Techniques for filtering by character/storyline

With Scrivener’s power and flexibility I sometimes find myself uncertain on the best approach for something when there are multiple options available to me so I’m curious to see what approach the rest of you take.

The main thing I’m looking for is how best to filter all the documents in my draft by a certain character so that I can see just that character’s storyline (or it could be similarly applied to an object or similar). So I have a document, “tag” it with “Roxy”, “Trip” and “David” because all three characters are in the scene, then want to be able to quickly and easily look at my draft and see just the docs tagged with Roxy so that I can see her plotline.

Custom metadata doesn’t really seem to suit as I tried with a custom metadata of “character” but can’t only choose one value and often a scene will have mutiple characters. I can choose multiple keywords but then don’t see a way to easily filter by a single one in Outliner view and Corkboard view doesn’t seem to have any sort of filtering in it.

Should I be using collections instead?

Yes, the basic approach is to filter the documents you want by using Collections, then you can view them in any of the standard views, including Corkboard and Outline mode. In this case, you’d do a Project Search for the Keyword “Roxy”, then save it as a collection with an appropriate name.

If you’re not familiar with how to use Collections, it may be worth a few minutes looking through the relevant Tutorial section (under Going Further > Organisational Tools > Collections), as it includes some useful tips.


Great, thanks, will give this a go.

Collections or Project Search, I would say, depending on whether or not you anticipate returning to this list frequently in the future. These two things are actually quite a bit closer to one another than you might think. Try this:

  1. First, give yourself a view of the binder sidebar tabs, by using the View ▸ Show Collections menu command.

By default you’ll see two entries: Search Results and Binder. The former store the last project search you ran, even between sessions, so it can be a useful “scratch space” for stuff like this, so long as you don’t use search a lot.

  1. Let’s start by searching though, use the Project ▸ Show Project Keywords menu command (⇧⌘K), select the keyword(s) you wish to focus on, and then click the magnifying glass button in the lower right.

You should see the current tab switch to Search Results and present a list of all the items that this keyword has been assigned to.

  1. Now if you want to save that for future use, click on the magnifying glass in the search tool above the binder sidebar (click the search icon in the main toolbar if you don’t see it), and select "Save Search as Collection…` at the very bottom.

A new tab will be added to the list, and now you can freely jump to that POV narrative whenever you need to. Myself, I tend to use the keyword search capability rather than saving them, because it is about as convenient as setting up a collection anyway, and doesn’t result in any tab list clutter.

I definitely use saved searches, though, more often for manually created search though.

P.S. You can filter Corkboard and Outliner, with ⌘F, as I think you’ve noted. However with keywords that tool is of limited use. It’ll be better for narrowing down your keyword list—say you only want to see Roxy’s scenes that are still flagged as needing a rewrite.

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