Struggling with Compiling a novel

I’ve just upgraded to Scrivener 3. With version 2, I basically compiled everything As-Is to a Word Document and then usually had to tweak a few things in the document. I thought now is the time to learn how to do it properly.

I’ve watched the videos, I’ve read many posts, but I cannot figure out how to do what I need compile to do. I would be so grateful if someone could walk me through it.

The novel is divided into parts, chapters and small scenes, memories.

Chapters themselves are not divided into scenes in the binder, however, but some chapters have these ‘small’ scenes that I want, when compiling, to separate out from the rest of the chapter’s text by a # at the beginning and also at the end ( to denote two blank lines), unless they fall at the end of a chapter, in which case they should have a # at the beginning and a page break at the end.

So essentially I have five things to compile in the binder:

  1. Parts (a folder), the title of the part to be the name I assign the folder. The Title of the part is to be on its own page, page break before and after.

  2. The chapters, which I do not want to have numbers or titles. I name them in the binder for my own use.

  3. Chapters begin with three blank lines and end with a page break. Each chapter is a single document in the binder unless it has a ‘small scene’.

  4. Small scenes, no title, just to be separated out as above, with a # top and bottom -

    • unless they fall at the end of a chapter, in which case they end with a page break

I’ve created a dummy project for ease of explaining:
[attachment=0]Screenshot 2021-02-07 at 18.52.02.png[/attachment]

Any help much appreciated.

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend taking a look at our upgrade guide for Scrivener 2 users. It introduces the new Compile command and walks through the process of converting a Scrivener 2 project. You can find it here: … date-guide


Thanks Katherine, I’m not sure it’s going to help me as I never got my head around Compile in Scrivener 2 in the first place - I just compiled ‘as is’ - and didn’t use many other features other than loving the fact I could get a visual on my chapters and move them around / have a place to dump research etc in one good visual interface. - I just felt now was the time to learn - in particular how to compile what I need done…

How I sympathise! I’m struggling with compile also. I’m reading and re-reading the Manuel, hoping some understanding will eventually seep through into my head. I have used compile with PDF and default ie the simplest way possible, in order to see what my book looks like when compiled. Now I want to be able to read through it he compiled version and correct mistakes, but it is in Preview and I cannot alter anything. I’ll go on plodding through the manual and hopefully discover how to do this. . But if anybody can advise me, and save me a lot of time, I would be very grateful!

The first step you need to do, is to make sure you have one Section Type for each of your parts as mentioned. Under Project->Project Settings, make sure you have one Section Type for each of …

small scenes

There’s a tab within that window that lets you tell Scrivener what indentation level belongs (for the most part) to which section type, so you don’t have to assign them all manually. With the binder visible and showing a sample of your typical binder hierarchy, make sure that parts and chapters are assigned to the appropriate files, as I assume they’re the most common. It’s okay if it automatically assigns “chapter” section type to all of the files in your parts folders (“A Plan” “And Then” are your part folders, right?).

Okay, so now you can exit out of there. Change your editor to outline view, and click on Manuscript in the binder.
In the outline view, add the “Section” column, so you can see all of the assigned section types in one place.

Now, using the outline view, manually change the section types as needed to make them correct. Leave the automatic assignments alone if they’re already correct.

At this point, you should have been able to tell Scrivener what each document is (small scene, memory, chapter, or part). When you go to compile, you’ll then be able to choose a section FORMAT that best represents how you want each of those TYPES to look. I assume, for instance, that the Parts folders need to show “PART X” , where X is a number, and maybe the title, but they don’t have their own text. You’d choose a document format to assign to the “part” section type that reflects your preference, and then move on to how you want your chapters to look, and so-forth.

If nothing quite suites you, then you’ll need to customize the compile formats, which is much more similar to the old versions of Scrivener’s compile settings, but hopefully you have a good option that’s built-in to Scrivener’s compile settings.

Thank you. Just the advice I was hoping for. I shall now try to follow it. I’ll report back on progress.

I think (fingers crossed) I’ve cracked it. Problem for me has been vocabulary and orientation. Compile expects its users to be able think like a programmer. Up to now, I expected to use the skills I have acquired in word processing. But that is not how compile works. I have now realised I have to approach it as a completely new program. I have to learn the rules and the strange words. Scrivener Virgin’s blogs, which I came across by chance, have been a great help. She explains what words mean and takes you slowly through the process stage by stage.