Feedback Wanted: How do you structure your Scriv projects?

Which of the following structures do you use in your Scrivener projects?

Book with Parts and Chapters: Parts folders containing Chapter folders containing text documents acting as scenes/sub-sections
93
25%
Book with Parts and Chapters: Parts folders containing text documents that each serve as a whole chapter
30
8%
Book with Chapters: Chapter folders containing text documents acting as scenes/sub-sections
103
28%
Book with Chapters: A bunch of text documents that each serve as a whole chapter
48
13%
Screenplays/scripts - a bunch of text documents each serving as one or more scenes
24
7%
Screenplays/scripts - other structure
17
5%
Essay or document using one of Scrivener's template formats
24
7%
Other (please describe in a reply)
28
8%
 
Total votes: 367
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MimeticMouton
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Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:52 am Post

Marta wrote:It gave me exactly what I needed.

Excellent!
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CraigInOregon
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Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:07 am Post

I experimented around when I was familiarizing myself with Scrivener, but now?

I tend up use Novel with Chapters as my core template (No parts).

Then what I do is have a single folder into which I place several chapters/scenes. Try not to number them until I know where they really go, to avoid renumbering.

So I keep my structure pretty uncomplicated.
Author of The Woodsman, Nice Girl Like You, and more.

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PC812
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Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:57 am Post

I use Scrivener for just about everything now. The only time I use Word is for stuff other people send me to edit.

Here are the different ways I use it:

NOVELS/SERIES

Combining these two because the processes are very similar. Basically in a novel project, I use folders for chapters and then I use a different text file for each scene. This makes it very easy to reorganize or shuffle as necessary.

I've recently begun to experiment with writing series—several short stories of 10-15K featuring the same characters. Each series has its own project file, but all the stories for a given series are in the same project file. In the compile group, first thing I do is create a major folder (and change the icon to one of the book icons) and then I label that the title of the story. Then the chapters and scenes go in that file. Makes it easy to keep the stories organized and also easy to access if I ever need to refer back to previous stories.

I usually have a brief description of each chapter before I write, just a few sentences, and I keep this open in the top screen of the split-screen so that I can easily refer to it.


SCRIPTS

I just used Scrivener for writing a comic script and oh my god, was it ever amazing. So easy to organize everything. Puts Final Draft and Celtx to shame. This is much more straightforward—folder for an issue and a separate text document for each page.

Haven't used it for screenplays yet, but will be writing some of those this semester (I'm a part-time grad student studying screenwriting at the moment).


CLASSES

Each class gets its own Scrivener file, and I'll import the different research documents into them, with a different document for each paper.


ARTICLES

I write list articles for WhatCulture, so for these, each article will have its own folder and each entry on the list gets its own text document. Then in the split-screen, I'll have the title of each entry in the top document to refer to.

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Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:56 am Post

I use Scrivener for writing my nonfiction book, with a project for each major section (probably nine of those), with several chapters in each.
I also use it for writing medium- and long-form journalism, generally stories > 1000 words. Each story is a project, with each section of the story given a subdocument.
In both the book and stories, I import all the research into the research folder.
I'm looking forward to trying it with a play after this book is done, or possibly the next one. Hadn't thought to use it for my classes but now that I know others are, I may consider it....
Last edited by brett on Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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asteckley
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Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:53 pm Post

First, let me say this is one of the most useful software applications I have ever purchased in over 20 years!
I use it for a variety of project types from screenplay to novel to paper and report writing. I also use it as a kind of project management system where there isn't actually a particular central document, which is not at all what it is meant for. These are projects I manage involving several team members. I plan out tasks for my team members and am able to categorize them using labels and keywords, attach task numbers and level-of-effort estimates (using the custom meta-data) and write up task 'statements of work' as separate files which i then compile and deliver (in portions) to the team.
It is a mis-use of Scriv as a project management system, but I so like the application that I coerce these project management activities into it rather than use other PM software tools.
But PLEASE -- don't start changing features on Scrivener to aim at making it a PM tool. Stay focused on what it is meant to be!
My biggest fear for the product is that you start adding so many additional features to make it do more than your original scope and then the UI gets increasingly more complex and 'deharmonized'. (Eclipse is a good example -- it is an open-source productivity tool for writing software that started out great. Over the years, though, it has had so many add-on features and plugins cobbled onto it that it has lost coherence and become a complete mess.)

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lunk
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Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:08 pm Post

I use Scrivener for writing articles for scientific journals (forest research), so I have made my own template for this. The draft folder is split in the various sections of normal articles (IMRaD structure - Intro, Material and methods, Results, and Discussion). Each part then has it's subparts, to make sure I don't forget anyting.
When I start writing an article I quite early decide what parts to include in the Results, and create sub-parts for each kind of measurement or calculation, and then create the same sub-parts in the other sections.
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Sun Jul 06, 2014 7:41 pm Post

Generally each project is multibook, or at the very least something that has multiple, publishable parts, so I have my draft folder divided into folders for each publishable bit (volume, short story, essay, blog post, whatever, though its generally a volume, one book in a series). Inside each of those folders is just a list of text documents, each a scene in the book. Chapters aren't terribly important to my process. Sometimes each scene is going to be a chapter when the thing is finally laid out. Sometimes I'll have chapter structures that I will end up building out of extant material close to the end of the process, but they don't inform things now, as I'm generating content in Scrivener.

Outside of the draft folder I keep folders for Characters, Settings, Props and Undetermined, to keep my various notes categorized, but then generally just keep the documents inside each alphabetical so I can find things visually fast enough that I don't generally need to search for anything, This reservoir of notes applies across the series, so its nice to have it all in there more and more as I progress through the series, and is likely the part that does the most evolution in structure since I'm living with it the whole time.

I don't find hierarchical outlining to have much use in Scrivener beyond compartmentalizing things to keep them out of each others' hair.

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saoir
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Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:35 pm Post

I am new to writing books but have been writing large business documents for decades. Though I am a newb I am surprised so many writers here pre-decide on their chapter structure as they write, or before they write. Chapters seem to me to be one of the least important aspect of the writing/creating process and I expect to tackle it only when the whole book is finished.
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Mon Jul 21, 2014 1:46 pm Post

saoir, I can't give a you a definitive explanation - possibly because every writer's approach will probably be different - but I'll give you mine.

I've two reasons for planning chapters, and, indeed, scenes, from the outset. One is for my own satisfaction as I write. Much more than the word-count, chapters give me milestones by which I can measure my writing progress.

The other reason is possibly more fundamental, at least for me. I believe that there's a necessary rhythm to novels, and to chapters and to scenes. (When I wrote business reports, I used to believe that there was a natural rhythm to them, too, which one ignored at one's peril :wink: - but that's another story.) Of course, for thrillers there's the attraction of the cliff-hanger chapter ending, but that's very far from the end of it. Every genre has its natural rhythm in macro and micro forms, in terms of emotion, drama, conflict, the introduction of new characters, the termination of others, set-ups, pay-offs and so on - at least, so I believe. And the beginning, ends and middles of chapters and scenes are part of it. Readers become used to these rhythms; subconsciously they can accept departures from the norm for the genre, but if a narrative falls consistently "off-beat", the reader will usually detect that something isn't quite right.

Of course, you could ignore all this in the first version, and put it right in the re-write. But given that it involves something quite basic, that would possibly require a lot more work. So chapters and scenes are there from the beginning - not immutably, but as a way of "laying down a beat", which you can elaborate or modify later.
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saoir
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Mon Jul 21, 2014 1:54 pm Post

Thanks Hugh - I think I have been reading too many books recently where there seems to be no real reason behind chapters other than a break.
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pigfender
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Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:45 am Post

saoir wrote:Thanks Hugh - I think I have been reading too many books recently where there seems to be no real reason behind chapters other than a break.


Too many?

I think that chapters are at their best when they are nothing but a break; a form of hard punctuation used to help control the pacing of the piece.

Generally speaking (in my mind at least), if you are using large sections to dictate changes in tone, or substantial geographical, temporal or other shifts in perspective... then that's a Part, not a Chapter.

Ultimately, though, it's a question of semantics. There is no right way to write, and no right way to structure... as long as it works!
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Jaysen
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Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:20 am Post

pigfender wrote:I think that chapters are at their best when they are nothing but a break; a form of hard punctuation used to help control the pacing of the piece.

Generally speaking (in my mind at least), if you are using large sections to dictate changes in tone, or substantial geographical, temporal or other shifts in perspective... then that's a Part, not a Chapter.

Ultimately, though, it's a question of semantics. There is no right way to write, and no right way to structure... as long as it works!

I think this is highly dependent on what you are writing. Text books have chapters for dramatically different reasons than fiction. Both reasons are legitimate and both are … on the surface … mutually exclusive. No?

Isn't the same true of parts?

As to "no right way to write" I again disagree. The "right way" is highly dependent on the intention of the work. For me the right way is the way that puts a smile on my wife's face. That style is not commercially viable. For folks in the each "style" there are clear standards that define the "right way". Isn't the definition of success as an author dependent on understanding the "right way" to express a concept for a work?

We definitely agree that the "standards used to express one authors version of the 'right way'" may be malleable under many circumstances.

But I have no head. What do I know…
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Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:08 pm Post

Jaysen wrote:may be malleable under many circumstances.
From a plethora of differing perspectives, that's one word that perfectly sums up the writing process. Hairy-arsed or not, that's the welder in you, coming out. :wink:
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Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:30 pm Post

pigfender wrote:
saoir wrote:Thanks Hugh - I think I have been reading too many books recently where there seems to be no real reason behind chapters other than a break.


Too many?
Just saying that most of the books I have read in the last couple of years have shown no pattern or flow in their use of chapters. More as you say, a hard pause, and an easy way of remembering where I stopped reading :)

I think that chapters are at their best when they are nothing but a break; a form of hard punctuation used to help control the pacing of the piece.

Generally speaking (in my mind at least), if you are using large sections to dictate changes in tone, or substantial geographical, temporal or other shifts in perspective... then that's a Part, not a Chapter.

Ultimately, though, it's a question of semantics. There is no right way to write, and no right way to structure... as long as it works!


I agree with you. Of course there are some stories that involve very distinctive sections where the story changes location or pace or another story appears. That would be an important use of chapters.

As it happens mine doesn't appear to have this kind of structure. So I will just have to read through and choose places where I have the 'feeling' that a hard pause would fit there.
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Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:25 pm Post

Related to this structuring question, I have worked with many many writers who use Scrivener (teaching workshops) and it seems to me that there are two basic "approaches" to structuring their manuscripts:

1) Text files as chapters--in which case they have a manuscript folder with a column of Level 1 text documents in the Binder (they build their scene breaks themselves manually into each chapter within the text file). When the work reaches a certain length or density they consider looking at Parts, but this is not as common I find (but I work with a lot of writers who are writing YA, mystery, romance and NOT epic length novels).

2) Folders as chapters--in which case each folder comprises text files that serve as scenes. I find this the best way to organize a manuscript and get the most benefit out of Scrivener.

Something I see that comes up often is the question of how to format or set a level for elements that are part of the manuscript, but not technically a scene or chapter: a prelude, epilogue, interstitial material between chapters, etc.

If you are using one of the above techniques (which most do)--then you can get into some tricky formatting issues when it comes to Compile. Most beginner and intermediate users of the program are very intimidated by the Compile settings and have difficulty learning the level settings and custom formatting for each level and the titles for those.

I have wondered if there might be a way to have a new text file designation/option for that set of documents that sit "outside the manuscript" but are embedded in it (like interstitial material, prologue, epilogue)--these text files would have a preset "as is" formatting; would have page break and title presets; and would not be treated as chapters or scenes for numbering purposes. Similar to how there exists a Title Page template (only that sits outside the manuscript in Front Matter), this would be a text file option that sits within the manuscript folder, but is treated differently.

Have I explained this well enough? Thanks for considering.