Writing a series - is it possible in scrivener?

When I have over 100K total words in a folder, scrivener is impossibly slow. It’s as if it has to review every document in the entire list every time I click on a folder (as opposed to having an indesx for file info).

I’m trying to write a series. It makes sense to put it all in the same binder (is that the right name for the root folder?) since each book uses the same supporting information (characters, places, spells, creatures etc.). Having all the books in the same binder also allows me to quickly refer back and forth for continuity. Is there are a way to reasonably do this?

Thanks

Are you trying to load the entire 100K words into a single Scrivenings session? Yes, doing that will slow Scrivener down, but the whole point of Scrivener’s design is that you don’t need to do that in most situations.

Katherine

Thank you for your answer. Here’s an example: I have a book folder containing chapter folders which contain text documents. As long as I click on the text documents, I’m OK. The chapter folders are a little slow, but still workable. God help me if I click on the book folder - even to just expand it, or even by accident. I have to wait minutes for before I can do anything. Imagine if I clicked on the series folder with books, supporting info, research, etc. If you’re saying this behavior is intentional, it seems like a design flaw that would be extremely easy to fix with an index file.

As Katherine mentioned, it sounds like you’re launching Scrivenings mode for a container that has over 100k words in it. Yes, that will be slower than opening up a single doc or a smaller container of docs.

Next time that happens, change the displayed view from Scrivenings mode to Outliner mode (View > Outline). Scrivener should remember this choice, so the next time you inadvertently select that particular large container you won’t be hit with a longer than usual wait.

Best,
Jim

The Binder is the index file for your project.

I wouldn’t say this behavior is “intentional,” rather that it’s a predictable result of trying to load 100K words at once.

To avoid it, “don’t do that.” As @JimRac suggested, configure the master folder to load in Outline view by default, store the text in a separate container from your supporting info, and so on.

Katherine

Unless you are referring to the old version of Scrivener, it’s worth noting you do not have to wait around for Scrivenings to finish building a session. It can be interrupted immediately if it was made in error.

Also in the new version, you can also select the Draft folder, right-click on its icon in the editor header, and “Lock Group View Mode” to something like outliner or corkboard. That way you can freely use Scrivenings mode elsewhere but never see it attempt to do so when clicking on the Draft.

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I’ve never written a series, but there are many writers here who have, so perhaps one will jump with some recommendations. But if I were writing a series and wanted to keep everything in one project, I would probably keep the book I’m actively working on in the Draft/Manuscript folder, and keep the other books in their own separate folders at the same level. My thinking here is that I would probably only be regularly compiling the book that I’m actively writing, so that’s the one that would go in the Draft/Manuscript folder. When I was done with that book, I’d move it out of the Draft/Manuscript folder and move my next book into it.

So, instead of:

Draft/Manuscript
= Book 1
== Book 1’s subfolders
= Book 2
== Book 2’s subfolders
= Book 3
== Book 3’s subfolders

Try this, assuming Book 1 is done, I’m actively working on Book 2, and Book 3 is in planning:

Draft/Manuscript
= Book 2
== Book 2’s subfolders
Book 1
== Book 1’s subfolders
Book 3
== Book 3’s subfolders

Another approach is to keep your drafts for the books in their own individual projects, and the joint research and background for all the books consolidated in its own project.

Or some variation on any of the above. There is no one right way to do this, and there are upsides and downsides to every approach.

One last point. I have a project whose draft folder contains a total of 250k words across 240 documents. It consists entirely of text, so no images or footnotes or comments or anything other than text.

Loading the entire thing in Scrivenings takes about 10 seconds or so. My laptop has decent specs, but its i5 processor and memory (8 gb) are certainly not the latest or greatest.

So I’m wondering, what it is about your project or PC that makes loading 100k take minutes.

Best,
Jim

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Perhaps how I set up a series project will help with your issue? (That’s not to say my way is “the right way” – there are as many ways to scrivener as there are scriveners!)

I have a “universe bible” project and each book within the series will have their own project. I have 3 or 4 versions of my current book, all in the same project (the last version is over 100k words by itself!).

I’ve found it a little frustrating to go between bible and project. My solution has been to copy documents as needed from the bible to the book project. For each item copied over, I mark the bible copy with “do not edit. refer to project name”. At the end of this book project, I’ll copy documents back to the bible, thus making sure the next book is using accurate information.

I’m always interested in how people scrivener, so thank you for your question. Bonus points because the other answers were very helpful for me as well!

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Could it be that your documents have embedded images? If so, they can be moved outside the Draft/Manuscript and referred to with placeholders of the form <$img:imageName>, meaning they’ll be compiled when needed but will not be loaded in the Editor. That speeds things up considerably.

If there’s really a 100k word limit beyond which the Windows app slows down a lot, I’m a bit shocked.

Which version of Scrivener are you using @DanielTweddell ?

I had similar problems with V1 with a behemoth of a 700K+ project a few years back which prompted me to split it up into multiple projects, one for each book in the series and a ‘Bible’ project with setting, character and other cross-book useful info. But as I’m a pantsing overwriter most of have reached 200+k easily.

I am slowly moving over to V3 and have found it much much better at loading Scrivenings with large file contents. What would either take several minutes to load or crash Scrivener altogether, now only takes seconds. It’s been a learning curve with the way compile works but has definitely been worth the upgrade.

Thanks for the lock view mode tip @AmberV . It’s useful little features like this I wasn’t aware of or had forgotten about that keep me stalking these forums. :grinning:

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Thank you so much for the reply. That’s a great suggestion on changing the view as a work around. That will save me the little hair I have left.

Thank you for taking the time to explain that in detail. I’m going to have to review the way I have my project laid out and see how your suggestion works. Right now it doesn’t seem to make much difference which folder the data is in. Once the project hits a certain size the whole thing slows down. I have an i7 with 8GM ram as well as a Gen 4 3D NAND SSD, so it’s pretty unlikely the system is the slowdown. I do have a large number of snapshots, so maybe that affects it.

I’m using the latest version and build. I wonder if the PC version won’t allow me to cancel, but the mac version would?
Thanks for the view mode suggestion. JimRac suggested something similar that’s a good work around.

Wow your project sounds like an enormous one. Kudos to you for figuring out a workaround for the performance.

I appreciate your feedback. My observations for design were only in case you are able to pass information along to the scrivener team. I was a programmer in a past life and spent countless hours mitigating the performance associated with opening and closing text documents. By “index,” I meant the numerical correlation to the textual data, as is used in databases for performance. Something like that would allow Scrivener to sift through millions of documents in milliseconds and so there would be little or no performance degradation for large projects.

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my questions.

I don’t see any lag for scrivenings at my machine, ever. I recently was trying out RegEx searches for duplicate words within a number of words of each other, within a number of characters of each other, etc. and was baffled to see results in what seemed to be zero time on a Silicon Mac Mini in a 575k project.

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The Mac version is much, much faster in Scrivenings mode than the Windows one. I’ve never noticed lag of any kind on Mac V2 even on a 2011 or 2012 Air. The same can’t be said for the Windows version.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the difference in platforms.