Organizing Supporting Materials

I wonder if anyone has advice how to set up a Scrivener project to accomplish the following:

I’d like to organize my text, which is based on a source document, into scenes. For each scene I’d like

{1} to be able to page through successive drafts; and in particular to always have access to flip back to the source text for that scene (*possibly by saving the source as an “initial draft”)

{2} to have a set of notes: specifically, for each scene, notes on each character which appears, and the location

{3} at the end, would be great to be able to print the main document – but also, separately, to compile and print the notes for each character; and the notes for each location.

Thanks for any advice ~

(1) & (2)
There are a couple of ways to do this, some of which will let you keep ALL of your meta-data (appearances of characters) for every draft, and others where the only history kept will be the main document text itself.

The easy way is the later; take a snapshot during every phase of editing. You can compare the changes between your current document and any of its snapshots; It’s a very handy tool; look at the videos (get to them under Help) for a good overview. Unfortunately, snapshots don’t keep up with Document Notes, Synopses, or Keywords; those only ever apply to the current text.

Keeping track of who is in a scene is best explained in this article: … -keywords/

For character notes, I’d just keep a document somewhere for each character, preferably in their own “Characters” folder outside of the draft. Pro-tip; if tracking with keywords, assign those keywords to your character notes documents. Then do a project-wide keyword search for that character and save the search (The Interactive tutorial covers collections, I believe, or just look them up in the manual under Help). If you keep your folder of character notes above your draft folder, then the search results will start with the character’s notes file.

The less easy, but ultra-flexible way of keeping track of previous drafts, is to duplicate your documents one at a time as you do a pass through your manuscript, un-checking the “include in compile” box for the older drafts and stacking those documents with the current version you’re about to edit. You don’t get the snapshot comparison features here, but you do get to do some advanced stuff by applying labels or statuses to those older documents (maybe set up Draft1, Draft2, etc… and apply them as you go). The advantage to this is that you can even set up a compile for all your “Draft3” documents if you want, even though you may be working on draft number 5. The down-side is that all documents would have to have a Draft3 copy, even if they haven’t changed since the second draft. Another advantage: Keywords that you later delete are still there for the older draft copies, as are the old Synopses, and the Document Notes can be edited as you go without losing those changes the way you lose track of them using Snapshots.

I don’t think this is the best way to go about things though, because it complicates EVERYTHING; keyword searches now have to be combined with searches on Status, and that can be tricky unless you’ve got a lot of technical expertise. I’d stick with the use of Snapshots for keeping up with multiple edit passes if you can.

Printing your character and location notes is fairly easy; (I assume) you can just load them into a Scrivenings session, possibly with titles visible, and hit CMD-p to print them; if that doesn’t work, select all the text and paste it into a word processor. Alternately, temporarily drag the characters & locations folders into the draft folder, set up a custom compilation setup for those documents, and compile. You could also create a collection and compile that, I believe (never tried it with non-draft documents).

Wow, Thannks Robert.

One thing I wonder about what you suggest – if I sort my character notes into separate files (sensible enough): can I view, sort, and print these by chapter of the main text? – i.e. so I have in effect one document which is my narrative (Chapter 1,2,3,N) ; and I can view character notes for each scene as I go and also, at the end, print a second document which has the same scenes – but for each scene only the character notes for that scene?

I guess in effect what I want is a set of documents which share the same chapter titles and structure – where i can read “down” (i.e. read the main text chapter-by-chapter, in order, or read the notes for each character chapter-by-chapter, in order); or i can read "across" (i.e. read a chapter of the main text, then character “a” notes for that chapter, then character “b” notes for that chapter, etc)…

And the key would be that if I change the chapter titles and structure, the change would apply everywhere. (*Else a change in chapter structure would require me revising manually all the different threads, which is prohibitively labor intensive)

Does that make sense? Is it possible?

I think I need clarification on what kind of character notes you are trying to keep. If it’s just presence of a character in one chapter, then keywords are more useful. If you are trying to keep a few notes about the character in relation to the latest version of a chapter file, then you should probably look at the Document notes in the Inspector pane. If you want to keep multiple versions of both the document text and the notes on each of your characters, then duplicating your documents and stacking them will give you a kind of horizontal view.

If you want to have a single document to keep track of character traits, so that they don’t (accidentally) change eye color, hair color, height, weight, ethnicity, etc… then keep one document in a Characters folder outside of your draft and use keywords as a common, searchable attribute that associates the two.

You can, of course, combine various features in this way; Keep a single document for the entire project for each character, tracking things that apply across most, if not all, of your book. Then also use keywords to track the presence of each character. And also use Document Notes to make sure you address inconsistencies in speech patterns, or what their goals are for that chapter, etc…

And of course, you can eschew the Document Notes if you prefer to keep individual character documents on a per-chapter basis; just stack those documents on the relevant chapter file, as if the chapter file were a folder (that’s what I mean by “stacking” them; documents can “contain” other documents in the same way that a folder can).

The “vertical” I think works best with keywords; Tag every document that you want to read in sequence with “Revision1” (No quotes or spaces), then create a search-based collection based only on keywords (click on the magnifying glass in the search bar to see all the search options). That will lay out all of the documents that have the keyword “Revision1” applied to them, so you can read them in Scrivenings mode.

If you go with this “stacks” method, then you’ll have to give up on using document titles that you have to change when you re-structure. What kinds of titles are you using that would require that kind of tedium? I ask because you can easily let Scrivener insert numbers for chapters if that’s what you’re doing for document titles, then you can rearrange to your heart’s content without adding any extra work.

How would this work?

  1. Make one source text or set of source texts, so labeled.
  2. Make one file per chapter in progress
  3. In each chapter, use Document Notes to store the notes on each character and location in that chapter
  4. Copy each chapter’s Document Notes when you finish the chapter and paste them into a master file called “Characters and Locations” or something.
  5. When writing chapters, use a split document view so you have the source text(s) in one window and each chapter in progress in the other.

This is sort of the way I work; apologies if I missed something.

Thanks guys. Robert, can you tell me what you mean by this:

additional detail on my objectives:

as noted, i’d like for each chapter to have a separate “notes” text for each character. these are to retain details like what a character was thinking at the time (but does not say in the text).

it’s important that these notes (for each character) stay “attached to” the main text for the associated chapter; and that i can optionally print each character’s notes along with the main text. i.e.: {1} print main text on even # pages and character text on odd pages; or {2} at least print the main text in sequence and then the notes for each character, chapter-by-chapter, in the same sequence as the main text (in this latter case, will be great to keep a shared set of chapter numbers).

(it’ll be useful, btw, for me to have a separate set of notes for each character, rather than one file for all characters merged together. ex so i can print main text, or “bob’s notes”, or “sally’s notes”, etc.)

Btw, another way i could imagine doing this – though i’m not sure if it is possible – would be to use something like “inline notation” – but where notes have tags (ex character names); and then upon printing i could opt to print text w. no notes; or text with only the notes tagged “bob”; or text with only notes tagged “sue”, etc. Can this be done?

So that sounds like you want to “stack” your character notes with the document (chapter/scene) they are present in. When you move the scene, you move the notes stacked “under” that document too.

Use keywords to distinguish your text from your notes, so that you can do a search on the “text” documents, and use the result to print out just the story. If you want to print out the story + your notes, then just compile as if the notes were part of your text.

Does this make sense? Try it by creating a “test” project, drag a couple of chapters and corresponding notes from your main work into it (will make copies, leaving the originals in place), and then try stacking, searching, and compiling, rearranging as needed to see how that affects things.

Inline annotations are an all or nothing kind of thing; you can exclude them entirely with a check-box in Compile, but you can’t selectively include/exclude them. Best to use individual documents as I describe above. Then you can use search-based collections to include main text + “bob” notes only (for in stance) by employing keywords as mentioned above as well.

Here’s an example set-up that I threw together. Every document in the draft is tagged with the appropriate keyword, and the search field options are all set to search for one or more keywords. Just type in “book”, then select the “save search as collection” option to create an auto-updating collection for just the book. Enter “book bob” to get both the text and notes for bob into another search based collection. You can compile the entire draft folder to get everything. Compile a collection to narrow down what files come out.

Character notes and search.png
Compile Options.png

Thanks, Robert. That looks perfect, just what I need. I really appreciate the super detailed guidance. (The screenshots especially help, since I’m a visual person and am still new to the tools and terminology.)

Will give it a try over the Thanksgiving holiday…

And thanks too, Brett, for helping me get this all straight.

You’re welcome! I may try Robert’s myself someday. I’m amazed at the smart sophistication of some of these set ups, at Scrivener’s flexible ability to make such arrangements possible, and at the generosity of Robert et al in sharing them with us in such detail. Agreed: I need the visuals as well. For some reason, when these are explained in mere words, my brain doesn’t process it well. Maybe I’m in the wrong profession…