POV markers

I am always very consciously laying out POVs (point-of-view) in my writing and I am also always looking over my drafts etc to make sure POVs are consistent within chapters. I think one great feature in Scrivener would be the ability to mark each file with a POV, much the same way we can mark the status or label files.

I know, I could use labels and label colors to do this but I am already using these for other purposes, such as an indication which players are in a scene, etc.

As you say, that is kind of what the label and status fields are for - many rename the “Label” field to “POV” and use that, for instance. However, an alternative is to use keywords - you can set up a characters category in your keywords HUD and assign them to documents. If you already use keywords to keep track of which characters appear where, you could create a POV category - e.g. “John POV”, “Karen POV”, and then do a keyword search on these terms to get a list of all documents with a particular POV. Or it might be that you can swap things around and use keywords for whatever you are using label or status for at the moment, so that you can re-assign one of those as POV.

All the best,

I understand all that, but all of these are hacks in a way. I was hoping that in the future there might be a more integrated way of doing this, particularly since POVs are such an important part of writing. Ideally, the software could include a number of user-defined labels/colors/markers.

Although the subject of different colour markers comes up from the time, I just don’t see how it would work. Having multiple colours associated with any one document would be confusing at best - and how and where would they all get displayed? Which would be displayed in the outliner or corkboard or binder, and how would you know without digging through menus to find out? The solutions I suggestion most certainly aren’t hacks - the whole purpose of allowing the user to rename the label or status fields is so that the user can use one of them for exactly this - POV. And whilst POV is a core part of writing a novel, it’s not a core part of writing a dissertation or thesis. Whilst I first developed Scrivener with novelists in mind, it has a wider usership and the features are designed to be flexible to that end.


I would use two sets of colors this way:

  • rename the Labels to Tension/Conflict, to use different colors to mark different conflict degrees; this would tint each scene according to its content of dialogue, action, or romance (and so on).
  • rename the Status to POV, to see the main character of a scene as a watermarked name, or a column in the Outline.
  • go to the Corkboard to see the development of conflict by color, and the POV by the watermarked name under each index card’s synopsis. The different color of each watermarked name would make easier to follow the POV balance.
    (- having Status colors would be great in the Outline, where the two sequences of colors would develop side by side).

Actually, this is how I’m using Scrivener these days to analyze a new plot (minus, the Status color).


That’s pretty much the way I do it, too, but with a few more tools in hand it would be even better to give you a better overview over the entire project.

Imagine this for a moment. You can assign colors to any file for, say the tension, as you describe. Then in the corkboard view you could say, “Show me this board with tension colors enabled” and voilá yo uwould get a quick overview over the drama in your book.

Alternatively, imagine Scrivener could create a graphic view of that in a separate window for you. Wouldn’t that be totally awesome?

Either way, I think the key to handling different, user-assigned colors/labels etc for a file would be to have the ability to filter the display to show you those colors only and ignore others. That would allow you to analyze your book in soooo many ways. Drama, tension, POV, players, locations, timeline, weather, whatever any one user could think of.

The problem with the current labeling system - while it can be used for POV - is that is limited to one thing. If I want to keep track of POVs and people in a scene, plus maybe the time of day, I’m simply out of luck and have to do some detours that would not be necessary if a user-expandable labeling and coloring system would be available.

I know this is probably quite a request, but if you think about it, I’m sure you will quickly see the huge benefit you would get by the ability of attaching all sorts of meta information to a file.

Why are you ignoring keywords? Keywords are searchable and you can have dozens if you so desire. I use them to track characters, themes, and you certainly could do time of day. Quoting from the manual:

I will have to look into that but I’m not sure if keywords can give me the kind of graphical overview I wish I had. If you take drama/tension again for example, it would be nice to see it ramp up using color changes, etc. The idea is not necessarily to have a list of all files in which I have a certain POV or tension measure. The idea is to get an optimal overview over the entire novel to see the placement and balance of these.

As I said, I haven’t used keywords much so I’ll have to take a look at that feature in a little more detail to see how it would work for me but from what I understand keywords are not able to give me that kind of a visual overview. Thanks for the heads-up.


I have actually thought about it - I don’t disregard suggestions without thinking about it - but I’m sorry, this won’t be coming any time soon, as I still think multiple colours per document would be inherently to the majority of users (including myself). Having to choose which colour setting is affecting everything at any one time would be cumbersome and mean more work in keeping track of the different colours than it is supposed to save. Using keywords for this sort of thing already allows you to filter by keyword to see a list of only documents with that keyword assigned etc, and 2.0 will make this sort of thing even more powerful. But 2.0 will still have one colour per document for the reasons I have specified in this post and my other replies to this thread.

Thanks for the suggestion, though!

All the best,

And remember that the title field can be useful for information, too, and given its prominent position is quite handy for that. Since descriptive scene titles will most likely not be printed in the book, you can use them for whatever you want. In the past, I’ve put some simple information in the front of the title, plus the descriptive title. Something like “Nessus,Teela - Conversation re breeding for luck”.

Sounds like an interesting conversation! (Ah, Wikipedia, I love you - something to do with Larry Niven and Ringworld or something…)

That would be the one. :slight_smile:

A phone call from my director, a few minutes ago. Paolo, told him, very interesting work you did, by representing the POV for each single scene. It helps me visually understand how the voice of the movie changes over time. Now, can you actually color these scenes, for an even easier reading of the ‘tone curve’?

Obviously, I had already used the colored set of labels for tension. Grrr…

I’m thinking to an alternate use of Labels and Status. Labels could return to be the POV, as I did in the past works. Status could be renamed the Tension; instead of using color, I could track tension with a semi-graphic representation, for example by using asterisks (* for neutral, ** for dialogue, *** form moderate conflict, **** for heavy tension/action, ***** for heavy action, ==== for romance). This would result in sort of a bar-graph diagram in the outline.

To be tried.

Cheers, Paolo

Sort of answering to myself: just done the try, and - no, asterisks are not as effective as colors for tracking tension. And, in any case, I find they can’t replace a real diagram made with a spreadsheet or the like.

But I notice that when editing Status items, you can open the Font > Show Color palette. Only, color cannot be applied to the selected text. If it was, this would give us recalcitrant anti-b/w writers the needed tools:

  • a POV color series (from the Label series), and
  • a Tension word/color series (from the Status series).

Tension (Status) colors should be applied to anything else; they would just color the Status word wherever shown (like in the outline).

I don’t know if color has been omitted by choice from the Status dialog, or for technical reasons. If there are not problems making it work, I admit I’m one of those who wouldn’t find it inconvenient.


Sounds to me, Guido, like you want something more like SuperNotecard (which is available for both Mac and Windows). That has a seperate tension “thermometer” as well as at least three different sets of coloured labels/flags.

I’ve used it in the past for outlining a new project, but overall I prefer Scrivener. It’s easy with SNC to waste time playing with the application instead of actually writing!

Maybe a found a satisfactory solution to my need for sophisticate color coding.

  • Basic colors correspond to a POV (Anna is red, Sara green, Lenny blue…).
  • Saturation corresponds to tension: low saturation (pinkish and so on) is low tension, high saturation (live red) is high tension.

This can be done by creating a set of labels for each character: Anna T1 for low tension/saturation, Anna T5 for highest tension/saturation.

This results in a very-easy-to read color coding in all views.