Plot? I'm LOST in the cards?

How do others organise their writing, synopsis, and notes? Can you search through EVERYTHING in a file? My problem is I’m not sure if I’ve got one book or 3, so I’ve got 3 major folders for books. Then I’ve got a subfolder for each chapter. Then I’ve got cards in each subfolder. On all these scattered folders and cards are plot details and names and interactions, and I’m not sorting through them fast enough. Any ideas?

At first I was fascinated and delighted at the concept of moving cards around with chunks of writing attached to it. It is, after all, the whole point of having Scrivener! It’s an awesome idea.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve got the sort of brain that just needs a wide screen and 3 LibreOffice files: PLOT, WIKI, and WRITING! Help! I just can’t seem to remember where I’ve put everything. For instance, I have a few tricky plot rules which might impact a few scenes, but I can’t seem to find the plot scenes quick enough.

At the planning stage, I like to dispense with chapter folders and keep a book’s scene documents all in one or a very few (part) folders. That lets me view more of the plot in one go. You can also just add all the cards from one book into a collection to see them all at once easily, and then split the editor and look at the cards/plot that way.

Another view that’s handy is the outline view, which gives you the same information (and more), but lets you expand the folders to see the “cards” within.

Don’t start with chapter folders, start with only 4 folders named BEGINNING, MIDDLE, END and I DON’T KNOW. Put every card in one of these four folders and look whether they are starting to make sense (the I DON’T KNOW-folder is for cards you don’t know where to put or whether to use at all).

What if a character or device or place changes name? Is there a way to search & replace through the Synopsis and/or Notes?

Yes, the Edit/Find/Project Replace… tool is for all large-scale batch changes to text. We recommend backing up the project (you can use File/Back Up/Back Up Now) prior to running a project replace, as the wrong settings can make a mess of things.

To speak on the larger problem of how to organise: I would take a look at Labels and Keywords.

  • Marking plot with the Label is very useful as it gives each plot line a colour that can be used to tint various aspects of the item. For example you can set View/Use Label Color In/Icons and now your Binder is colour-coded.
  • However, if a particular item may have more than one plot line involved, then Keywords may be a better solution. You still get an associated colour, and you can add keywords to both the corkboard index cards and in the outliner.

Either way, you can search globally for all items marked a certain way. Try clicking the magnifying glass in the search toolbar and changing the mode to “Label”. Now you can type in a part of your plot line name and get a list of everything tagged as being a part of that plot. With keywords it is even easier, just load the keyword window with Project/Show Project Keywords, then click the keyword(s) you wish to search for and click the “Search” button in that window.

There are more advanced things you can do to make all of this easier. For example you can click on the magnifying glass and save the search as a “Collection”. Now whenever you view that collection (View/Collections/) it will automatically search the project again and give you a list of the returned items. Thus you could save a collection “tab” for each plot line and quickly flip between them. All of this is another area where it makes sense to break things down into smaller pieces. Keeping search results concise, and being able to tag and organise things by their smallest topical extent means you can slice and dice your work up into useful “views” in ways that a long linear text cannot so easily do, if at all.

No technical advice here, just a little writing counsel.
There are all kinds of readers, but a large contingent of them
Want what they call “nice easy reads”
That means straight plot lines, thin characters, and no back story after page 1.
If you are writing for these folks (most genre fiction, especially romance)
We strongly advise you NOT to change any character names.
We had a character who went by one name and several nicknames.
Never thought anyone could possibly get confused.
Oh yes, they did. And all wrote crabby reviews on Goodreads.
Do you know that site? It’s where literacy goes to die.
Sorry, winter puts me into a cynical mood. :unamused:

PS: Robert & Andreas are giving good advice.
Don’t worry about having an apriori perfect structure
Stories tend to grow, especially as characters talk to each other.

Thanks for all the technical advice above: I’ll have a play and if there’s any problems get back to you all. Cheers!

PS: Re backstory: Harry Potter, Wheel of Time, Game of Thrones? :wink:

But yeah, I hear you on dialogue! These characters either die, and one stops writing for the day, or come alive and the author gets hooked. It’s an amazing process hey?