Damian: On Writing - Working With Scrivener Part 2: The Inspector panel

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In part one I looked at only two aspects of Scrivener- the "Binder" and the "Editor Window". Before I move on to a more in-depth look at either of those, it's worth taking an overview of some other parts of the user interface. By default, when you create a new Scrivener document, the "Inspector" panel doesn't show up. To bring up the "inspector" (PC version), either use the keystroke (ctrl+shift+i), click the inspector icon (top right of screen, blue circle with white i), or go to "View" in the top pull down menus, then "Inspect", then select one of the options "Notes", "References", "Keywords etc. 

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Once you've selected one of the options associated with the "Inspect" menu item, a new panel will appear on the right hand side of the screen.

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The inspector panel is invaluable and I can't see a reason you'd close it. Sure, you can end up with a slightly cluttered user interface, but if you want clarity, just you and the words, then you'll probably spend a lot of time in full screen mode (F11 on PC - more on that later)

 Inspector Panel

Inspector Panel

At the top of the inspector, the icons (left to right) are: "notes", "References", "Keywords", "Meta-Data", "Snapshots" and "Comments and Footnotes". Beneath these icons, there is a synopsis of the document / scene which you're working on. You can write your own document synopsis, or you can auto generate the synopsis (uses the first few lines of the document you're working in).

 "Auto Generate" Synopsis

"Auto Generate" Synopsis

I am going to skip over the "REFERENCES" and "CUSTOM META-DATA" tabs, because for the purpose of working on a fiction manuscript, I haven't found a use for them myself.

NOTES

The focus of the "Notes" icon can be switched between general Project notes or Document notes. To switch that focus, in the screenshot above, you would click thee little black triangles (up and down arrows, depending on how you look at them) beside the "Document Notes".

In the example above, the scene selected in the binder is titled "West explains leeches", the scene synopsis was not automatically generated, so at some point I typed up a small description of what I intended to happen in that scene and within the document notes for the scene, I'd given myself a reminder to "Remove section with demonstration / cutting arm" 

KEYWORDS

I'll admit it ... I became a little obsesses with keywords.
Keywords can be (if used correctly) your best friend for navigating your own work. They will save you much time and many headaches.

The keyword icon in the inspector and the panel which that icon brings up is only one of the two parts that makeup the functionality of keywords.

Using the same example scene, here's what the keyword panel for that scene looks like:

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Now, it's possible to simply add keywords ad hoc, by clicking the symbol beside "Keywords" but most of the time there is a much more structured way of adding keywords and this is where the second part of the keyword functionality comes in.  At the top of the user interface, you will click the keyword icon:

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Clicking that keyword icon will bring a pop-up window which you can move around your screen:

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With the main keyword floating window, you can (ctrl+select) select multiple keywords and drop them into the keyword panel of the inspector. If you're tagging up keywords for a document that you've already written, keeping everything organised using the floating window is much better than creating keywords on the fly ad hoc, because it's too easy to end up with multiples of the same keyword. I keyword anything that might not be a throwaway reference, anything which might end up being used in more than one scene, anything I'm likely to forget I've used later on. I keyword vehicles, locations, characters, items of clothing, music cues, literary references. 
 

WHY SO MANY KEYWORDS?

Firstly, while I'm writing, having the keywords there for a scene I'm working on gives me a point of reference - if I drop keywords in for names / items I've used, they save me from searching through a scene, because they are present as a concise reminder.

Secondly, the search facility within Scrivener (top right of the user interface) allows you to search an entire project with a focus on keywords - this function means that if your project is well tagged, it only takes a very basic search to focus on one character arc, check every time you've referenced a particular theme, make sure descriptions of locations etc are consistent throughout.

SNAPSHOTS

Snapshots give you the opportunity to work non-destructively on a scene without the need for moving out of Scrivener or copying and pasting your work. Any time I make the decision to go back and edit a scene which I've been unsure about, I've taken a snapshot of that scene. 

In the example below, I've selected a scene which already had some snapshots (this scene went through a couple of revisions) In the video, I'm using keystrokes to copy and paste the text from the snapshot into the editor window (as opposed to magic).

COMMENTS AND FOOTNOTES

This is pretty self explanatory - Highlight a section of text in the editor, then click the + to add a comment, or the "+fn" button to add a foot note. Most of my interaction with the comments function has happened when my wonderful proofreader has passed the Scrivener file back to me with her revision notes.

 

On WritingDamian Huntley