Scrivener: Making Outlines Neater with Synopses

For the novel workshop I’m going to this summer (er, next month, yikes), I need to send people an outline. I had an outline already: a bunch of index cards stuck to my white board, color coded by point of view. Since taking a photo of it probably wouldn’t be helpful, I typed everything into Scrivener. (And forgot to take a photo of my white board before I took them all down.)

Back in March, I wrote up a post about the various sorts of notes in Scrivener and how I use them. When I started thinking about turning my Scrivener file into an outline other people could read, but that I could also use as I write the novel, I realized I have to make some changes to my usual workflow.

The problem was that when I compiled the file (turned the Scrivener file into a Word document), I’d get something that looked really messy. I really don’t need to share the stuff under “Notes” with people because it’s all notes that I’m using to write (or revise) the book. Stuff like “delete Susan?” or “make T angrier here”. And the synopsis fields were all blank, so someone reading this can’t follow the plot anyway. Plus I’m already running into my usual problem, that the Notes field has both my to-dos for the scene, and things like “the moon is 1/4 full” and “3 days later”.

Since I was using the synopsis at work, I’d gotten to like how easy it is to view in outline mode, and how the synopsis finder toolbar button makes it easy to…find things that are in synopses.

So (obviously) I’m adding summaries of each scene into the synopsis field. I’m also adding my to-dos there, prefaced with an exclamation mark. The exclamation mark means I can easily use the synopsis finder to find scenes that I need to do something to.

And I can keep using document notes for messy stuff I don’t want the people at the workshop to see. (In theory, everything with an exclamation mark in front should be taken care of before I send them the outline…)

Much nicer.

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