A nice trick for the Scrivener Binder

I use scrivener exclusively for the creation of my novels, and cannot speak highly enough of this program. The longer I work with it, the more I want to customise little things to work in a way that suits me. Generally that is a simple matter of a quick internet search, and adjusting the right option. Occasionally, something niggles. This week I found an interesting workaround to a problem that has been bugging me for a while:

How to show which scenes are completed in the binder visually, while retaining a POV indicator.

This is to help me keep track of what scenes are written and which ones still need to be done. I don’t work in a linear fashion – typically I can jump forward in the book as I follow one character, and then come back to another and play catch-up / leapfrog. And occasionally I just want to write “that scene” – you know the one that is half way through the act you haven’t even started yet. All good and well but it makes it a bit tricky to see what’s done / not done. I know you can use the corkboard for this with the status indicator – but what I really wanted was something visual in the binder.

Some background:

  • I use the labels option for flagging each scene with a different POV character. (in the picture below Blue, Red, Green are different colours)
  • I have the option turned on in the binder to show these colours.
  • To visually differentiate completed versus incomplete work, I had been resorting to using the tick that comes in windings font the capital “J”.
  • (I end the scene with a word count when I have finished – not really relevant for this post, but just in case you are wondering what the numbers mean)

This leaves me with a binder that typically looks like this:

Scrivener 1

You can see the ticks show what is done and what still has to be done. It’s nice and visual, and when the folders are expanded you can see what is inside, but when they are compressed you can see easily which ones have unfinished scenes even when they are not expanded.

Looking at the picture you can see that the chapter “A fight in the Forest” has no incomplete scenes (tick), “To the cabin” is not yet complete (no tick). Likewise with “Wakai” expanded you can see exactly which scenes need work. Its a simple thing, but in a 200k novel its easy to forget a scene along the way.

Copying the ticks seemed a bit like working with DOS in 2014, so I have been trying to come up with a better way of doing this. My criteria – keep the colour coding, be visual, be efficient in changing status.

What I hit on was using the option of adding icons. (Right click on the binder, change icons, manage icons). Unfortunately if you do this, you lose the colours that were assigned to each line. That was pretty key to me.

The solution: download a tick icon you like, and then save it to your hard drive. Use paint to recolour it in different colours. Now you can add an icon Done-Green, Done-Red, etc.

Warning: don’t do this at home if you have hundreds of POV’s – I normally only have a cast of five or six POV’s so its a ten minute job to put this together.

By right-clicking an item in the folder and choosing the coloured icon, I can keep a nice visual view of the POV and status. Here’s how it looks as you work:

Scrivener 2

and the finished product:

Scrivener 3

Just out of interest – if you are happy to work with the five or six standard flag colours, this is marginally quicker to use. The limitation is that when you select the flag you only can use the colours that come as a default – that may be okay for you, but if you link colours as I do (use dark blue for the elder brother, light blue for the younger brother) then the flags limit the flexibility. And to be honest I like seeing the tick – I guess if you wanted to you could use another icon for first draft etc.

Hope that the idea of recolouring the same icon gives you some ideas for you own way of working. If you think that there was a better way of doing this, I would really like to hear it.

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