Tracking changes

I’m writing a novel and have been trying out Scrivener for a week and love it! I want it to be my main writing application. However before I buy I need to know if it can handle my work flow.

I split up my novel in about 60 chunks in Scrivener and now I need my good friend and writer to read it and let me know what he thinks.

I compile the draft to Word and mail it to him. He mails me back a Word document filled with suggestions. He uses Words track changes tool. I accept/ignore his changes in Word and when I’m finished i save the Word document.

Now … how do I get my novel back into Scrivener with out needing to individually copy 60 chunks from Word and pasting them in where I split the document in Scrivener?

Any ideas?

You can’t. Any chance you could get your friend to use Scrivener, even the free trial?

Alternatively, what about printing out the manuscript and giving it to your friend with a red pen? This is what I ended up doing for a round of edits before having to switch to Word to finish up.

Personally, once I begin exchanging files and using Track Changes,
I stop using Scrivener.

But you could do this:
Instead of Track Changes, ask the friend to enter all comments/revisions
In bold-face, in the text itself.

When you receive that Word file, save it in the RTF format
Then import into Scrivener.
You should see all the friend’s comments and revisions in bold.
(If bold is a problem, try a color like red/blue, etc.

BTW, I would keep all the Draft versions intact
By naming them Draft 1, Draft 2, etc.

I have a friend who (on Windows) checks my work, and I check hers, and we work in RTF, with handy [square brackets] and highlighted/colored text. The square brackets (which I also use for my own notes to self, or to mark words/phrases/sentences I’m unsure about) are handy, because they aren’t legitimately part of fiction writing and are easy to find with a search. And strawberry-highlighted grape text is easy to pick out of your work as a note.

Once you have all the changes accepted and are ready to import your document into Scrivener, the easiest way is to import it as one file, THEN run a “find” search within the document for whatever you’re using to break the scenes, and when you find one of those breaks, split the document at the selection. (I think it’s command-K, but I’m not on my Mac to check at the moment.)

EDIT: I also keep the various versions of my work. I have a folder, entitled “Scraps”, where I keep all previous versions and scrapped scenes. (The right-click, “Append selection to” function works great.)

If I’m understanding you correctly, and you don’t necessarily want to keep your friend’s comments/changes marked as such after you’ve gone through and accepted them, there is another, far more elegant way to do “round trips” between Scrivener projects and compiled drafts: use MultiMarkdown (MMD). I don’t know how much you know about MMD, but it’s a slightly geeky but really quite unobtrusive way to mark up documents in plain text, in a way that retains their structure.

In this scenario, you’d avoid using rich text formatting, annotations, footnotes or pictures in your draft, and instead use MultiMarkdown formatting, such as this or this instead of actual italics. In most basic prose usage, that’s really all you need to know. You’d also have to accept that the title of each “scrivening” as it appears in your Binder will survive as a textual heading in your compiled draft.

For example, imagine you have a scrivening called “Chapter 1”, which contains the sentence “This is chapter 1”. Nested inside this scrivening in the Binder, you have another scrivening called “Spooky scene”, containing the sentence “Woooooooohooo”. Compile this draft using the MultiMarkDown option, with all the options for “Titles” (“Files”, “File Groups” and “Folders”) checked, and you’d get a text file that looked like this:

You could then paste all of this into a Word file and let your friend have at it. They’ll have to make sure to respect the formatting that MultiMarkdown involves, and to not use italics, etc, in their changes, because they’ll be ignored when you reimport into Scrivener. If they understood the structural syntax of the headings (i.e. that “#” is a level 1 heading, and that “##” headings are an level beneath that), they might be able to suggest rejigs to the structure by shifting bits around and changing the heading levels to suit.

Once you’ve received this Word document and integrated whatever changes you accept, save the document as a text file. Then “Import MultiMarkdown file” into a new Scrivener project (or in a separate folder in your existing project), and all those hashed headings will break back down into your original Scrivener structure. Besides the changes you accepted in Word, everything in this new folder/project will basically be the same as you had it. (Since Scrivener’s highlighting system doesn’t survive the Compile Draft process, any internal highlighting will also be lost, but that’s par of the course for passing documents to outside parties anyway.)

If all this sounds terrifying to you, do note that the most important part of writing involves the text itself, and that MultiMarkdown is designed to be readable, and not get in the way of the text. It’s not really that much different from the way manuscripts are often submitted in double spaced Courier with underlines, rather than nicely typeset with italics.

Thanks a lot for your suggestions guys. Especially you jebni for taking the time to explain MMD. MMD does sound like the way to go. Thanks a lot. I’m gonna test MMD and see how it works for me.

Cheers! :slight_smile:

Just a note, as already mentioned, you can disable the automatic title generation by simply not including titles as a compile option, just as per regular RTF style compiling. So this can be done on a document type basis. But, additionally, you can use the “preserve format” option in Inspector to disable title generation on a per document basis. This option would otherwise have no meaning with MMD since by definition the whole project ignores formatting, so for this one case it has an alternate meaning: no titles. Using this, you can supply your custom titles in the document itself using the ‘#’ notation. This should be done only if absolutely necessary, though, as part of what makes Scrivener “magic” with MMD is its automatic title depth generation. If you use custom titles in the documents, then you’ll have to make sure the depth (number of hashes) is correctly maintained by hand.

When exporting to RTF, title depth doesn’t mean much beyond differing font sizes. But in HTML output, these will be valid H1 H2 etc markers. Very useful if you are have an HTML workflow.

If you’re going to test MMD for round trips, I recommend that you select your Draft folder in the Binder, do an Edit Scrivenings (batch edit all the chunks at once), and then select Text > Convert > Bold and Italics to MultiMarkdown Syntax.This will obviously convert your italic text to this and your bold text to this. Otherwise any italics or bold won’t survive the compilation of your draft in MMD mode. If you have bullet lists in Scrivener, unfortunately these won’t convert either – they have to be converted to

  • asterisked points

  • like this

So, just a reminder that going down the MMD route for round trips means foregoing some of the niceties of Scrivener, like rich text, footnotes, graphics, etc. Scrivener can export as MultiMarkdown and also import MultiMarkdown into hierarchical chunks, which allows this round trip possibility, but given the various things you have to give up, it’s clear that the software wasn’t really designed with doing MMD round trips in mind. :slight_smile:

AmberV: since we’re talking specifically about compiling via MMD for eventual reimporting to Scrivener with our Binder hierarchy intact, don’t we need to include titles?

Good point! Guilty as charged for busting in half-way through a thread discussion and not thoroughly reviewing the entire premise! :slight_smile:

Personally, I would treat the MSWord track changes annotations the same as red pen markups on a printout received back with suggestions. That is, review the changes, and then in my Scrivener project, I would make the changes that I want to keep, the way I want to keep them, by typing the changes in myself. After doing a snapshot of all my scriv documents in the project so the previous version is safely stored.

That way my scriv file is still the master file and there is no messing around with import methods and compatibility and worrying about whether or not I made any changes between sending out the version for comments and receiving the comments back.

The MMD way sounds interesting. But, while exchanging RTF files between Mac and PC is easy, I know that trying the same with TXT files has the additional problem of different line break/ending enconding.

How do you manage this matter? In the past, I’ve used TextWrangler to do the conversion. JDarkRoom can natively save in Mac or Unix format. But in general it is an additional step, that I would like to avoid.


EDIT: I discovered that WriteMonkey, too, can save in Unix (therefore OS X) format. It works great.