Tobias Buckell’s recent post on chapters was not only interesting in its own right. It also brought me to Scott Westerfeld’s valuable post on pace charts. Even more cool, though was a tidbit in a comment on that post, with details on a cool feature of Scrivener: You can show stamps on the note cards!
Scott’s example involved marking the note cards to indicate what sort of tension was driving each scene. With that information he could see if there were long stretches without an action scene (or if his action scenes started falling too much into a simple rhythm). That gave him useful information for adjusting the pacing—keeping things moving, mixing things up, etc.
I’m going to be using this all the time now. For example, the story I workshopped last month is both a heist story and a love story. This feature gives me a way to mark the scenes so that I can see which aspect of the story is being advanced and then view that aspect of all the scenes:
I was completely unaware of this feature, even though I use Scrivener all the time, so I thought I’d spell out how to do it.
- Make sure that the “Inspector” is being displayed.
- In the Inspector under “General” find the “Status” pop-up menu and select “Edit.”
- Add whatever status items you’ll need.
- Go through your scenes, setting each Status as appropriate.
- In the Menu select “View->Index Cards->Show Stamps.”
It was step 5 that I was completely unaware of. That’s what causes the diagonal overprinting of the status to be shown across the cards.
I can see using this a dozen different ways to illuminate the story structure.