Scrivener's Parts & Structure

I’m having a hard time visualizing how different the binder, editor, and inspector interact with views of each part and then what can and can’t go into texts and folders and how their contents will how up in different views.

I’d love to see it all sketched out, which would allow me to get the relationships.

I also don’t get why I can’t create a folder and move texts into it. This sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. For me this is a central, seemingly inexplicable puzzle. (I know it’s not inexplicable.)

Finally, the research folder: I’ve created a test project (one with real data but with the primary purpose of learning Scrivener) that no longer has a research folder; I don’t know whether I deleted it or renamed it. So … how do I create a new folder with the same properties as the research folder, i.e., it can contain non-text documents.

If this is a bit confusing, that’s because it represents my current confused understanding of Scrivener.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.



First things first, if you haven’t already you should go through the Interactive Tutorial (in the Help menu). It sounds like you might already have, so pardon me if that suggestion is redundant at this point. If not though, it walks through each part of the interface, demonstrates how they link together, and what you can do where and more importantly why.

Are you familiar at all with OneNote? You can kind of think of the Binder as being a bit like the notebook tabs along the top, or maybe even better yet the pages on the right. It’s not a precise analogy, but the Binder is where you organise stuff, and the editor is where you view that stuff when you click on them in the binder. Where it departs from OneNote is that the editor can also be a more detailed organiser too, with the corkboard and outliner modes. You click on a folder, or select five items in the binder at once, and suddenly the editor is now a step “above” in terms of strategy. It’s no longer a text editor but a tool for seeing multiple text files from a higher point of view.

The user manual (also in the help menu), has a “Quick Tour” section. This might help you out if you’ve already taken the tutorial and feel as though you are missing a bit of how this all links together. The tutorial doesn’t walk you through the process of making pieces and organising them, whereas the quick tour does. It’s also much shorter—15 or 30 minutes should be fine.

You’re probably running into what was intended to be an experiment in click and drag. These types of things can happen in betas. :slight_smile: Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, and in this case it didn’t really work. The problem is nesting things requires you to pause for long enough—until that little black dot disappears. That’s probably why sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.

I recommend downloading the NaNoWriMo version. It is newer, and it includes a more intuitive and natural drag-and-drop model.

It is probably there—unless you’ve hit a rather serious bug—as it is impossible to delete the folder for this very reason; it lends the appearance of being unable to import media into the project. In fact, that’s not quite the truth. You can make however many top level folders you want and put media into them. The only place that doesn’t accept media is the Draft… and well, the trash can, but that hardly counts. :slight_smile:

A tip on all of this that might boost your efficiency is Ctrl-Arrow keys. Select an item and use those to move the item around in the outline. Left and right for promotion and demotion; up and down work as you would expect. So if you are having a hard time getting a folder to the top level, or moving items into folders, Ctrl-Left and Right are handy.

Check your icons. One of them is bound to have that open book with the red binding appearance. You can rename anything in the binder, so that’s probably all that happened.

Thanks, AmberV. That helps a lot. It seems to be Scrivener’s nature to be understood only in bits and pieces, which I find somewhat frustrating. I want to see the overall structure and how all its parts interact … because that’s one way I find most useful in understanding a complex structure like Scrivener’s.

The ctl-arrow tip was perhaps most immediately useful. Next would be the assurance that the research folder is there, even if under a pseudonym.

Thanks again.


You’re looking for an icon that looks like this:

It cannot be moved into another folder, so it must be somewhere at the top level and visible.

It could be approached that way, but really you’re in for some serious study if you intend to master the whole program and then decide where to take it. It’s a pretty deep software tool, and a lot of the stuff in it are things you will likely never need to use. I usually recommend taking it slow. Learn the basics of outlining in the binder and typing in the editor. Get used to the concept of creating and navigating around in an authorial outline rather than working in large chunks if you wish. Then perhaps pick up Corkboard and Outliner and start playing with how you can visualise pieces of your book with those tools. If something doesn’t click for you; if it doesn’t strike you as useful, then just don’t use it. I honestly hardly ever use synopses. I’d like to use them more in theory, but I never find the time to use them and so for me I don’t heavily use that feature. No big deal. I’m not penalised for that one bit. Once you’ve done the tutorials and maybe watched a few of the videos (which right now are Mac based, so you’ll need to do a little creative interpretation), maybe go through the manual and take a chapter a day or so. If something strikes you as being useful, look it up and learn it. Maybe labels sound like something that would really benefit you. Being able to colour scenes according to topic, plot thread, POV, or whatever you have in mind sounds like it would be of huge benefit. Great, crack open the book and read up on how labels work. Forget keywords and all that other stuff, just take it in steps.

That’s what I usually recommend. Main reason for that is there are some unorthodox concepts in Scrivener at the philosophical level, and if you bombard yourself with details like keywords and references and links early on, it can make learning the basic index card + small pieces + integrated outline + scrivenings mode bit more difficult to grasp, and you really need that in order to “get” what Scrivener is all about. It’s not the little details that people like, it’s the cohesive strategy and how that can liberate your mind from the mechanical details of writing.