Update 10/25/13: If you would like a blank Scrivener file with all this structure stuff already in it, drop me an email address to abehrhardt [at] gmail. I tried really hard to upload it – but WordPress won’t let me, and Dropbox won’t let me make a file public. I have it all ready and will just attach it to a reply email. No obligation whatsoever. Use or modify to suit yourself.
This is the final Scene Template post, and I will discuss where I currently store all the template’s structure bits in my Scrivener file. Scrivener is incredibly versatile – there are places to store anything you can think of. If you’re not a writer using Scrivener who is a plotter, it will all be gobbledegook – with screenshots – and I recommend you skip the whole thing.
If, like me, your current system is getting overwhelming, jump right in. I wish I’d been able to get a copy of someone else’s complete system BEFORE I made the transition, so I wouldn’t have to re-invent the wheel.
There are advantages to having the template on a single page and filling it in as a single file, but, for me, that entailed either burying the structure in the same file as the text (using Word’s Hidden text feature) – or maintaining a second, parallel set of files, and updating that simultaneously. Needless to say, the ‘simultaneous’ part of the updating was often out of date.
And for ebook publishing (my eventual aim), having a Word file laden with buried hidden text would have ended up a complete disaster.
I made the transition from Word 2004 on my Macbook 1,1 because it was becoming increasingly impossible to keep track of everything. For a writer with brain fog issues, it became a quagmire. The main advantage of having all my files in Scrivener – beyond having almost infinite storage space – is that in digital form everything is searchable. I don’t lose things. If my brain remembers that the piece I’m looking for somewhere has the phrase ‘tiny redwoods’ in it ANYWHERE, I can find it. My brain remembers ‘what,’ but not ‘where.’
And that, when I’m writing or revising, everything is right there on the same screen, rather than having me dig through printouts of text and structure. My elaborate paper system is rarely consulted. I’m not going back.
Scrivener files for each chapter:
Scrivener makes it easy to put the text for a scene in a file, and the associated bits and pieces nearby. It provides several default adjunct files with different looks and formatting options to them that are connected by the Inspector pane (right sidebar) directly to the file.
You can also create as many other files as you like for a project. The Binder (on the left side) keeps your scene, chapter, and other files in a scrollable easy-access list.
Scrivener separates files roughly into the files whose text will make it into the final manuscript – and those that will not. The former are at the top of the Binder list, in the most logical structure for a manuscript’s text.
I use the following structure for each chapter:
For each of these file types – and many others such as character files – I have created templates (stored in the Scrivener Templates section toward the bottom of the Binder) which supply Chapter, Chapter Header, and Scene files with a structure for all the adjunct files. Saves a lot of cutting and pasting! After creating a new Scene, for example, from the template, all I have to do is fill in the blanks.
The adjunct files you can customize – and which I use to store my template components are (all examples are from Chapter 5):
Chapter, Chapter header, and Scene synopsis cards:
Scrivener provides a synopsis card for each file in the list. I use the Chapter synopsis card for a short paragraph description of each scene. That way, when viewing the Chapters in Corkboard mode, each chapter has a card with a paragraph for each scene in the chapter. It makes doing a synopsis easy.
The Chapter Header file is where I store details about the chapter as a whole, such as the title, the epigraphs at the beginning of the chapter, the chapter end, a list of unanswered questions, and the hook to the next chapter. In the original template, these bits were at the beginning and end of the chapter template. The Chapter Header synopsis card has a brief version of these items.
The Scene file contains the text for each scene; its synopsis card has the basic scene template:
This is where I keep track of the pov character for each scene, and its revision status. It takes a bit of finagling, until you realize that you can put anything you want into your categories. So I use the first pop-up menu to cover two different items: a Label for the Chapter and Chapter header files, and the POV for the Scene files. Each file will have only one menu entry associated with it, and the pov character selection makes things very easy to see in the Outline mode.
While I was at it, each major character got a color, and each minor character associated with a major character got a shade within the color range. Useful to see which scenes various characters appear in. In addition, the list of scenes provides a quick way to determine if I’m doing the alternation I want between characters point of view: too many Kary scenes in a row – what was Bianca doing that I need to put a scene in for.
I store two things in this adjunct file.
I use the keywords to keep track of the major and minor characters. The Keywords pane – which can be given its own column in Scrivener’s Outline mode – is where I list each one of these characters, except for the pov character, which is on the General pane.
Custom Meta-data pane:
This is one of my favorite panes. I keep two groups of details here:
The critical information about settings and timeline is on top, with a space to keep the spearcarriers (characters who appear in more than one scene) and walk-ons (characters who appear in only one scene).
Structural plot twists: The main Dramatica plot structure report entries go into the slot labeled PSR. I have added a slot for James Frey’s The Key hero’s journey appreciations, and one to store any appreciations that come from Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat books. It is important to keep those details – which scene is which turning point in which story – stored with the scene and chapter files. The meta-data is easily added to the Scrivener Outline or Corkboard views.
The last entry, Heart, is where I store the most important single point in each scene.
I use Inline annotation, Comments, and Footnotes to keep track of things that need to be added to a scene – or checked to make sure they have been taken care of. As I plot, the pane fills up details – if I stopped to check each one while I’m writing, I’d never get anywhere – but if I don’t mark them somehow, I WILL forget. So I mark them, color-code them, and put an entry into the Notes pane for each item – and then when editing, remove each one by tending to it, until the pane is empty.
At that point I know that everything I intended to do with a scene, but had postponed, is taken care of. These items will all be removed, eventually, from the text. This pane is my check off list for revision.
The beauty of using this pane – plus color-coded Inline annotations – is that I can see at a glance what still needs doing before a scene/chapter is finished.
And that’s everything from my Chapter and Scene templates, loaded into Scrivener, and linked to the posts where the content is described.
If you’d like a copy of my system, please contact me.
If any of this is useful to you, and/or you have pieces you add to what you do to keep track of structure, I would love to hear about it.