trying to understand how keywords might work?

At the moment I am trying to fathom keywords.

I continue to try to conceptualize organization. Could you explain how you use keywords? I am using Scrivener and am sort of randomly saving snippets, ideas, dots, lines and character sketches etc.; I know that there are many layers of organization I would benefit from, but don’t yet comprehend. Key words, I think, can be used in many different programs.

Today I realized if I searched for Drea, one of my characters, everything that I’ve written about her will appear. But if somehow I selected a keyword connecting her to the language I am creating or whatever that would be helpful. It seems that a myriad of ways to search could become fecund and fun.

I realize, for me, organization and weaving a web that will help reveal secrets and connections in my novel will be a step at a time, and I am definitely ready for the next step.

I’m currently using keywords for characters–whenever a character appears or is referenced in a chapter, I put the (current) name or description. That way, when I need to develop more about an aforementioned character, I can check what I’ve already written about him without contradicting myself.

(It’s an urban fantasy, so I’m also using the keywords to group the characters with their kinds/allegiances).


thank you for your response.

I am appreciative and still flummoxed.
Perhaps it is like a language I may never entirely understand but might under/inner stand a bit more.

many blessings

Aisling :imp: :unamused: :stuck_out_tongue: :frowning: :smiley: :confused: thank you

You can also use keyword for things like theme, symbolism etc. I use it to keep track of the ticking time bomb in one of my novels.



Could you explain a bit about exactly how you use keywords for the ticking time bomb or how one might use keywords for theme? I don’t know why learning to use keywords is being mysterious for me, but it is. I have a strong sense when I grasp how to work with them it will be very helpful.

Thanks so much


Is there something you want to be able to find easily throughout the story? In my case, it’s where different characters are referenced. Using keywords lets me separate what sections mention which characters even when a character isn’t mentioned by name.

Try think of keywords like Google (or your search engine of choice). You type in certain descriptors that let you find what you’re looking for. You use keywords with different sections so you can later find what you’re looking for even if it isn’t mentioned verbatim how you’d search for it in the text itself.

That help?

Aislng: I create a project called Fake Suspense Novel. I have six fake chapters. Chapter one sets the bomb and I create a keyword called set bomb. I add “set bomb” to only chapter one’s keyword list in the inspector. There is only one bomb. I then can do a search on that keyword in the keyword HUD by clicking on the keyword and then the search button on the lower right. The binder become the search list and shows only chapter one. OK. I did set my bomb and I can go to it quickly.

I write my next five chapters and defuse the bomb in chapter six. As I write, I add my keywords to the inspector. If I advance the clock on the time bomb I add the keyword “tick.” If I have used a red herring, I might add “fish.” I might have a theme of Man v. Machine so I might add a keyword of “MVM.” I am now ready to edit my opus.

I must make sure I advance the clock on the time bomb in each chapter. I do a search using the keyword HUD for “tick.” I see that word shows up in chapters 2,4 and 5. Oops! I forgot to advance the clock on the time bomb in chapter three. I go back and fix that.

I want to be sure that I don’t have too many red herrings. I search “fish” and find only two. That’s the right number.

I want to be sure that my theme of Man v. Machine runs through the novel but that I don’t beat my readers to death with it. I do a search and find I have “MVM” in all six chapters. I have to evaluate whether this is too much and where I should cut.

This also works really well (as others have described elsewhere) at keeping track of subplots, foreshadowing and characters.

I hope this helps. This is actually a difficult thing to describe.


Hi Carradee and Apollo 16


Yes, what you wrote helps, thank you. I will continue learning to differentiate how to divide the story into quirky and helpful ways to search; I also haven’t quite grasped the rhythm with which to naturally save and store keywords while I am writing.

I imagine there is a way to search for fire, water, air and earth as elemental divisions in a story. I imagine that these elemental divisions can have sections like fire of fire, fire of water, fire of air and fire of earth.
I imagine that there is a mystery to how these passages relate to each other and that somehow keywords, or words that are or contain keys, can help unlock or open wonderful mysteries that are like the answer to a Riddle Poem that might not have been written yet- but when it is conjured will fortuitously reveal and open fecund doors.

Does this help clarify what I almost understand that I am searching for? (wry grin)

I sense this is true, I hope this is true, I wonder…

Apollo 16

Thanks so much for taking the time to explain what you are doing. You did a great job of explaining and I am going to explore my version of what you did. What you posted is very helpful.


Aisling aka Laurel