Tracking subplots within synopsis cards

I’d like to be able to track a subplot by including references to it in the synopses of various index cards, then pulling just those references out to view by themselves. In other words, let’s say I have three index cards:

MONDAY
Adam finds a ball
Mother calls her sister on the phone
Jim runs around
Mother calls her aunt

WEDNESDAY
Adam calls a friend
Jim throws the ball
Mother calls Father

FRIDAY
Adam throws the ball
Jim calls Father
Adam throws the ball to Mother
The telephone rings

Now let’s say I’d like to be able to label any plot item referring to the telephone as part of a subplot (maybe somone’s listening in). Then I’d like to be able to pull out these references for review and revision, so that I could see:

Mother calls her sister on the phone
Mother calls her aunt
Adam calls a friend
Mother calls Father
Jim calls Father
The telephone rings

Can I do this in Scrivener? That is, can I tag individual lines or phrases within a synopsis, and then view them all together? If not, are there third party platforms that can? (Note that this is not the same as tagging an entire card, or a line within the text; for plot management purposes, I’d like to do this at the synopsis level.) Apologies if I’ve overlooked a simple answer or workaround: I did review the manual and forums.

Thanks very much.

I think the best choice for you, given what you have described, is to use keywords for the plot tag itself. To add a keyword to an item, open the Inspector with the blue ‘i’ button and then click the key icon at the very bottom of this slide-out panel. You’ll see an empty “Keywords” list. Just click the [b]+[/b] button to add a keyword (or you can click into this area and hit Enter to make new lines).

You will note that as you add keywords, a random colour will be assigned to them. This is key, because it can be used to identify that plot on index cards. To enable that feature, just toggle the [b]View/Corkboard Options/Show Keyword Colors[/b] menu command.

Colours can be customised in the project keyword list (just double-click on the keyword you wish to customise, or use [b]Project/Show Project Keywords[/b]).

That gives you a way to see subplot from a bird’s eye view. If you want to gather all of the scenes together that are involved with this subplot (or whatever you are tracking with keywords), just select it in the Project Keywords list and then click the “Search” button to return a list in the main window.

Dear Ioa:

Thank you for the quick reply. The keyword solution appears to be good for labeling entire index cards. However, I was looking for something to mark a single line within the index card, and to pull together all similarly marked lines from multiple index cards into one place (but not any content that is not so marked).

If I’ve interpreted this wrongly, please let me know. If Scrivener can’t do this, can you recommend any third-party add-on that might?

Thanks again.

Ah, okay if we are talking about tracking things at a level beneath what is feasible to split up into multiple pieces, then I would recommend annotations or comments. These tools are designed specifically for marking or tagging components at the text level.

Here is a thread. Note that this is in response to someone using the Windows version, so at times I refer to things that cannot be done yet but will be addressed in the future—that essentially just means the Mac can do it and you can ignore that disclaimer. Specifically, you can search for plot keywords and get an exhaustive list of them in the sidebar (this thread was focussed on QDA research methods, where textual marking and tagging is an important part of the process). There are inline annotations as well. I tend to use either one of these tools depending upon how I intend to access it down the road. There is no way to get a concise list of inline annotations, so comments make a better tool for this specific purpose.

Thanks. Between the two, comments are a closer fit for my needs. But after reviewing these posts and playing around with Scrivener features for a while, it doesn’t appear that I can do what I’m after without resorting to breaking my scenes up into many small pieces, which wouldn’t work for my purposes.

For the wish list, a couple of thoughts on functions that would help people in my situation:

  1. The ability to format text within a synopsis card (e.g., bold, italics).
  2. The ability to attach a common comment to bits of text, then view or export just the various lines of text with that comment attached to it, in one place. (So if I attached “Herman” as a comment to any line of dialogue uttered by Herman in any scene, I could use it to view all of Herman’s dialogue together.)

Thanks again.

Hi, bbarl. I run into the same need and I’ve been experimenting with both in-line annotations and comments also.

I also tried other thing that helped me keep to track of plot elements. When I need to track something I create an in-line footnote with some sort of coding. For instance: MAIN_PLOT: Susan gets a new cell phone.

When in-line, these short footnotes don’t distract me and when I’ve finished a local review of the text I move them to linked footnotes which appear only in the Inspector.

Then, when Compiling, all footnotes get printed in numerical order so I can check that the sequence is correct and that I’ve not screwed up the story moving documents around.

It’s not straightforward and requires you to compile to get the full list of footnotes and check if everything is in order, but to some extent it has been useful. I thought it might help you too.

Best regards,
r6d2.

We don’t have any intention of adding this. I wouldn’t say it is completely out of the question, but it’s just not considered to be a very important thing to change the storage architecture over. The synopsis field specifically is just meant to be a short bit of text to remind you of what the section is about.

If you need more comprehensive notes, use the Documents Notes sidebar. This is what it was designed for. Having two rich text note fields attached to a document seems like overkill to me.

We have some stuff on the drafting board for this. That doesn’t mean it will ever appear (to be transparent, this idea has been laying around since before Scrivener 1.0 even existed, so don’t get your hopes up!). There are definitely some interesting ideas though, and more recent technologies such as collections, saved searches and sidebar comments do make these ideas more feasible than they were in the past when it was just inline notes.

Also note that it is possible to export all inline annotations and comments to a text file (with optional section headers included), with `File/

Thank you very much for the tip! I had absolutely overlooked that feature.
Best regards,
r6d2.

Ha. :slight_smile:

File/Export/Comments & Annotations…