What do you name your files?

Hey all,

When starting a fiction novel that you have no idea about, other than the genre, what do you name your files? Or am I the only one who starts a piece of writing without a super clear sense of direction sometimes? Often I end up naming the files something very generic like “mystery.scriv” or something like that and later come back and rename them when I come up with an actual title.

Does anyone else have a pattern for how they name new writing projects if they haven’t thought much about them yet? I was thinking about this today when starting something new and was curious what everyone else did.

I don’t create a project until I have some idea what it’s about. I keep a separate IdeaFile.scriv for random bits and pieces, then drag things into a new project once I have enough to imagine growing into something concrete.

Which doesn’t mean I have anything resembling a real title at that point. More likely the working title is based on the setting, or on the main character(s), or on whatever the MacGuffin is.

I could have made my binder twice that wide and still be comfortable with the editor and the inspector.

All my projects are named right off as follows:
The last two digits of the year, followed by the project’s sequential number (2 digits again – I start back at 01 on the first of January of each year), and then whatever temporary title I have in mind at the time.
So, 2306 The evil kid.
(As soon as I type something, even just a few lines of a very generic outline, the idea’s ID number is established. I have a project where I throw all my ideas, and regardless of whether they’ll one day become a project of their own or not, they all have their own unique number.)

This way if I ever change the title at some point (even be it two, three, or heck thirteen times), I don’t lose track of old backups or anything that relates to that project, such as handwritten manuscripts and whatnot ; the number (2306 in my example) being unique and permanent throughout.

My project can later have become 2306 The murdered babysitter, it doesn’t matter the least bit if I can’t recall what the previous temporary title was, I’ll search for “2306” no matter what.

All I need is to have somewhat of an idea of how the story will end.
Most of the time it changes and the ending is only remotely what I had first envisioned.
But if you have an idea of the irony of the story (what makes the end worth everything leading to it – regardless of whether you already have a strong idea of what that path will be or not), you should be good to go.

If you write something that after all isn’t it, knowing that it isn’t it already gets you ahead.

Say your protagonist takes a car to go somewhere.
The next day you read what you wrote and go “Meh. I don’t like that he goes by car…”
Ok. Why? What’s wrong with him going by car?
Answer that question and it’s a chunk of your story right there.

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What’s wrong with him going by car?! There is no way he will fit into that trunk all 2306 stuffed animals he’s going to have if the heist goes according to plan!

I concur with the general consensus. You will find with Scrivener that you don’t make whole new projects all that often, but will resolve to a small set of projects that serve your general use. New projects get created once things grow to a certain point. Like others, I also keep a project that houses all my story ideas. Story development stays there for a time until it gets to a certain point. Then, if this is a short story idea, that material gets moved over to an other project that houses all my written short stories and those in progress. If the story idea I started with is an idea for a novel or novella, then it will, when I get enough going and am ready to commit, that material will move to a new project file of its own. I have other multipurpose projects for other parts of life/activity, whether it be other kinds of creative writing or work.

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Teddy heist ?
. . . . . . . . . . . .

Thanks for the replies. I like the idea of having a project just for ideas before launching them into full fledged projects. I have been using just my notes app (I use typora and plain markdown) for this but scrivener allowing you to see all your writings at once seems like a great way to organize your ideas.

And the best part is that if you started developing an idea into sub-documents in that “All ideas” project, creating a project of its own for that one idea is as simple as drag and drop.

In short, nothing you could have previously done would ever have to be redone.
No time lost.

The more I use Scrivener, the less helpful other apps seem.

(And yes, I’d say that even if I didn’t have that staff member shield.)


For writing, Scrivener seems to be like a swiss army knife where you have all the tools you need to do just about any type of writing. The only other writing app I really like to use at this point is Typora which I use for notes and organize all my stuff into plain nested folders. I used to use OneNote for notes until I switched to Linux and realize I couldn’t even export any of my notes. That’s when I started storing things in plain files so that i’m never locked into any platform. Took about 2 hours to copy all my notes over but I learned my lesson.

Definitely check out Chapter 21 in the user manual PDF (which is written using Markdown), when you have some time. Scrivener takes to Markdown-based writing quite well. You’d be excused for thinking otherwise by how it presents itself as a word processor with its default settings, but a lot of that can be changed, and its rich text editor makes for some interesting capabilities you won’t find elsewhere. You might also be interested in its external folder sync feature, which while originally intended for syncing with mobile apps, also works great as a way of making your writings available to other software. You needn’t give up Typora as a primary drafting tool if you find that easier than using Scrivener’s editor.

In short, you do not have to give up on keeping your work future-proofed and flexible, capable of being dropped into other programs without hassle.

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I just use the working title of the novel. (I know, boring.)