September 13, 2013

Adventures in Scrivener #2

Well, 450 people looked at my first blog about this software, and while less than 2% left comments, I guess there's an interest, so I'll continue giving a few pointers.  Note that I am not an expert in this software by any means, but I can find my way around.  If you want expert advice, I recommend Gwen Hernandez's book, Scrivener For Dummies (although I must say this works better for Mac users, who use  a more advanced version than those who use Windows).  If you're late to the party, check out the first blog I did on this topic.

Today I want to look at the Corkboard mode, which is a series of on-screen index cards that look like this:

Some writers, myself included, like to lay out their books before they start writing, so they have  a defined story (the specifics of which can always be changed) and don't end up having to abandon a project when they realize it isn't going to come together.  This can be done on a poster board with Post-It notes.  I always liked using different color Post-Its to track the plot by each character and also by the happenings in that particular thread (i.e., hero, heroine, general, romance, antagonist/conflict).

This same method can be used in Scrivener.  Simply create a new file (the how-to is in my previous blog) and choose the Corkboard view.  The first text file should already be there.  You might want to add more as you go, or hit Ctrl-N a couple of times to give you more index cards.  Fill them in, and don't worry about what order they're in...because all you have to do is highlight it, then drag and drop until it's in the order you want!  So if you want to record the point in your story where the crisis arises, or the ending, go right ahead!  I often start laying out books while actually writing other projects--because you have to record those ideas as they come--and as things occur to me I add to the Corkboard...just today I opened a file and added an index card that said, "After dinner, [son] develops the same reaction to shellfish as [heroine] described, much to the annoyance of [hero]."  (When drafting, my characters don't yet have names.)

If you want to move scenes or chapters up or down in the Binder rather than in the Corkboard, just highlight the item to be moved and use the combination keystrokes of Ctrl+Up Arrow or Ctrl+Down Arrow to move it up or down, repeating as necessary until it is where you want it.
Now, for a few special features:

Go to the General Metadata section on the right (between the Synopsis and the Project/Document notes).  There you will see sections called Label and Status.  Click on the drop-down menu by Label.  You will see two choices, Concept and Chapter.  There will also be an option to edit (when you click on the plus sign at the bottom, another choice will appear beneath the aforementioned two, waiting for you to name it; you can also click twice on the color to change it (more about that in a few).  Use your creativity here.  Would you rather type scenes than entire chapters?  Create a label called "Scene."  You might also want to use character names or character roles (Hero, Heroine, Antagonist/Villain, etc.) for labels.  If you're writing a mystery you'll probably want a Mystery label.  Be sure to pick a different color for each.

Now, go to the View menu and select the Use Label Color In feature.  Turn this on by checking all four options, and the color you've chosen for each label will show up in the Binder on the left, in the Corkboard mode (both of which can be seen in the photo above), and in the Outline mode (the fourth option, that of Icon, will change the color of the icon on the upper left of each index card, which really doesn't make a huge difference that I can see, but I turn it on anyway.

Back at the General Metadata screen, it's time to set up your Status options.  Click the drop-down menu, and you'll see the defaults:  To Do, First Draft, Revised Draft, Final Draft, and Done.  The Status is the word(s) that show diagonally across the index card (see the photo above) and serve as a quick reference of how complete the chapter is, although if there's something else you'd like to use this for there's no reason why you can't.  I personally added an Incomplete status but kept the existing selections intact.  Like the Label, the Status will show as No Status until you give it one.

You can fool around with options for the Corkboard by going to the View menu and selecting Corkboard options.  For instance, if the Status stamp across each index card annoys you, you can remove it.

A few words about Outline mode.  I don't use this feature much myself, but it is a vertical listing of your story summary from top to bottom (the Corkboard reads across, just like this blog), including the Label and Status you have assigned.  The order of the story can be changed by highlighting and moving to the desired location.

That's it for this session.  I'll be back next week with some final tips.  I won't be online much this weekend, but if you leave questions I'll try to answer them early next week...


PatriciaW said...

Again, I picked up a tip or two. I like the corkboard, although I haven't used it much. I did it initially as a way of capturing the chapters/scenes of my story before I started, with the color highlighting the POV. But I've not really used the Metadata much more than the Status. I like the idea of "Incomplete".

Don't be put off by the lack of comments. Folks just aren't commenting like they used to when blogging was new. A lot people read through readers like Feedly (I do) which means you have to leave Feedly to comment, which is a pain in the butt.