Request for "Views"

Now that I finished my dissertation, I went back to work in my novel, and I found myself Googling for a feature that I need.

My novel has one main plot, and about four subplots, which are not told consecutively nor sequentially. So, it would be great if the Binder had another folder called “Views”. In this folder I could create sub-folders (for each plot line, for instance) in which I could drag and drop individual files from “Draft”, but organizing them in a different order and grouping. While in “Views,” I would be able to open a file and edit it, and the changes would be reflected in the original, and vice-versa.

This feature would simplify the managing of complex projects.

Besides the possibility of non-draft ordering (which could be of benefit to some of the more convoluted novels), what would this offer that saved searches on a plot keyword (or something) would not?

I’m not familiar with saved searches, but I imagine that they depend on a criteria. What I’m asking for is a way to hand pick the files and their order. I don’t think that I write convoluted novels, but the three novels I have written have more than one plot, and for dramatic reasons none of them had a linear narrative. “Views” would allow me:* To organize files in the corkboard, or nested folders, according to each sub-plot, without compromising my draft.

  • Have files in more than one place, as when a character appears in more than one sub-plot.
  • The ability to rearrange sub-plots, without touching the draft sequence.
  • The most important: Views would be a tool to structure and check the integrity of the novel.
    If saved searches offer this benefits, I’l like to know how to use them.

I’m afraid that “views” will not be possible in Scrivener’s current incarnation. There is no way that a document can exist in more than one place at the same time in the binder - this is a technical limitation built into the way I designed Scrivener, but also I’m not sure I like the idea of having things in more than one place (yes, I know it is possible in many outliners… :slight_smile: ).

However, I do think I could make some minor adjustments to saved searches in the future that - whilst not fulfilling your exact requirements - might help. Even the current system could help, in fact. For instance, you could use a label to determine which plot-line a particular document belonged to, and then search on the label. That would provide you with all of the documents in that plot-line. You would have to be a little creative with the names of the files so that when you sorted the files in the search table, they appeared in the order you wanted, though.


Saved searches would definitely solve a two of your criteria. I like to use labels for plot threads, so I’ll use that as an example, but this is easily applicable to other meta-data methods. Say I want to isolate one thread out of the entire book, and display it as if it were an end to end sequence of scenes. This would let me check continuity, tension flow, and so on. In the Quick Search, click the magnifying glass and choose Label. Then type in the name or part of the name of the plot thread you wish to isolate. Instantly, you should see a list of them appear in search results. Now, click the magnifying glass again, and at the bottom you’ll see a choice to save your search. Enter a name you’ll remember, and press Okay. A special item should now appear in the Binder, near the bottom. It will look like a smart folder, but actually is almost like any other Binder item. You can add notes to it, label it, and so on. To re-run the search it contains, just double-click.

Using this method you can create searches for each character you wish to focus on. As Keith said, search results cannot really be ordered in a free-style sense.

The drawback to all this is that it doesn’t really work for collecting bits of the story that do not yet have a common theme applied to them. You’d have to work kind of backward. Instead of creating a “view” and dragging bits together for analysis, you’d instead apply a keyword (or some other meta-data) to each scene you wished to add to this collection, and then run a search for the keyword.

I can’t try it now… But, what happens, if you open the .scriv package, and make an alias of all your documents? Would they appear in the Binder? Or, maybe you can move them out of the package, and then drag them to the Binder?


Not quite sure what you mean, here, Amber… If you have a Saved Search for, say, a label entitled “Ted”, and after creating the saved search you changed a document’s label from “Derek” to “Ted”, that document would show up in the saved search next time you ran it, because it is the terms of the search that are saved rather than the actual documents. But it’s late, so that probably isn’t what you mean.

Hi, no, aliases created in the .scriv packaged would not show up in the binder. Scrivener doesn’t scan the contents of the .scriv packaged at all, in fact. It expects certain files to be there and uses them to tell it what other files are there. And if you moved them out of the packaged and dragged them back in, you would then have two separate documents. They would not keep in sync when edited.


Actually, the type of situation I was describing would be if you wanted to gather a bunch of documents together that, in your head, you knew were associated with “Ted,” but as of yet, none of them have actually been marked in anyway as being associated with “Ted.” Using a view, you could create a new one, drag these mentally associated documents together, and then handle their meta-data appropriate–or not at all, just leaving their common association in the view as connexion enough. Using saved searches as views, you would have to physically mark the passaged as “Ted,” and then collect them. It is just a different way of going about it. I doubt anyone could prove one way were better than the other; but it is a scenario that highlights the difference between a free-form collection view, and a mechanism which requires pre-existing data to function.

I see how saved searches work, and they are, no doubt, very useful. But the can’t replace “Views” because:* They don’t let you use the corkboard. Perhaps I’m an odd writer, but I’m very visual, and like to “see” the reference materials I’m using, “see” the cards for each document, and so fort. Which brings me to the second, and most important limitation.

  • I can’t rearrange the documents.I used to be a computer consultant, and a programmer, and I know that you can devise a number of clever naming systems that would allow you know at a glance, what kind of variable, or method, or whatever you’re looking at. But naming systems don’t seem to work very well in writing. Perhaps tags come close. But, at least in my case, I need a visual way to organize my material. I abandoned Ulysses because its developers refused to use the folder metaphor, although they claimed that by using filters you could arrange your documents in infinite number of ways–which is probably true.

Of course, I was not asking to have the same document repeated a number of times, but for the same document to appear in different places. Not in the “Draft” folder, but in another special folder called “Views”, in the same fashion that “Research & Notes” behaves and holds different kinds of data than “Draft.”
Going by to my original proposal, I see “Views” not as a way to fish, or filter, what you already have, but as a way to structure a long piece of fiction, either before you write the whole thing, or to rearrange it as you go along–which is my case.

I’m sorry that this won’t be a functionality in Scrivener, and I shall keep looking elsewhere, because such a tool would make my life a lot easier.

Try actually selecting more than one search result at once. Multiple selections should build an temporary Corkboard with the items in it. If you have your preferences set up to open folders as an edit scrivenings session, this will not work for some reason. It seems the folder preference is adjusting multiple-selection behaviour. Cmd-A to select all search results in the fastest way to get the whole lot of them.

Note this also works with regular multiple Binder selections too, not just in search results. In a way, this could be used to create quick temporary “view,” without the ability to save it or re-order it of course. Limited use; but you do get to see items out of linear draft form in index card format.

That is exactly what I was referring to - there is no way in the current set up for one document to appear in more than one place in the binder.


It seems that I’m the only one needing “Views” in Scrivener (see original post). Since Scrivener is my main writing tool, I searched for another app that might have just that function. Fortunately, I found that Mori allows you to replicate the same document in as many places as you want, and when you change one instance, all the other instances are also changed.

Here is an image:

Yes, Mori has always been one of the few Mac outliners out there that correctly does clones. By correctly, I mean that there is no difference between the original document and the clone. If you delete either one, the last remaining clone becomes the original. This is opposed to the aliasing mechanism, such as how the Finder works, where deleting the original leaves a bunch of useless aliases around.

DEVONthink has a nice set of features wrapped around the true clone concept as well. But again, I think I’m on Keith’s side with this one. With a program like Scrivener, I’m not sure if many would have a need for clones. In a true outliner, it makes all kinds of sense because it bridges the hierarchal fallacy where no one object can only be summed up by one ancestral lineage. Since the Draft is not really a sorting or filing system, but rather an outline of a finished production, it does not share this weakness.

Where it does make sense to me is in a different direction where a “view” would be something more like a saved searched. A think you double click on to open up, and can shuffle references to original documents around in a way which has no association with the Binder. It is merely a place to dump potentially disparate documents and see how they fit together. Then you don’t have the whole “two places at once in the Binder” problem, since a view would just be an array of document references and manual sort ordering, displayed like a Corkboard.

This is exactly the functionality I was looking for. I really don’t need the same document in two places; but it would be nice if I could create different views for the Index Cards–which give a good sense of what a document is about–allowing me to double check the consistency of my plot-lines while keeping my draft untouched. Mori is a solution, but it requires a lot of up-keeping, because every time I make a change in a document’s index card, I need to copy and paste the new version into Mori. On the other hand, a corkboard view would be much easier for my visual mind than the outline offered by Mori.