Strategies for Culling/Gathering Materials Into Scrivener

I’m about to get serious about a writing project (non-fiction book). The book’s about a hard-to-explain subject, and it’s my job to explain it real clearly. I want to at least start out with Scrivener, but I’m new to the program.

I’ve got about 12,000 words stored away that are my prior attempts to explain it (via email to friends, notes to myself, etc). They’re all rough and mostly fragmentary…i.e. dealing with just one single aspects of the subject, though I’ve tried to explain certain specific aspects multiple times. None of that stuff’s great…so my impulse is to trash it and start fresh, but there are nuggets that I don’t want to lose.

So I think need to read through that stuff (an unpleasant task, because it’s mostly failed attempts), and somehow highlight the nuggets and make them easily available to me. Should I do this in Scrivener? Or print it all out and circle the nuggets, and just input them into the program? Also, how do I keep those nuggets handy to insert when the time comes? Obviously, I need to “keep my eye on them” while I ramp up the writing, to ensure that the material that comes before builds properly. Any tips on using Scrivener in that way?


  1. Put your e-mails and other notes into one or several RTF files. You may do that with TextEdit or any other word processor.

  2. Start a Scrivener project and give it an appropriate name.

  3. Drag the RFT files into Scrivener’s Research folder. Create appropriate labels for these items.

  4. Go through the items and highlight the nuggets.

  5. You may also copy the nuggets by copy/paste into a Nuggets folder.

  6. Or you may move the nuggets by select, drag, and drop into a Nuggets folder.

This ability to move/copy text around into different parts of the Binder is the key strength of Scrivener.

If you want to split up the RTF files: place the cursor at a split-point, press Cmd-K, and give the new item a label.

You can add other elements to the Research folder, like web URLs.

When ready to write, split the screen so you can read the Research folder in one window and write draft in the other.

It’s also a good idea to watch the Tutorial and read the FAQ, often, until you get the hang of things.

Welcome, and good luck.

:open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth:
y` can be so sweet when you want to be.

Welcome aboard Scrivener JIm :wink:


You’re not the ONLY one with a split personality! :mrgreen:

Without prejudice,


Thanks Druid (and others). I wasn’t hoping to receive such generous detail, though it’s much appreciated!

So rather than build up/out those nuggets, better to keep them in the binder as “research”, and write in reference to them, correct?

I would think so, but that is not so much related to Scrivener, as to your own preferred workflow.

If the nuggets are big enough, you may want to put them directly in your draft and build off them. If you keep them in separate files, you can drag them around in the binder as you see fit until they have their place in the overall work.

If they are shorter, sentences and small paragraphs, you are probably better off starting afresh and just pulling them up in a split pane when you hit a point in your writing where you think one would fit in.


Ok, thanks. That’s how I would have proceeded if I were writing in a conventional word processor, but the pageless model of Scrivener spooked/intrigued me, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t working against its set-up (which I still don’t totally grok, but I’ll keep at it).

Thanks again!

You can do both if you like, using the Duplicate function.

If it were me, I’d dump the whole pile into Research, then copy the excerpts that are worth saving into files in the Draft section. Possibly using the Corkboard and/or Outliner to create placeholders for chunks that I need but don’t currently have.

I find Scrivener especially useful for the kind of project you’re describing. With complex subjects, often the most difficult part of the project (for me) is figuring out the logical structure for my explanation. Scrivener makes it easy to play with different approaches until I find one that works.



Thanks, Kewms, yeah, the complexity of the project is what led me here. thanks for the tips…