Wish for MILESTONES

Hello,

I would like to wish for a feature I call “Milestones”. Whenever I write a chapter or a scene, I stop to consider what it’s going to be about, the conflict for the scene, and yada yada yada. I’m typically brainstorming on a sheet of paper, or else loosely with a text editor (such as Scrivener)-- and kind of develop my sense of the scene, the way I want it to lay out and flow. I typically write (or type) in the “Milestones” (Major “beats”, if I can use that word here) that I want my scene to follow. Then, as I’m writing, I am reminded of whatever it is that I’m trying to “get to” by the “milestones”.

So, how I would envision this working out as a feature, is to open Scrivener, start laying out my scene synopsis (which I do via annotations), then my list of goals, questions, considerations, etc, (that are similarly handled nicely enough now using the annotation feature)-- and then the actual milestones I want for the scene. So it’s sort of like this:

[Synopsis blah blah blah]
[Goals:
– Lots of blah blah blah
– Maybe some more blah blah blah and some yada yada tossed in too…
]
[Milestone Blah]

[Milestone Some more Blah]

[Milestone Etc.]

After thinking about this for a while, it occurs to me that this would be really useful if it was combined with a “page-folding” feature. So you could add your milestones and then “open” or “close” them as you wish, or even by a whole document (at the document level).

Then, if I’ve done my job well (as an author), I can very quickly scan down the list of milestones, find the one(s) I’m interested in and open them up. The rest of the scene can stay “closed”, but with the milestone indicating what it is, what it’s for-- perhaps even with a selectable amount of “text bleedthrough” to make it easier to see what’s in the milestone. And of course the milestone itself should have some indicator – perhaps a color change-- for whether it’s empty (though could contain annotations, for getting ready to write into the milestone). And then some other color when it contains story text.

However, it’s important to note that Milestones, the way I envision them, are not separate documents, though if you wanted to, you could show them in the binder as an extra feature. But rather, are “tags” or something in the text-- that can be created / used / edited / removed as part of the text, using the text editor. They are simply styled differently and have the page-folding ability. Perhaps it might be practical to be able to create them just by writing a special tag, but then edit them or remove them by clicking (or double-clicking) on them to put them into that mode. And then to otherwise ignore them as you’re writing on the page, apart from the folding aspect. The very last milestone on the page, would fold the remaining text (if any) and then permit a line below it to add new text or milestones underneath.

Stylistically, I think Milestones would look best if they were maybe raised headers, giving them more of a “button-ish” feel, or something like that-- as opposed to being rendered like annotations are, with just a minimal box around them-- but either way would do fine. Just remember that you can click (or whatever) on the milestone to open/close it, and also have some type of indication whether it was empty or used.

The idea being, I could enter the milestones that carry a more abstract level of the story, and very quickly enter the story overview, via the milestones, and then drill-down into it and enter the specific text/prose for that beat.

The fact that they can “fold” (roll-up, whatever you want to call it) just makes it easier when I’m not editing a section, I can still see the general story in the milestone “beats” while I’m working above or below a particular section.

Whadaya think? Would you be willing to implement something like this?

JWhitten

It seems to me that using the Binder, keywords, and Collections you could achieve what you want.

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Couldn’t you use the Document title for this? You could then have different levels of milestones by having documents on different levels. And the synopsis for each document could explain more about each milestone.

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Corkboard view shows synopsis entries. Put your milestones there. Document view shows text and, at the same time, you can see the synopsis for that text in the Inspector.

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How about a combination of Document Notes and Annotations?

E.g.

You have the road map in the Notes, and you’ve marked each relevant point in the text with an named annotation, which you can search for in long documents. BTW, you can set annotations to be ignored in Compilation, so that you never have to delete them afterwards. Obviously, you’d fill in the Synopsis field as well…

Would that work?

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Nah, can’t do it that way, that I’m able to perceive anyway. Perhaps you could show me what you have in mind?

Thanks for the reply,

JWhitten

That is more plausible, but they don’t appear inline in the text as I’m working. Although I do agree that you can sort of do the “folding” thing because they’re technically separate documents. However, I don’t think that will quite work-- I’ll give it a try though… but it seems like I’d be forever selecting milestones to edit-- though I guess I am going to do some of that anyway… I’m going to try it out.

On the plus side, it would show them in the binder, though that isn’t as big a deal for me, more of a bonus if it works. I really like seeing my stuff inline.

Thanks for the suggestion!

JWhitten

Thanks for the reply. Here’s a couple of screenshots that show some examples of how I do it now. (And I also know about, and use the object inspector, and keywords, etc.). But I really like having it inline to work with.

This screenshot shows how I do the synopsis inline, using the blue/teal highlighter annotation color. I also copy-n-paste it into the synopsis area in the inspector, so I can have it in the outliner and stuff.

Then I put my GOALS and notes, work items, and such. I also use the Notes area in the inspector. But for other stuff, oftentimes I’ll put images there.

I like having the synopsis & goals/notes and stuff as annotations, because then when I’m working back and forth between myself and readers, I can turn them on/off as appropriate and they can share my notes (annotations) that way. And I can turn them off easily for compiling.

image

This next screenshot shows how I do “Milestones”, generally with the Red annotation color. This would work slightly better if “annotations” didn’t automatically “seek each other out” to connect. So they’re similar to applying a font-style (for instance) but not quite the same. You can have a line of bold text, a line of NOT-bold empty text, and another line of bold text and the NOT-BOLD section will stay NOT-bold. With annotations of the same color, they seek each other out and join up. So when you’re going down the line putting in milestones, they all end up being a big annotation blob, and it’s kind of a pain-in-the-but to put non-annotation text in there-- have to turn the annotation off. Just one more thing and it takes my head away from writing and into fiddling with the editor, at the exact moment I need to be focused on story.

Also, visually, it’s distracting to look at milestones and see them ALL as one great big blob. Sometimes when I set them up, I’ll intersperse them with ‘__TEXT__’ markers, just so they don’t blob together, but that’s distracting too (yeah… third-world problems :slight_smile: )

You can also see the other thing I do, I use highlighters to indicate different things to myself. Orange, to me, as in this case, tells me this is text I want to revisit with a more jaundiced eye toward revision. Stuff I know as I write or look at it, I probably want to take another swing at. If I use red (rose), it’s text I’m pretty sure I don’t like and I want to delete-- etc. Most of the colors mean something to me as I work.

One other thing is that I sometimes put notes as annotations to myself-- and they blob up with the Milestones.

So the idea I have, is to be able to FOLD the text in the editor according to the Milestones. So, using the example you see there, it might look like this (see screenshot). Admittedly, I would probably want to get better at making more descriptive milestones.

Another secondary suggestion I had on the same topic, is maybe make the amount of text that can be seen when a milestone is flexible, so you might get a line or two of the story, just as a reminder. I wouldn’t think that would be a per-milestone setting though, but rather one that was common to all milestones, that maybe would get set in the F12 options.

You can also see in this image how the annotations blob up. I can solve this by using a different color-- but it’s a pain, and more “editor-fiddling” when I want to be writing. I did mock-up how indicating the fold might work. If there is text to reveal (unfold) it might have some sort of indicator on it-- I used a ‘+’ in my example. Personally, my preference would be to see them as a rendered header of some sort, kind of button-ish. But I could live with them if they looked like annotations. Can’t always have everything :slight_smile:

You can also see how I sometimes talk to myself and put notes in line to work with. They don’t show up in the compiled output because I turn them off unless I specifically want to share them and leave them on.

That’s kind of how I started in the first place. But I tend to use my “notes” in the inspector as a catch-all. Images, snippets, remembering names or places, etc. I’ve gravitated to using in line annotations because I can turn them on/off as I need to when I compile. Then if I’m working with someone, I can leave them on and they can see my work notes and annotations (and milestones).

I put some screenshots in a different reply. You can see how I do the synopsis, goals/notes/“stuff”, and then the milestones.

Thanks for the suggestion!

JWhitten

I use scrivenings view with Show Titles, and the Outliner with synopsis visible.

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That’s actually not terrible! :slight_smile: Though it doesn’t handle the folding. Yes, you can deal with that some by what you select in the binder, but that aspect seems a little tedious.

What do you do, split your screen horizontally and have an editor and an outline view together?

I think, in general, I’m still hoping I could convince the devs to turn this into a feature. I like the idea and I think it would be extremely handy.

Jwhitten

OK.

So, you’ve effectively got two different sorts of annotations: a) for pure milestones synopses in teal, and b) other notes in red, which as you say is visually overwhelming.

Some thoughts… What about:

  1. leaving the teal notes inline, and convert the red notes to inspector comments? Obviously, these can both be included or ignored at compilation to taste, yet the longer notes aren’t so visible when you’re editing. They also act as a navigable index to the chapter. Using both inline and inspector comments in this way means they won’t ‘blob’ up.
  2. convert the ‘other stuff’ you now put in notes into a linked document with Document Bookmarks and show it in a split / copy editor. Then put the red notes in the Inspector notes as per my original post.
  3. More radically… Split your chapters into smaller chunks, and have a section type “DO NOT COMPILE” in between to hold the notes. You can choose to view and/or compile these according to taste, of course. Document elements don’t have to be whole scenes. In general, people tend to underuse Scrivener’s ability to concatenate small chunks of text and it’s one of its most flexible and important features…

The first thought:

The developers would obviously have to weigh in at whether ‘folding inserts’ would be feasible, but I suspect the answer will be along the lines of the workarounds we’ve been discussing. Good luck, anyway!

You can fold/unfold and hoist the Binder, an use both split screen and copyholders.

How would I fold? Just select / not select what I want to work on?

That might be workable somewhat, but the downside is that it doesn’t offer the ability to show milestones in the compiled output… does it?

Those are some good suggestions, but I very much like working with it inline. I’m giving the idea of adding another level in the binder a try. I’m not sure offhand how it would affect my workflow…

The one thing it occurs to me-- in thinking about it-- is that items I don’t select won’t appear as placeholders in the text.

I don’t think I care whether it’s one document or many, though certainly easier for cutting-n-pasting if it’s one… but I don’t do that all that often, so probably not a big deal. But not having the milestone show up in the editor kind of defeats the purpose.

I don’t have a big problem with having the notes and the milestones on the same page, I just don’t like it when they reach across blank lines to join up into blobs. If they would behave like ordinary font styles, they would probably do okay. I also do sometimes create annotations using a slightly different color, which sort of solves the problem, but then I have to create the annotation and use the color-picker to find a color I can use. Though once there’s some text, it’s not really a problem after that.

The placeholder text sorta works too-- except you can’t get rid of it when you compile, so it looks ‘clunky’-- though, probably annotations do too :slight_smile:

How about making them explicitly into (paragraph or character) styles? E.g. have a Milestone style in one colour / font, give it a shortcut and you have an easy way of applying it. Then you can opt to show or hide the milestones on compile depending on what you want. Obviously you could have another style for Notes etc.

In the Editor:

Compiled with milestones

Omit Milestones in Compilation Styles

Compiled without milestones

This would be quicker than changing the colour of the annotations, and perhaps as effective — there’s no danger of the ‘blobs’ amalgamating either. Obviously you can make the Styles stand out more or less with normal formatting tools, to taste.

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That’s not a terrible idea. I have some specific styles that I use now, though none of them for that type of purpose. I kind of like the thin-outline the annotations get, but I can probably live without them. I’m just used to them at this point.

One thing I also do like, is the idea that I can create more nuanced “stuff” using the styles. It would make it easier to add synopsis, and other notes and stuff-- and be able to pull out the stuff that my beta-readers wouldn’t need/like.

I still think I’d like to have the feature if the devs will add it in. But I like your suggestion of using styles in the meantime.

Thanks for thinking of that!

John

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I’ve never used annotations (and I doubt I will personally), but what you did is very interesting.

Thanks for saying so! :slight_smile:

John

If I recall what you want, you want to mark points in the text. You could assign keywords to those files and make collections. Maybe I missed your point.