When editing, focus on dialog - or dialogue

I would like to do an edit pass that is focusing on the ‘voice’ each of the main characters has in their dialogue. I could use highlight or coloured text for each one, and read through, looking for just that colour, but would like to be able to focus more closely. Basically, I would like to output/compile just the actual dialogue for one character at a time, probably just as series of entries one after another, so I can concentrate on their voice for the book.
Any suggestions?

I too have been dealing with this. It would be easiest if there were another “layer” in scrivener so that there could be more “separators” when you compile, with the ability to have Folder, Document, Element. Or something, and the separators between “elements” could be nothing. Those could be Chapter, Scene, Speaker. And for those who might comment, the novel with parts does NOT do the trick. And I don’t really expect something like this to be implemented, and haven’t wished for it, since the folder/document paradigm is what Scrivener is all about (just four separators possible)

So, what have I done? Yup. Colored all dialogue according to the speaker. Not too effective. Then I put in keywords for each scene indicating who the speakers were. Then I search for those scenes with Tom as a keyword, compile those scenes to word, then go in and manually edit out the extraneous crap. Now I have Tom’s dialogue. Then I do this for each speaker. I have spent a week at this and it was a real PITA. What I wouldn’t give for a software package that allowed me to do this more naturally!!

Scrivener doesn’t restrict you to the number of levels you have: you can have add sub-documents to documents in the same way you add documents to folders simply by indenting in the Binder in the normal way. Scrivener doesn’t really care that in some templates the levels are called Parts / Chapters / Scenes etc.

Screen Shot 2012-03-27 at 09.15.52.png

Scrivener actually thinks in ‘Levels’ – a hierarchy made up of a combination of Folders / Document Groups and Documents. When you go to Compile > Formatting, you’ll see that a new level of document has been added (Level2+), giving you specific control over how that level is formatted.

In your case, presumably, you’ll have no text in the ‘Scenes’ level – it will all be in the elements. The scenes therefore don’t have to be ‘Documents’ and can be ‘Folders’ instead (Documents > Convert > Convert to Folder). (NB, this will change the levels in Compile > Formatting.)

Then in Compile > Separators you can specify that consecutive documents (i.e. the elements) will have no visible separator, while still being able to add a marker between consecutive scenes (in ‘Text and Folder Separator’).

There are a lot of options here, so you’ll have to play around to get the exact effect you want, but hopefully this will give you something to start with.



David - The problem I am having is the limited number of separators. I want to compile so that Chapters start on a new page, Chapter text starts a line down, scene breaks have a centered #, and dialogue transitions have no separator. If chapters are folders and scenes are files, then what are dialogue elements? If files, how do I simultaneously get # in scene breaks and nothing in dialogue transitions? Also, In my current WIP, I have 3,000+ Distinct lines of dialogue (= speaker transitions). I’m not anxious to try to create 3000+ files, and then have to deal with all the associated issues. What I really would like is a “Speaker” attribute I could assign to each line of dialogue and then only compile Tom’s lines. Etc.

What I did this morning was compile to word, strategically replace quote marks, pull the file into Excel, manipulate it, save as a text file, then pull back into Word. Took me less than hour, but I have each line of dialogue as a separate line in Word, nothing but dialogue (no attribution etc.), With all of Tom’s dialogue starting on page 1, then all of Mary’s starting on page 12, then all etc…

I’m now able to be sure that each speaker is consistent from start to finish, and that each speaker is distinct from each other.

Hmm. If I simply write in Excel … Okay. Bad idea.

OK – I think there may be a way to get the separators right (with a bit of fiddling) but it’s too late to try it now.

There’s also a way to see all of a character’s dialogue at once if you do go to the effort of having a single doc per speech: give them a keyword with the character’s name and do a Project Search on that keyword with the filter set to Keyword. This will create a new collection with the matched dialogue which you can save.

But, I also wouldn’t want so many documents in a project.



Right – I think I can get reasonably close to what you’re asking for in terms of separators: a bit fiddly but achievable.

Chapter = Folder (Page Breaks before)
Scene = Folder (# between scenes but not after last scene in Chapter)
Element (Dialogue) = Document (nothing between)

In Compile > Contents, tick Pg Break Before for every chapter bar the first one.

In Compile > Separators, as screenshot below

In Compile > Formatting, as screenshot below

I can only upload 3 attachments, so I’ve put the resulting rtf tile here:


I’ve not done anything about other types of formatting (titles, indent etc because that’s all basic stuff and you’ll want to make your own design choices) but hopefully it’s enough for you to go on if you do decide to use it.

My post above explains how to collate an individual’s dialogue. To print them out, simply use Search Results instead of Manuscript in Compile > Contents.