Total Newb Asking for Advice

Hi there,

I have just purchased Scrivener and finished the tutorial. Looking for advice on the best way to proceed with my project.

I have over 700 daily inspirational messages in one large word document. I wish to divide up these messages into two larger files to self publish books (one of messages from 2012, the other of messages from 2013). I am also wanting to divide up the messages into different topics, to offer compilations of messages pertaining to specific topics such as love, healing, etc. I’m hoping someone who knows the software really well can tell me the most efficient way to use the tools Scrivener offers to make this task easier and manageable. Thanks!

Sounds like you might do best with a relational database, like say FileMaker.

Oh, wow, I never would have thought of a data base. I’ll have to check into that. Thank you!

I just checked out the database you suggested…that feels pretty daunting to me right now. I think I’ll just stay within Scrivener and concentrate on learning one new software rather than two. I really appreciate your suggestion, tho! Any further wisdom that is Scrivener specific?

I’d use Import & Split on the Word file to break each message into a separate document in Scrivener. You can then arrange these in the binder however makes sense to you, e.g. by month within each year (I’m not sure if or how the book is going to be broken down beyond the year, so no particular suggestions for that). Since it seems likely that some messages will work for multiple topics, I’d use keywords to assign the different relevant topics to each item, then use saved search collections to gather all the messages of a particular topic. Search collections can be switched to standard collections and rearranged if you want, and they can be used in compile to export just the topical documents.

If you’re only going to allow a message to be in a single category, instead of keywords you could use the label, which has higher visibility throughout the project, but you might rather save this for something else more important for you to see at a glance in the binder–I know a lot of people use the label colors for tracking a document’s progress, and that could be more helpful to you here if you’re going to be doing any revisions or new writing.

Omg, thank you, that is SO helpful! I was just sitting here wondering if it would be worth it to take each message and make it it’s own document and label them accordingly. Looks like like I was thinking along the right line. I think I will take your advice and use keywords, but before I start I’ll make sure I really understand the differences between labels and keywords just to be sure. I’m so grateful for this forum because I didn’t want to pour hours and hours into this project only to find out that there was some amazing feature I didn’t think to use that would have made my life so much easier!

If for some reason the File->Import->Import and Split won’t work for you (there’s no recurring string of letters or other characters that separates each message), note that you can just go through the larger imported document and use the Document->Split menu (better yet, look at the keyboard shortcut there and use that).

The differences between keywords & label;
A document (one of each inspirational message) can only have one label.
A label can be color coded, and that color can be seen in the binder, on the corkboard, or in the outliner mode.

A document can have any number of keywords that you like (good for messages about love that also apply to self-care, for instance).
Keywords can also be color coded, but their colors can only be seen in the inspector pane for one document at a time, or on the cork board for multiple documents.
The keywords themselves (not the colors) can be seen in their own column in the outline view; You can also add or remove keywords in that view, which can be convenient if you know which categories the documents should belong to from just the title or synopsis.

You can create a saved search using the search tool in the Tool Bar at the top of the Scrivener window that is restricted to either Label or Keyword, instead of in the main text itself, by the way, so either choice will work for that aspect of the advice above.

You can also use blank lines as the separator when using Import & Split, so if there are always two empty lines between messages (but only a single empty line within a message), you’d still be able to automate the split. As Robert says though, even if this doesn’t work for the way the document is set up, it’s not difficult to use Cmd-K or Opt-Cmd-K (split with selection as title) to do this yourself.

The colour displays as an underline to the keyword text, but this may be more or less visible depending on the keyword colour and the outliner background colour you’re using. Since the word itself is shown, the colour here is secondary, compared to the index cards which only show the colour unless you hover the cursor over the colour chip to display the keyword text as an infotip. (Is “infotip” a Windows term? Hm.)

I think I am on my way…thank you so much for your very helpful advice. One more question if I may…I wish to have a tiny fleur de lis as a decoration centred above and below each daily message. I have a fleur de lis font that will do the trick…I also have a small fleur de lis image. Is one better than the other in terms of ease and good result when I compile everything and put into a .mobi format for kindle?

Use the image file. eReaders have only a few fonts available and they’re not consistent across all devices. Your fleur de lis would probably come out as an empty block character or something else even more peculiar.

There are various ways you could incorporate the image, but I’d start out just using it as a custom separator. So for example, let’s say you have each daily message as a single document in the binder. Import the image to the Research folder and call it “fleur-de-lis.” Then in File > Compile, go to the Separators section and set the Text/Text separator to “Custom”. In the text field, use the image placeholder tag <$img:fleur-de-lis>. When you compile, the centred fleur de lis image will separate each message.

Thank you, again, for such a clear and concise answer! That is exactly what I needed to know. You are a Godsend!

I am finally ready to sit down and do this thing…and I am not sure which format to use. Most of the formats have chapters, and since this is a compilation of messages, there are not chapter at all. Any suggestions?

I’d just start with the “Original” and then build up from there rather than trying to start with something that has a lot you’ll want to remove, unless you have reason to think that one of the existing presets is nearly perfect and just needs a minor tweak or two. “Original” will compile more or less exactly as you see your work in the editor: just the editor text, using the editor formatting, with each document separated by a blank line. From there you can start shaping it to add page breaks where you want them, include document titles if you want them, and play with other formatting.

Without knowing what you’re ultimately trying to achieve, I don’t have any more specific suggestions. If you’ve taken a look at some of the other presets, you’ll have an idea of the sort of things Scrivener can do–quite a lot, really–so it’s a matter of figuring out what you want to achieve, what the structure of your book is, and then adjusting the settings to get that. If you don’t have “Chapters”, do you have some other sort of section head that should appear before certain documents? Do you have groups of messages that should be separated by page breaks or do they all just get separated by the fleur-de-lis? Do you need a page header? And so on.

There are a couple videos on compiling here that may help you get started, in addition to the chapter in the user manual. If you’ve got specific questions too when you start digging into this, feel free to post 'em!

That’s what I was feeling might be the best approach, but I didn’t want to start only to regret it later if it wasn’t a good choice. Thank you, again, for so freely sharing your advice and knowledge!

So I’m still chugging along with this project. :slight_smile: Perseverance for the win, right?! lol This is where I am stuck…

I used the original template as per the previous advice. I have separated each daily message and assigned the appropriate tags to each one (as there are over 300 this was a big job!). I have completed the “meat” of the project but now I need to add my front and back matter. Because I didn’t use the novel template, I don’t have the front matter templates to use and am not sure how to format them so they don’t come out all wonky.

Also, I am unsure of how to proceed with my table of contents. I don’t want to have a table of contents that would be over 300 entries long! Should I scrap the table of contents completely or should I have the front matter, the messages lumped all together, and the back matter listed?

Also, does any one know the approximate size I should use for decorative images that would act as dividers? I’m looking to have a little image before and/or after each message. Is there any way to see how they would appear before compiling?

Again, thank you SO much for so willingly (and patiently) sharing your knowledge! It is very appreciated.

Actually, to be more accurate, I have not labelled, but assigned the appropriate keywords to each message. :slight_smile:

Typically you’ll want to select “Compile as-is” for the title page, copyright page, etc. and format it directly in the editor, since these usually have unique formatting and don’t need anything but their document text compiled (no titles, etc.). If you want to use the Novel template’s front matter documents as a basis, you could create a new Novel project and then just drag the front matter folder from there to the binder of your current project to copy it.

This sounds like a job for the ResearchMobile! :slight_smile: I’d take a look at similar books in the genre and see how they handle the TOC, or whether there is one at all. If you’ve grouped the messages by subject or theme, perhaps just list each of those groupings in the contents? In any case, if you decide to create a table of contents, you can control which items appear by selecting them in the binder or outliner and choosing Edit > Copy Special > Copy Documents as ToC.

When compiled, the <$p> tag will be replaced with the page number that title starts on. The document titles in the list will also be automatically updated during compile to include the prefix, suffix, etc. matching what you’ve set for the documents in the Formatting pane. So for instance if you’ve grouped your messages into folders per theme and then have those folders compile with a prefix “Section 1”, “Section 2”, and so on, that would be automatically added to the folder name in the contents list as well.

This depends a lot on what format you’re compiling for and what your final page size is going to be. I imagine you could get away with a larger image in a big print book than you’d want in an ebook. I’d just test some different images in a small compile sample so you can see just what it will look like on different ebook devices, if you’re going that route, or print to PDF to preview it for a physical book.

Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been searching everywhere on my own for answers to these questions for over a week! I don’t know why I didn’t think of just asking here sooner. Fabulous advice yet again that is clear and easy to understand. So, so grateful! :smiley: