Using Metadata, Keywords etc for Tracking

I’ve been sleuthing comments but haven’t found exactly what I’m looking for. ANY and ALL ideas, or info on how you use Scrivener are more than welcome. Really, anything! In brainstorming mode.

Like many others I am trying to figure out the best way to track things; here are some of my ideas, plus questions:

–Plot progression–Outliner, with metadata fields like: “Leads to”, “Discoveries Made”,
–Subplots/Threads–using keywords for the 2-3 characters involved (keyword = character name), save search in collection. OR, Outliner with metadata fields.
–Character Arcs (how the characters change over time)–Keyword/Saved Search? OR Outliner w/metadata?
–Relationship Arcs (changes in relationships)??
–Idea Planting, and Discoveries (how hearing/seeing an “A” leads to a “B”, possibly some chapters later). I’m thinking metadata?

I think Outliner/metadata would be best to give me the bird’s eye view that I need, but I’m not quite sure how to accomplish this. One master document/view would contain be very useful to see how it all comes together. BUT, it would also contain too much information. If I use Outliner only, a master document is what I would get, yes?

I think I would like several different documents/outliners with metadata. One with Major Story Line; one for character arcs, one for relationships etc. But I don’t know how to accomplish this. AmberV indicates something like this in her answer from Wed Apr 09, 2014 5:31 pm, here: … 38#p173538

But I don’t know how to accomplish what she is talking about. If I use Outliner View, that simply shows me all documents below the document I am currently in when I click the Outliner View button, right?

I also want to track certain themes, and story elements. This is where I have real trouble. For example, in the beginning, a certain story element signifies self-possession, but later on will come to demonstrate loss of control. This will be true–in different ways–for more than one character. I can’t use keyword only, because that will not show me how this story element changes over time.

Another, similar, thing is mood/zeitgeist. It slowly, and significantly, changes over the story but I do not have a good overview of how I am accomplishing this. I am sort of, but I need a better way to track it than a simple keyword–which will basically give me lots of documents where mood/zeitgeist is briefly demonstrated, so a lot of digging through text would be required.

Scrivener, I just can’t quit you. I know you are capable of this, I just can’t get there from here.

Thank you.

I’d like to view only the documents where a particular subplot appears, in Outliner.

Possible solution:

Let’s say my subplot involves Donnie and Marie.
I create keyword Donny&Marie.
Apply keyword to relevant documents.
Do search for keyword: Donnie&Marie.
Save Search in Collections.

Problem: I can’t seem to view these scenes–and these scenes only–in Outliner mode, unless I select them all (Ctrl+All) each time I wish to view this subplot. The Select All is maybe a little cumbersome but seems to work. Now I can view Donnie and Marie subplot in Outliner Mode/Spreadsheet View, and insert comments into metadata fields.

Has anyone used this method?

All the time. CTRL-A in the search results collection is not that hard, I find, and you can also use the mouse to select docs in the search results.

But you might want to kick up your usage of keywords a notch by looking at this post:

Read it first, then come back here. Even if you are not writing a series, the method is very useful once you get the idea and apply it to even a wider range of tracking use cases:

This might also be a solution for your mood/zeitgeist problem (if I get it right): simply define a custom hierarchy of moods and easily identify scenes where moods are assigned at all (search for “mood:”), then “mood: type1”, “mood: type2”, “mood: type2: subtype2.1”, etc.

For your plotlines, by applying this method, you can differentiate between scenes belonging to the Donny&Marie plotline and scenes where the characters Donnie and/or Marie actually show up (or are mentioned) which need not be identical scenes: “Plotline: Donnie&Marie” and “character: Donnie”, “character: Marie” (I try to abbreviate the keyword category though: “pl: Donnie&Marie”, c: Donnie, …, just make sure to keep your category names unique).

Another example: character arcs. Being a hardcore plotter, there should definitely be a verbose description of each character’s arc along with a character sheet (I have an Outlining folder for all of these documents dealing with character, theme, premise, … All the stuff is based on templates adopted from the Snowflake Method, John Truby’s and K.M. Weiland’s books, etc.), but to be able to track the arc across the scenes simply define keywords like this: “arc: Peter: sad”, “arc: Peter: epiphany”, “arc: Peter: happy”, or of whatever signposts the arc for Peter comprises. By searching for “arc: Peter:” you get all scenes that have to do with Peter’s arc.

And more: Foreshadowing specific elements, narrative devices like flashback and flashforwards, symbols, plotpoints, the possibilities for properly structured keywords are nearly endless.

However for everything which you want to be able to see as columns in the Outliner, use meta data. Use and customise the Label field for the thing you want to be the most visible one (because of all the colouring options you get). For me it is POV, so I renamed Label to POV and have values in the list like “Peter1PP”, “Peter3PO”, “Mary3PP”, “Omniscient” (not all in one novel, of course :wink:).

Because I use Aeon Timeline (Version2, Beta currently) I have two meta data fields “Start” and “End” which contain the date/times for the linked events. I also have one field “SceneID” where every scene gets a number/key which never changes (e.g. “A57”) thereafter even if I rename the scene and which helps me to connect my outlining in Scrivener to my actual writing in another programme (I sync it to Aeon too).

And I also use a single field SceneType in which I input “scene” and “sequel” (1 and 2 for brevity, actually), because I like to see it in the Outliner. Although by its very nature this is a piece of information which may only assume a fixed list of different values and therefore actually would better be represented as a keyword category with two entries, the visibility in the Outliner made me go for this compromise.

But: I really have to remind myself sometimes, that over-engineering my writing process is a kind of procrastination as well. So, don’t forget to write. Hope though you find some useful tips in here. :bulb:

P.S. One more useful link:

1 Like

Hello there,
Pigfenders original hints are still quite useful; … -keywords/

Thank you both. These exactly the kind of ideas I’m on the lookout for. I got a little “my preciousssss” excited reading about the keywords. Great pointers there on how to use them in very specific ways.

I hear you on the time warp thing. On the flip-side, my novel is already written, mmmmmore or less… But it needs editing and some restructuring (read: rewrite), and things of that nature. There’s a bit of fumbling going on here; I’m finding it difficult to gain the kind of oversight I need to strike the right balance. To make sure I follow through with all the elements and threads throughout, at a good pace. As it stands, I’m going on gut feeling but need something more concrete, so that I have solid reasons behind the decisions I make during this final (please, please, pretty please) rewrite. You know when you hear an interview with an author and they sound so sure of the ways they presented things? Yeah, I’m not there yet.

Thanks again.
And feel free to come back here if you think of something more!