The Inspector: Synopsis

Happy New Year! I’ve been away too long and I’m anxious to return to writing the tutorials. A couple of things to note: I know I promised a tutorial on the Editor, but on further contemplation, it makes sense to leave that for the latter part of next week (I am shooting for a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. I know it’s a lot of writing, but that’s how I spend my days…).

Today’s tutorial will focus on the Synopsis section of the Inspector, but before I go into detail, let me gush a bit about the Inspector. It is one of my favorite Scrivener features. I love that I have that index card to summarize the scene or chapter (and we’ll get more into that when I show you the nifty corkboard). Another neat section is the General Meta-Data that lets you label your scenes/chapters and give them a status. And then there’s the Document Notes section where you can write notes as reminders for that document or for the overall project.

There’s a lot to cover, but for today let’s take a look at the Synopsis, and let’s start with naming a text file, which you can do three ways:

1. In the binder, double-click on the text icon and type in the title of that scene/chapter.

2. Type in the title in the Editor’s Header Bar

3. Type the title directly on the Synopsis/index card in the Inspector

You’ll notice that I have named my first scene: Cyprian is Invited to a Dig. You see that it appears in the Binder, in the Editor’s Header Bar, and in the Synopsis, which is the top pane of the Inspector and looks like an index card.(Remember to click on the images for a larger view).

Synopsis Title

Synopsis Title

Now, this is where the writing process makes an appearance. Am I plotter or a pantser? I’m a bit of both—a plottser. Because I have a vague idea of what this scene and the following two are about, I’ll just write directly in the text area of the Synopsis a blurb for each scene. You’ll see that in the binder, my blank text files have automatically been turned into index cards.

Synopsis with Blurb

Synopsis with Blurb

The Synopsis also allows you to add an image. To do that, just click on the arrow next to the index card icon and you’ll see another icon for an image. If you don’t want an image, toggle it back to text.

Toggle to add Image

Toggle to add Image

I want to put a face to Cyprian so I imported a photo of the actress Katherine Ross into my Character Gallery (created before the holiday in the previous tutorial) which is found in my research folder and then with the image option toggled in the Synopsis, I drag the photo from the research file onto the black area. If I decide that I don’t want Cyprian to look like Katherine Ross, but more like a young Katherine Hepburn, I can delete the image by clicking Clear Picture (the x in the box) that’s next to the image icon to the far right.

With Image

With Image

When the index card icon is toggled back, the Auto-Generate Synopsis button appears. This feature auto-fills the Synopsis with the first few lines of what you’ve written in the Editor. Click on the button and it overrides the blurbs you previously wrote in the Synopsis. Note that when you write in the Editor the index card icon in the binder changes to a lined text icon.

Using Auto-Generate text

Using Auto-Generate text

When you begin to play around with the Synopsis, keep in mind that you can make this section whatever suits your style. I use blurbs as kick off point to start writing the chapter, but you might want to make it a notecard for G-M-C (Goal, Motivation, and Conflict) or perhaps use it as a timeline. Remember, you can customize this to suit your writing process whether you’re a plotter, pantser, or plottser.

Next time: General Meta-Data


  7 comments for “The Inspector: Synopsis

  1. AM Gray
    January 4, 2014 at 1:41 am

    also… if you select any text in the Editor page and then click the auto-generate button – it will copy *that* text to put on the index card.
    Sometimes the first sentence is not enough for me to recognise the scene or isn’t appropriate as a description for it.

  2. January 4, 2014 at 8:19 am

    AM Gray Great tip! Thanks for sharing!

  3. RickCT
    December 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Nice summary – thanks. One question.  Is there a way to increase the default number of visible lines in the synopsis card?   I have a few entries that are 15  – or 20 lines.  Rather than have to use the scroll bar, is there someway to lengthen the card?

  4. December 30, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    RickCT  Thanks for stopping by and reading. Good question. I looked to see if there was an option in Preference that I missed, but, unfortunately, no. What you might want to consider is to move that long text to Document Notes which gives you more space but also give you the option to resize the typeface.

  5. March 5, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    Do you know how one can create a synopsis template? So that every index card has a pre-defined structure, laid out like a table of information?

  6. March 5, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    quintopia The only way I think you can do that is to create it in a text file and then auto-generate it and copy and paste in each synopsis, but you would have to write in the information.

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