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
Book with Parts and Chapters: Parts folders containing text documents that each serve as a whole chapter
Book with Chapters: Chapter folders containing text documents acting as scenes/sub-sections
Book with Chapters: A bunch of text documents that each serve as a whole chapter
Screenplays/scripts - a bunch of text documents each serving as one or more scenes
Screenplays/scripts - other structure
Essay or document using one of Scrivener's template formats
Other (please describe in a reply)
Total votes: 367
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Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:40 am Post

I have an unusual structure, but I find Scrivener very helpful in compiling it through its use flat list collections. I have folders with different storylines that are told strictly in sequential order. Then, I have two collections. The first one combines all storylines in chronological order. The second collection combines the storylines in storytelling order. You could change up which one is in the binder and which two are the collections to match your preference. Perhaps my preference is to overcomplicate things haha.

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Thu Nov 01, 2018 6:00 pm Post

I'm not very complicated. I wish the standard - chap. 1 chap. 2 If I'm given options I can work that into design somewhat, roman numerals, just the chapter numbers with a word - one, two

The folder for a chapter and the file in it for the actual text (called "scene") gets confusing if I try to work out the logic. Realizing scriptwriters (playwrights?) use this software I guess explains some of the terminology if I work past my arrogance as a novelist (which is asking a lot). When I hit the compile button and get what I'm after it doesn't matter much to me what things are called.

Controlling the text on a single page in terms of font, but also in column width, for instance, to create an introduction, or prologue/epilogue affair is something I begin to leap toward if I can see the possibility to do it. Doing some of these flourishes isn't readily obvious due to some of the naming of the commands, but if I run into a post here of someone trying to do something similar I can usually pull it off.

I've been trained to just type 60-char. wide pages double-spaced because the publisher makes all the print decisions. With the advent of self-publishing, and the possibility of working design into the finished product, but with the caveat the file types (kindle - epub) might generate results differently, a lot of dynamic potential comes into being. I won't pretend to have scratched the surface on this, but if I'm asked "What style" this might be sudden inspirationally driven - it might be arrived upon after much consideration and experimentation. It might be a one-time use for one work.

This sort of versatility is what the future demands. Who can meet this demand? Who is interested? We'll find that out when that future becomes the present, I guess. I do hope it's Scrivener. I really like the program (executable - application - app!)
Nothing so cuts at the root of happiness and fills with rage
as the sense that another rates low what one prizes high.
-Virginia Woolf-

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Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:21 am Post

It depends, and what it depends on is the story and how it's told.

Sometimes I simply start writing, telling a story as it happens. One long 250k word document? I think Scrivener would gag, so those kind of stories are a series of documents, just under the Manuscript or Draft folder. No parts. No chapters. Just text. No separation of docs in the compile phase.

Some stories demand a bunch of different scenes, gathered in major story arcs, so the arcs become chapters, and the scenes stay in documents.

Some demand Major story arcs, and minor story arcs, so those are organized by Parts, Chapters, and Scenes. And, of course, there are novel series.

And if I'm writing nonfiction or essays, things are completely different. I might write an essay as a project, and it might have five documents, one for each phase of the essay, but associated with each document is the research that went into writing it (so if someone asks questions I can provide links to the supporting information).

I structure the project according to the level of complexity required.

So "all of the above" is the right answer.
Just another user.

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Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:52 pm Post

What is the most interesting part of this? I think the conclusion first.

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Wed Jan 01, 2020 6:47 pm Post

ACT (folder)
CHAPTER (folder)
SCENES (text)
Sometimes, I'll add another level and group multiple SCENES inside a folder.
A bit like a SEQUENCE in a SCRIPT.

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Thomas Rabenstein
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Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:44 am Post

I try to keep the structure as "flat" as possible cause I am putting an entire novel series into one project (Currently 70+ single novels). Folders do separate the single novels, documents represent chapters, No scenes required . I'm not changing the viewpoint (scenes) within one chapter.

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Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:50 pm Post

I'm a Parts/Chapters writer. I break the story into four parts based on the three act structure. Act 1 is Part 1. Act 2 is broken at the mid-point, ending Part 2, after which Part 3 begins. Act 3 is my Part 4. I find it much easier to manage this way, no matter the length of the product.

Each Parts folder contains as many Chapter folders as I need. If it's a shorter work, I may use only text folders in each Part folder.

As for compiling, I limit myself to compiling into a Word document for review/edits. However, I noticed in the latest RC 9 that epub v2 is now in use, so I might try that for editing. Once my editing and reviews are done, I compile to text-only, and format that .txt output in Word. I don't use any other Scrivener formatted output.

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Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:26 am Post

Kind of depends for what.

For my "non-writing" life, I use Scrivener to structure both my resume and linkedin Profile. Each document represents a portion of the larger document (or profile page, in the LinkedIN, case.).

While this would not be much harder to do in Word (and I have, previously before I started to use Scrivener), I like the versioning feature for quick comparisons between changes to highlight keywords or other reasons to customize the document.

For example, in the resume document, there is a folder for headline, experience, and education. Each item in there is a text document that can be turned on / off at compile to produce a slightly different and more customized version of the document.

For my "writing" life, I like the folders for parts, (sub-)folders for chapters, and scene text documents. I make heavy use of the notes and cards features to organize the scenes and I use the collections to track plot / subplots through, I do use folders with text documents that are not compiled for organization of character and world information.

I tend to use other software to research though, I don't use Scrivener for that.

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Tue Sep 29, 2020 7:39 pm Post

It depends on the length of what I'm writing.

I'll start off by saying that I used to always write entire chapters as one long document and leave it at that. In fact, I have done this since buying Scrivener in 2013 and only just stopped as of about a month ago. Why?

Because for the first time, what I was writing outgrew my ability to keep the total story in my head.

I was losing track of which chapters certain events happened in. For instance, one of my characters has had a few undiagnosed panic attacks. About 120,000 words into the story, I realized that I needed to refer to those scenes again. But how the hell was I going to find them? I had a vague recollection of where in the story they were, but 120,000 words is a lot to comb through to find a few specific scenes that don't last very long.

I managed to find them by remembering how I'd described them and searching for the phrases. I keyworded those chapters (my first time seriously using keywords!) and went back to writing. A little later, I needed the scenes again, and searched the keywords. Then I realized another problem: the chapters themselves could reach up to 10,000 words each and that's still a lot to comb through to find one scene.

And there were other events I needed to keyword, too, so that I could refer to them later or determine where they were in the timeline or how often they had happened. And keywording a whole chapter just wasn't cutting it due to the amount of words involved. Finally I bit the bullet and spent a few hours splitting up all 120,000 words into specific scenes, naming them all to describe what they contained, and keywording each and every one of them. It has made keeping track of my story vastly easier and I wish I'd done it sooner.

That said, I still write new chapters as one long document. I have to. I can't scene-split as I write, it interrupts the flow of my work and really throws me off. I just throw an asterisk between scene changes and keep going. But now when I'm done a chapter, I go back and split up the scenes into separate documents, tagging with keywords as I go. While this is frustrating when I need to re-read an entire chapter — I'm still getting used to viewing an entire folder's subdocuments at once, because the line and large gap between scrivenings throws me off when reading — it's far more manageable to search than one massive document. For this particular story, the trade-off is worth it.

However, for my shorter stories (under 60,000 words), I still write chapters as one long document, because there's not nearly as many events to keep track of. As long as I can keep it all in my head, I'll leave chapters as single files. My brain just likes that better for the flow of things, both writing and reading.

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Tue Sep 29, 2020 7:44 pm Post

Thomas Rabenstein wrote:I try to keep the structure as "flat" as possible cause I am putting an entire novel series into one project (Currently 70+ single novels).

Good god, that's impressive. I have a series in a single project, too, but it's only six books — and two of them are novellas. I can't imagine A) the dedication it takes to write 70 novels, and B) the amount of organization it takes to keep them all straight. I salute you, sir.