Viewing Threads in Scrivener

Recently, I was in a discussion concerning editing parts of a novel where multiple scenes have close ties and would be easier to review if together. Perhaps this has been addressed elsewhere before, I don’t know. I do know that in Scrivener it’s amazingly easy to do, especially if each scene is a separate file.

Cover: CA Hawthorne ©October 2018
NaNo Cover: CA Hawthorne

Before I explain, and because there may be non Scrivener users reading this, I’m going to explain the content of the screenshots used here and why I do what I do.

Please note that Scrivener is visually versatile and can look different from one user to another. Too, I’m being careful about what I show. I’m currently editing the fourth in a series and am trying to avoid spoilers.

Okay, let’s start with a tour of Example1 from left to right…

Example1. Image: CA Hawthorne
Example1. Image: CA Hawthorne

On the far left is the Binder (you can hide it). Think of it as a list of files or an index. In my case, because of the ease of moving files around, I now draft in scenes instead of chapters. Thus, what you see on the left are scenes from So Others Might Remember.

Want to view a scene? Click on it. Want to move it and change the order? Drag it. Yeah, it’s that simple.

I’m visual and have sensitive eyes, thus I use the Solar Dark theme that’s responsible for the bluish background. The colored circles? I have multiple POV in this novel and each color represents a character. For me, finding a character’s scenes via color is easiest. In this case, note that seven of the red files (scenes) are selected.

Moving right…

The large area is the editor, which I have split. It’s set at about a 40-60 split because I slid the divide over. The story I’m editing is on the far right. The narrower portion on the left is the revision map I’m making as I go along. There are many other view options available, many of which I use, but they aren’t relevant to this post. I will note that jumping between sides of the split or changing the files displayed on either side is as simple as a click.

Okay, selecting a thread….

It’s as simple as (on a Mac) holding down the Control key and clicking on the scenes (files) you want to view. Once you click on more than one Scrivener stitches them together, leaving out those between. Where one ends and the next begins there’s a dashed line (visible on the right in Example1).

A fringe benefit is that the total number of words in the selected scenes is displayed at the bottom. In this case, at the time, it was 10,909. Also, at the top of that portion of the editor it tells me which scene I’m currently looking at. In this case, it’s elusive Demon Greeze.

The scenes in Example1 spotlight early scenes for one character, simple as that. In Example2 I’ve switched characters (turquoise circles), the twelve scenes selected requiring less than fifteen seconds to assemble.

Example2. Image: CA Hawthorne
Example2. Image: CA Hawthorne

I actually used this selection, which amounts to 20,356 words (bottom right). In the book, a character spends time in the hamlet of Slu’ayr, making that portion of the novel a story within a story (my mind is always dividing my novels into segments that are their own short stories).

Sometimes I stitch scenes together for editing, but most often for checking continuity. It’s nice to be able to read through all of a character’s scenes without stopping, for instance. If you do write in chapters you can still do this as long as each chapter is broken into scenes. You could also select entire chapters if it suited your purposes.

In a way this showcases several fantastic features: the binder, split screen, and ability to combine files for viewing. A great feature you can’t see is that every time I pause in my typing Scrivener automatically saves.

No doubt I’ve over-explained, but I wanted you to understand what I’ve done to make this process easier. This is different than my approach before I started using Scrivener and has increased my drafting and editing speed considerably. Not only that, it’s changed how I view my stories (like segmenting). It isn’t that Scrivener forces me to change, but that it indulges my preferences, allowing me to create the writing experience I want to have.

One Reply to “Viewing Threads in Scrivener”

  1. Pingback: Viewing Threads in Scrivener | Christina Anne Hawthorne

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