as a Project Format or My Format.

Since I don’t know why #1 is important I don’t know why I would want to achieve it. I’m going to check it out. Thanks

Scrivener both allows you to save projects wherever you want, and allows you to save Compiled documents wherever you want.

Whether it has been Compiled or not is irrelevant to the status or saving location of a project.

It’s important because you will need to know this as soon as one of the stock Formats doesn’t do what you want.

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Yes I think Kevitec57’s is good advice too. Once I amassed verbiage I have been trying to “cut and fit” it into scenes and sections into my Binder then assigning Section Layouts.

“you’ll want a Layout that includes the folder text, not one that only includes the title”. Yes I have learned to slow down and make sure I understand the layout options.

And I will pay more attention to telling Scrivenor where to save my projects. For now I am using the interactive project instruction in Scrivenor to create a dummy and try stuff out.

And I will breathe more. I assume others set up goals or deadlines. I’ve missed a few due to technical diffuculties. When my draft was done and I wanted to get my work out I had underestimted compiling.

Thanks for your time and expertise.

The main reason I gave a structured approach is because I belonged to the Scrivener Users Facebook Group for two-years and question on how compiling works (or as was often put: is impossible to fathom) were ten to a dozen week after week.
True, it is not an official L&L channel, but it had a significant audience (16 000 members). I eventually lost interest because the constant unqualified moans and groans, I’d expect happens in a hairdresser. Those hubbling and bubbling drowned out any sense of sound advice and drove prominent contributors into the doldrums with their insults and insinuations.

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So just like the rest of Facebook, then?

The structured approach is, as I said, not bad advice. It’s just not that helpful for someone who is 70K words into a manuscript that’s not structured that way, and who was encouraged by Scrivener to believe that it didn’t have to be.

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A very interesting discussion. I agree but might frame the discussion as different ways to use Scrivener when in either-
A. The creative phase where you organize Scrivener the best way to facilitate the creative/writing process
and
B. The output phase where you are sending to collaborators, beta readers, or editors. Here you to arrange more as Kevitec 57 suggests and carefully assign the section types so every Act, Chapter, or Scene is the same section type as all the other Scenes, Chapters, or Acts. Then you assign these section types to a particular layout appearance in the second Compile Panel.
I however like Kevitec 57’s approach of combining both with the understanding that where scenes appear may change as the novel is written and edited, but a scene unit will always be a scene unit no matter where it appears. Thus, it is important to be consistent with how you assign section types and be consistent.

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Maybe this is true in your work. It is not universally true, nor does Scrivener require it.

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“What happens in a hairdresser”? Not “just” a hairdresser but “a lengthy viisit at bad hairdresser”. This explains so much.
Sorry.

Incessant yakkity-yak, yakkitty-yak… worse than a train riding over joints in a short track, and no way of stopping the irritation.

I acknowledged that from the beginning, hence my agreement with you and my original post’s opening paragraph: “…Scrivener is not a one-size-fits-all application. This concept is extended to Compile, where there are a multitude of ways to derive results customised to preferences a user wants.”

I recognised that the OP needed help in compiling, so I offered a quick and easy, for what it was worth.

I’m a pantser too and reach a point where I need structure, else I’ll go on forever. And that’s where Scrivener allows me to jump in at any point, ever after 70 000 words, or in my case 110 000 words and seeI’m halfway done with no end in sight.

I have a loose structure now, which I use as a guide, but I don’t allow it to confine me.

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“there are a multitude of ways to derive results customised to preferences a user wants”
This “multitude” requires more visual and navigation aids for me and all the others who have presumably finished their projects and would like to see them Compiled. We need diagnostic tools too. Why does my Compiled project look like this? Why isn’t it including half of my project? etc etc Without diagnostics there is really no way to guess and check other than to Compile a multitude of times.
I’m pretty sure I’m lost in #4 Section Types and #7 Connecting Section Types to Section Layouts
One more go around and Compile Version 7 then I’m done for the day…
Poggio