Outline a chapter

Is there some way to outline a chapter? Not the “sub-documents” of a chapter, whatever that means, but the real actual chapter like it will appear in the published book?

Having one continuous flow of an outline is much more useful than an outline for each “sub-document”. Have never seen “sub-documents” to chapters in books.

Please provide some insight to the logic missing so far.

What do you mean by “outline”?
Do you mean layout?

A sketchy summary of the main points of an argument or theory
Describe roughly or briefly or give the main points or summary of
“sketch the outline of the book”; “outline his ideas”
Draw up an outline or sketch for something
“outline a speech”

Taken from WordWeb Pro 8.23

It’s better if you describe what it is you want instead of quouting something. A published book seldom has an outline…

Do you mean a synopsis?

In order to publish a book you have to have a plot a storyline synopsis some kind of an idea and the best way to begin writing for some folks is to outline your plot storyline synopsis idea…

Then you can flesh out this outline and write a book.

I now understand and realize why Scrivener doesn’t have an outline which is completely unrelated to what is called outliner in Scrivener. There’s a lot of people who don’t understand or use an outline I apologize for not being one of those.

By the way taking my words out of context and making your own argument with them is not very useful or helpful I certainly hope you didn’t mean to do that on purpose.

Is there some way to outline a chapter? ... like it will appear in the published book?

Is there some way to outline a chapter? Not the “sub-documents” of a chapter, whatever that means, but the real actual chapter like it will appear in the published book?

Two entirely different meanings, mine is the 2nd one yours is the first.

I give up. You obviously don’t want any help.
Good luck.

Hi Bill,

FYI, I write fiction, so I believe I know the type of outline you are referring to.

That said, I am unaware of any universal standard or format for outlines in fiction. I’ve seen outlines that were bulleted lists, and outlines that were simply paragraphs of text, and hybrid things that were a blend of those approaches.

When I create outlines, I usually just create a document called Story or Synopsis or something like that, and write out the summary of the story in text. That document goes in my Story Dev folder, so it is separate from my actual Draft and does not print as part of the compile. (Although I can print it seprarately if I want to.)

I would think most writers using Scrivener would do something similar.

Besides havng it exist and having the ability to reference it and to print it out, what do you want to do with your outline?


Hi Jim,

Thanks for the reply. I wrote the post outline chapter because I was confused by the outliner mode in Scrivener. I thought it was an outliner which allow you to outline the story.

I have done the exact same thing as you describe. In my research folder I have a folder that I call outline which contains text files for each chapter which are outlines!

I just hoped the Scrivener button on the menu marked outliner had some relationship to an outline. Just too much to hope for a guess.

Once again thanks for your reply.

Ah, I see now what you mean Bill.

It sounds like you’re doing this:

Research (folder)

  • Outline (folder)
    ++ Chapter One (Document) (document contains outline of this chapter)
    ++ Chapter Two (Document) (document contains outline of this chapter)
    ++ Chapter Three (Document) (document contains outline of this chapter)

    ++ Chapter Twenty-four (Document) (document contains outline of this chapter)

Is that right? And in your Draft folder is your actual writing/story?

If so, there’s nothing wrong with doing it that way, but you can also do something very similar within the Draft folder itself, like this:

Draft (Folder)

  • Chapter One (Document or Folder, doesn’t really matter) (Synopsis contains outline of this chapter)
    ++ Scene 1 (Document) (document contains draft of the scene)
    ++ Scene 2 (Document) (document contains draft of the scene)
  • Chapter Two (Document or Folder, doesn’t really matter) (Synopsis contains outline of this chapter)
    ++ Scene 3 (Document) (document contains draft of the scene)
    ++ Scene 4 (Document) (document contains draft of the scene)
    ++ Scene 5 (Document) (document contains draft of the scene)
  • Chapter Three (Document or Folder, doesn’t really matter) (Synopsis contains outline of this chapter)
    ++ Scene 6 (Document) (document contains draft of the scene)

  • Chapter Twenty-four (Document or Folder, doesn’t really matter) (Synopsis contains outline of this chapter)
    ++ Scene 72 (Document) (document contains draft of the scene)

(I’m making an assumption that you like to break up your scenes, one scene per document. :slight_smile: If that’s not the case, for example if your lowest level is a Chapter document that contains all of that chapter’s scenes, then just lose the ++ Scenes in my example above. Your chapters would look like this: + Chapter Three (Document or Folder, doesn’t really matter) (Synopsis contains outline of this chapter) (Document contains scene drafts for the chapter). )

Advantages to keeping your outline in the Draft folder is that you’re not keeping the chapter outline in two places. It’s all in the Draft folder, along with your actual writing. So if you decide to change something, you just do it in the Draft folder. If you want to confirm a story point, you do it in the Draft folder. You don’t have to bounce over to the Reference folder to do any of these things, and there is less chance of your outline and your actual writing getting out of sync.

This is where Scrivener’s Outliner comes in. If you display your Draft folder in the Outliner, include Synopsis as one of the columns, and then collapse the view so that only Chapters are being displayed, and hide the Inspector, you’ll get a concise outline of your entire book. If you switch the view to Corkboard, you’ll get an another view of it that you may prefer.

But perhaps your Chapter outlines are too detailed or lengthy to keep in the Synopsis. If that’s the case, another approach is to keep your Chapter outlines in the Document Notes for each chapter. To view them, show the Inspector, and collapse the Synopsis and General Meta-data sections, so that only Document Notes is displaying in the Inspector. Collapse the Binder or Outliner to Chapter level. Then as you cursor through the Binder/Outliner, the outline for each chapter will be displayed in the Inspector.

So there are a number of ways to accomplish keeping a chapter outline in Scrivener. In the end, it comes down to personal preference. And keep in mind, what works for one story might not work for another. For me, that’s part of the beauty of Scrivener, that it supports different approaches, so I can change they way I work on different stories.

Just some food for thought. Let me know if any part of my examples weren’t clear.


Hi Jim,

Wow, that is a lot to digest but I think I follow most of it.

I don’t like the idea of breaking the chapter down into scenes my mind doesn’t quite think that way. I viewed the Mac tutorial on outliner and didn’t get a clear picture of how I could use it and that was the reason for my question initially. Your explanation is much clearer to me and I will give that a try tomorrow morning in my next writing session.

I appreciate all the effort you put into that explanation I hope others will read it also and gain some perspective on using Scrivener.

Thanks again Jim.

For what it’s worth, I’m using the same approach – folder for each part, folder for each chapter, document for each scene. I’ve taken the relevant paragraphs from my outline and placed them into the summaries of each part, chapter, and scene, so when I view them in the outline the Title/Summary column remakes my outline. I also have custom metadata for POV character, elapsed time, event dependencies, and some of my plotting stuff.

Having scenes be separate documents within the chapter folder gives me a lot more flexibility in moving them around down the road – I simply drag a scene document to its new place and it keeps all of the metadata associated. If I use a single document per chapter, I not only have to cut and paste, I have to mess around with the metadata.

Hi Jim,

Not successful in finding a workable way to OUTLINE the story line than using my old method. Will continue to try out your examples, have used two of them this morning, but still not able to turn my brain around to accepting any thing seen so far.

I truly appreciate your efforts and am sure someone reading the examples will benefit from them.

Also, Devin, thank you for your input. Unfortunately, what works for one may not be right for another.

Hey Bill,

No worries! Just some ideas to play around with.

While some ways are more suited than others to leverage Scrivener’s features, there’s no wrong way, as long as you’re getting your writing done. :smiley:

Let us know if you have any other questions.