How do I keep track of my chapters if I have to break them down in dozens of documents?

mj
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Mon May 20, 2019 7:44 pm Post

kewms wrote:
mjw wrote:Keeping track of hundreds of smaller documents, reorganizing them if I find I don't like the lineup. And what to do should one of them gets corrupted and if I overlook it because there are so many documents and I won't be able to find the backup for it. I wanted to know if snapshot works with a 400,000 words document and if that would protect it in case it get corrupted.


Well, if you want to be able to reorganize a 400,000 word document it's sort of necessary to split it in pieces, isn't it? I mean, you can do it the "Scrivener way," by breaking it into chunks and moving the chunks around in the Binder, or you can do it the "Word way" by copying and pasting between locations, but either way you're splitting it up, right?

The advantage of the Scrivener approach is that each "chunk" is an independent document, and so you're not likely to drop Chunk A in the middle of Section B by mistake. This in itself makes the kind of corruption you're worried about much less likely.

I don't know if Snapshots have been tested with a single 400,000 word chunk, but it you're trying to manipulate 400,000 words in a single Binder document you are ignoring almost all of the reasons for using Scrivener in the first place. You're almost certainly going to be disappointed because Word is better at behaving like Word than Scrivener is.

Katherine


Perhaps this is my own personal quibble I need to sort out, but I was concerned about being daunted in having to rearrange a long extending list of documents and keeping track of all of them like that.
Last edited by mjw on Mon May 20, 2019 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mj
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Mon May 20, 2019 7:45 pm Post

JimRac wrote:
mjw wrote:Well, I have a lot of material, and the thought of splitting it into dozens, if not hundreds of single documents into folders already bugs me out, such as if I have to rearrange them, and end up not being about to find where one is or get the full picture because its so unorganized and spend my time just scrolling up and down.
Without repeating too much what Katherine and Lunk have already said, if you've got a 400k WIP, you're still going have to figure out a way to track where everything is. How do you handle that in one big 400k document? What tools would you use?

mjw wrote:Well I was under the impression that the core principle of Scrivener was versatility, being able to work the way that works for you.
Your understanding is correct. If you want to organize your documents by chapter, put a chapter in each doc. If you want to organize your docs by scene, do that. (That's what I do.) Some people break it down to the paragraph level. Whatever floats your boat. Hell, you can keep everything in one big document, but, frankly, a person doing that is missing out on many of Scrivener's helpful features, and, as already pointed out above, at that point you might as well be in Word.

As you're deciding how to organize your work in Scrivener, keep in mind that you apply scrivener features like Status, Labels, and Keywords to individual documents.

Status can be handy, particularly if you're like me and prefer to write scenes out of order, because if you break up your work into separate document per scene, it allows you to specify a different Status per scene. So you can see at a glance from views like the Outliner or Corkboard which scenes are Pending, First Draft, Need Rework, or whatever.

If your work has multiple points of view or characters or themes or pretty much anything that would be useful for you to track, you can assign Keywords to documents based on these things, and then you can group your work by them using Collections. And again, in the Outliner or Corkboard views, you can see them at a glance.

When you want to view your scenes and chapters contiguously, you can do that via Scrivenings mode, which will stitch them together, and simulate the kind of view you'd get if working in something like Word.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas of the organizational tools available in Scrivener, when you start breaking things up at some level into separate document. Can you visualize any of these being useful to you? Again, how would you handle tracking of things like status or theme or POV changes in one big 400k document in Word? (Or whatever?) What tools would you use to track status, for instance?

My WIP is at 200k+ words, and I couldn't imagine trying to do this in one huge doc. If Scrivener or the other binder-based tools didn't exist, I'd probably use individual Word docs broken out by chapter, or try to write it in OneNote. But it would be a frickin mess. :twisted:

As Lunk already suggested, my recommendation is for you run to through the Tutorial again. The first time one gets exposed to Scrivener, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Lots of bells and whistles. Run through it again, but this time solely from the perspective of organization. For that matter, study how the tutorial itself is organized, maybe you'll see something that can apply to your own work.

Best,
Jim


This was very helpful-thank you for sharing :)

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Mon May 20, 2019 8:31 pm Post

Before you put your 400,000-word document into Scrivener, you might try importing something much smaller (or part of the large work) and playing with it a bit. Or start some fake something in Scriv and play with that.

When I first decided to try Scriv, I first imported an already published short story of 6,000 words and three chapters. I played with that, saw how I could identify my chapters (mine are empty folders with the actual text-filled scenes as documents in the folders), label them, move them, etc. Then I made sure I could compile the story into a format I could use to publish.

That way I never risked anything I cared about, and only after I felt comfortable using Scrivener at a basic level did I start writing a novel in it. Because I did it that way, I never hit that "steep learning curve" so many talk about, but then I confess to not using a lot of the features, and I don't compile anything publish-ready. I take my work out of Scriv at a certain point and put it into another program to format for publishing.

Anyway, I recommend doing a little playing around in Scrivener until you have a certain comfort level instead of doing that playing around with an important big project you care about.

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kewms
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Mon May 20, 2019 8:32 pm Post

mjw wrote:Perhaps this is my own personal quibble I need to sort out, but I was concerned about being daunted in having to rearrange a long extending list of documents and keeping track of all of them like that.


That's what the metadata is for. You don't have a long list of "document 1," "document 2," and so on, you have a list of "the scene in the forest," "the body is found," "monday morning," and so on. You have keywords to identify the characters and settings for each scene. You have synopses.

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Tue May 21, 2019 6:57 am Post

It is also worth mentoning that you do not have to choose between a single big doc and a zillion tiny docs -- there are a zillion options between those two!

Many Scrivener users have made testimony on this forum about what a breakthrough it was for them to take their longstanding novel project and breaking it into its logical parts so that they could "see" their work in the Binder and have easy access to any part of it. Suddenly, the thing they had been struggling with and had come to seem like a monster was accessible to them -- seemed suddenly manageable. My wife is one of those people.

Maybe you will have a similarly happy experience. It really is what Scrivener was built for -- to break you out of having to deal with your big project as though it was one super long unbroken block of text with no structure.
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mj
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Tue May 21, 2019 11:23 pm Post

kewms wrote:
mjw wrote:Perhaps this is my own personal quibble I need to sort out, but I was concerned about being daunted in having to rearrange a long extending list of documents and keeping track of all of them like that.


That's what the metadata is for. You don't have a long list of "document 1," "document 2," and so on, you have a list of "the scene in the forest," "the body is found," "monday morning," and so on. You have keywords to identify the characters and settings for each scene. You have synopses.

Katherine


Ah, so am I able to export it based on a collection with the keywords and leave the inherent structure disorganized or would I have to eventually put it in order anyways?

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kewms
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Wed May 22, 2019 2:18 am Post

Either. You can either export (as individual files) or compile (into a single document) any selection of files from the Binder in any order.

Now, if your ultimate goal is to produce a single publishable manuscript containing all 400,000 words, your task will be easier if the order in the Binder reflects the order you'd like to see in the finished document. But on your way to that point it's very easy to, for example, produce two different output documents in order to see what structure works best *without* changing the underlying Binder structure. Or to pull out scenes with a particular character in order to see that character's plot arc. Etc.

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phyrebrat
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Sun May 26, 2019 10:19 pm Post

If I'm understanding this correctly, you have one document like, say, a Word document and it is either a) not in narrative order; or b) in narrative order, and you're worried about splitting it up. Is that the basic problem?

In addition to what's been said above, I'd recommend you do start chopping it up and organising asap because - well - Scrivener exists to make your writing life easier, and I'm sure you'll get far more out of it if you modify your way of working (slightly).

For starters: If your scenes are in different character POVs, I'd label them as such and colour-code them; you can then add those POVs to collections if need be.

If your MS is in chronological/narrative order, you can divide up sections (or chapters if you prefer) into more manageable chunks, label folders as chapters and within them have document 'scenes' (with descriptive names) and/or POVs.

E.G. My WIP is set across 5 distinct historical periods (and one period includes an epistolary side-narrative) but they will be split up within the final novel rather than organised in unbroken periods of time. How I have them organised in Scrivener, however, is in complete order in their own time periods. When I've finished writing the last time period, I can then drag and drop folders and documents into the order I want. To do that as one long document would be nigh-on impossible.

Sorry if I 'm confusing or repeating things that have been said already.

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Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:33 am Post

I have a somewhat similar problem. I have some 200 chapters that cover a variety of settings with elements that I need to put in proper order as I shift things around and change emphasis. After trying various approaches, I decided to use collections, because I need to have the full text of each collection that I can view as one "document" to find if I've kept the development in the right order. Corkboard and outliner views won't do.
However, I find that when I choose to view a particular collection (such as "lab," which includes all chapters that take place in and around or feeding into a hospital lab), they don't show in the same order as they would in the ms. in the binder--in fact they seem fairly random. This won't work for me at all. Is there some way I can goose the collections so that the chapters always fall in the same order as they would in the overall ms?

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Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:08 am Post

Are you using manual or smart collections? The docs in a smart collection (being procedurally determined) always show In Binder-order.

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Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:00 am Post

gr wrote:Are you using manual or smart collections? The docs in a smart collection (being procedurally determined) always show In Binder-order.

gr

Thanks. I'm using manual, didn't note there were smart collections. If I understand this rightly, I'll need to go back and make sure all keywords for each chapter are the same as the collection names I want to use, then do a search on each keyword. Took me three days to set up the collections first go-round. I assume there's no way to convert a standard to a smart collection?

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Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:30 pm Post

You don’t need to redo what you have done. The command you are looking for is Edit > Sort > Collection into Binder Order.

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Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:59 pm Post

The reason you (mjw) were asked if you'd done the tutorial is that you seem to be abstaining from one of the primary reasons that people adopt Scrivener for long-form writing and structural revision. This baffles those of us who hated trying to do things with one long document (as with most word processors), so the advice here is almost always going to be "split up your work into smaller documents". Note that you don't have to split it up, but if you don't, you're missing out on a number of features that make Scrivener so powerful a tool for writing long form.

Here are a number of things that splitting your manuscript into individual chapter documents buys you:
  1. You can stop numbering your chapters manually, instead letting Scrivener do that during the compile step. This helps you if you might split a chapter up, or if you add or remove chapters, since you don't have to do the tedious task of re-numbering all the remaining chapters.
  2. By not naming your binder items "Chapter 1" and so-forth, that frees up those titles for something more descriptive (which doesn't have to end up in your final manuscript; these titles can be just for your benefit): Arthur meets Merlin; The Lady of the Lake; Lancelot + Guinevere; The Round Table...
  3. The outline view lets you see synopses that you create for each chapter/scene. This lets you get a bird's eye view of each document and what (in brief) happens therein. "Lancelot falls in love with Guinevere, but she rebuffs him despite her attraction" ; "Some knights struggle with the concept of the round table, rejecting the idea of anyone having equal say with the king"...
  4. "Scrivenings mode" lets you string together multiple documents in one editor, so you can read it continuously. You can even split the editor into two, with an outline showing titles + synopses, and the other editor loading whichever chapter you click on, so you can easily jump from one to the other without scrolling for hundreds of thousands of words.
  5. As you revise a chapter, you can mark its status as "Major restructuring", "Character voice revisions", "continuity checking", "final polish", "done", viewing those statuses in the outliner (or as stamps on the cork board), so you can view your progress and tell where you left off.
  6. Keywords, applied to each chapter, let you list all of the people who appear in that scene, significant objects that appear (or are discussed) therein (Excalibur, for instance). You can then search on keywords and show only those chapters that are tagged with it, which may reveal that you forgot about something that seemed important until about 1/2 way through the book, but which you accidentally dropped. Or maybe it tells you that you need to remove all references to that object (or that person) during revision.
  7. Document notes are a good place to plan what needs to change in this chapter specifically, versus the larger-scale changes. Or maybe it's just a more-indepth version of the synopsis, including sub-plot info.
  8. Custom meta-data is a great way to track sub-plot progression. One column per sub-plot lets you see (in outline view) which chapters advance that sub-plot, how many chapters it takes to pick up that sub-plot, or where it comes to its own conclusion within the main plot (which is tracked using the main synopsis field).

You get none of these potential benefits if you keep everything in one huge document. Thus, why we Scrivener aficionados keep suggesting that splitting up a long manuscript into at least one document per chapter. It's just the best (but not the ONLY) way to take advantage of Scrivener; if you want to go your own way, you'll just have to figure out how to bend Scrivener to your methods--few enough other people keep 600k words in one document that you won't find many here who can help you.
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Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:14 pm Post

Question: ”How do I keep track of my chapters if I have to break them down in dozens of documents?”

The simple answer that no one seems to have given is - you make your chapters into folders, which can have the name you want the chapters to have, and can split the content within your chapters into chunks with names that describe e.g the plot, which don’t print when you compile the output.
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Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:23 pm Post

gr wrote:You don’t need to redo what you have done. The command you are looking for is Edit > Sort > Collection into Binder Order.

gr

Maybe it's because I'm using version 2.9 (haven't updated my Mac OS), but this command doesn't seem to be available.