Using Scrivener with Critique groups

I have been using Scrivener with writing my novels for about a year now and I love it. However, it took me a while to find a good process for sharing parts with my critique group, so I thought I would share. (This process may work for business documents as well, but as I have not tried it for that, I don’t guarantee anything.)

Now, with critique groups, it is usually not feasible nor practical to simply share your entire .scriv folder. My particular critique group has Word (using the .docx format) as our standard, and since it does have a compare feature, I will be using that in my tip.

After you have some writing done, design your compile. You may want to save these specific compile settings for critique groups, and for the most part you can set Scrivener to compile however you want, but here are some tips I’ve found useful:
[]Compile in a very universal font. This will help the page numbers to be consistent on every computer, so if you go over the edits/comments together, you can literally be on the same page. I have found Times New Roman to be best for this.[/]
[]Make sure your compile includes page numbers, for the same reason as above.[/]
[*]Some people may think that sending in an older or more universal format (such as .rtf or .doc) would be better, but I have found that those are not universally readable on mobile devices, so I prefer .docx.[/]
]This may seem overly obvious, but I’m listing it anyway: make sure you are only compiling the parts for this current selection and not the entire manuscript every time. Otherwise critique group members can get very annoyed. :slight_smile: [/

Now that you have compiled your document, you can just send it out, but I have found that if I am sending a revised copy of something I have sent out before, most critique group members prefer the new edition to be ‘red-lined’ so that they can just see what changes you’ve made. The easiest way to do this is to make sure you have a copy of the original (pre-changes) document/compile which you had sent out earlier, then take the new document/compile (with the changes) and compare them (in Word, go to the Review pane, then click Compare (on the right), and choose the compare option, then choose the 2 documents you’ve compiled accordingly and save as a new document). You can then send the compare document to your group.

Once your critique group has reviewed your work, they often will send back a copy of the work with comments and/or changes. Opening each one and comparing it to your Scrivener version can be a pain, but you can make it easier by using Word’s compare feature again. Here’s some instructions for that.

  • We have an acceptable naming schema for documents in my group that works rather well (you can work it out with your particular group however you want, but I’m giving an example in case you need ideas). If I sent out a document entitled ‘my document chapters 3-4.docx’ to the group, then each member of the group will return her comments in a similar format, specifically ‘my document chapters 3-4 - reviewer’s name’s comments.docx’ This helps me know which document was revised as well as who sent the revisions (since not everyone has that metadata filled out in Word).[/]
    ]This is not mandatory, but I like to save all documents for a particular meeting (my original as well as all critiques for that particular meeting) in its own folder.[/]
    ]Open Word, go to the Review pane and select ‘Compare’ and then ‘Combine.’ [/]
    ]For the original document, select your original document, and then select the first review document as your compare. Make sure it is set to save as new document and that ‘label unmarked changes’ is filled with the appropriate critiquer’s name (believe me, this is handy later). I also prefer to turn off comparisons of things like formatting, which can be automatically changed when someone else opens and edits/comments on your document, and other things I know I won’t give a flip about. :slight_smile: When all the setting are as you like them, click ‘OK.’[/]
    ]Word should now have an unsaved comparison document as your working document. Save this as something easy to identify, like ‘master review document.docx’’[/]
    ]Now go into Compare and Combine again, but this time choose the master review document as your original, and the next reviewer’s document as your comparison, and make sure to choose to show changes in ORIGINAL document. Click OK and save that document again.[/]
    ]Repeat that last step until all the documents are together in that master review document. Then you can just use this master review document when going over your Scrivener work. This is also handy to see if a lot of people made the same comments at the same point in your work.

Something else I find handy: In our critique meetings, sometimes general ideas for changes are discussed that have not been written in the notes, or we do a little brainstorming on how to fix a particular flaw. I usually like to have the work open in Scrivener while we’re reviewing, and I jot down those ideas, suggestions, and solutions in the document or project notes (and I often create a separate note specifically labeled as results of that meeting).

Hope this is handy!

Thanks for posting your tips! Those sound like some good ideas, particular for managing comments from multiple people on the same text.