I have a novel that wasn’t quite right when an agent took an interest, and Scrivener has gotten me charged up about revamping it. Here’s some things that have helped me:
I use the outline function as a (surprise!) outliner. By editing the different columns, I keep track of my pacing. Is that chapter too long, and why? Is that chapter too short, and what can be added? I put the creation and edited dates in the binder off to the right so I have to slide the scroller to see it. But when I do, I see if something has been neglected for a while and might be out of synch.
Use the colored tabs and labels to keep track of stuff you have trouble keeping track of. If you get into one character and neglect others, use the colors to indicate who is the focus of certain parts. (Gee, I didn’t realize I’d been charging away at Whosie’s story, I’d better move some What’s-their-name into the flow or readers will forget about him.) Do you lose track of what sections have been gone over many times and others are still too drafty? For instance, I like to use colors of increasing intensity, so that pale pastels indicate stuff I’m throwing against the wall, and deep colors for things I’m happy with. Labels can be plot oriented if that’s your toe-stubber (Suspense for needs more suspense, Character for needs more character development, and so forth.) Labels can remind you of style indicators (Action, Reveal, Backstory) that lets you get into those parts you are in the mood for and also see how the story is unfolding.
Speaking of in the mood for, I looooooove the different highlighting. We all have times when we want to polish a perfect paragraph, and other times when we want to charge into some heavy plot fixing. Using the highlighters to mark spots that clump into your various moods will maximize your time with Scrivener.
Don’t fall into the trap of using these tools to organize what you already have organized in your head. They aren’t to tell you what you already know! Use them to keep track of whatever your weaknesses are. It’s not going to be graded on how tidily you have it arranged with the labels and types and highlights. These are tools you can and should customize.
I’m not afraid to fragment. If you aren’t daunted by a lot of fiddly bits, get in the habit of breaking down your work into scenario chunks which can be easily moved around in first draft as you figure out what needs to be known when. By creating bunches of subchapters and moving them in the binder, I’ve found I can get a flow of the story going quickly, and then concentrate on making them hook together properly. You can see the whole thing with Edit Scrivenings… use it! You can click on any level and then see all the sublevels running together like a real chapter, but you can move something to another chapter right in the binder, instead of cutting and pasting, or move it out entirely into Research so it’s out of your way. Move your scenes around, like in a movie, and click on Edit Scrivenings again to see the new flow.
Use document notes for all sorts of brainstorming. As each idea is either used, moved to a better document for it, or discarded, you get a sense of how things are flowing and don’t lose an idea. You can also jot down an idea even if you are in a chapter that doesn’t use that particular idea, just so you don’t get off track. You’ll run across it sooner or later, or use Search to track it down.
It’s all about the Flow!