Learning to Outline the Scrivener Way
Like the Corkboard, the Outliner is another feature that plotters will enjoy working with. The functions are similar to the Corkboard, but instead of working with index cards you have columns for your data.
Let’s take a look at the basic parts of the Outliner. Once again, the footer is nearly identical to the Corkboard with the exception that on the extreme right you have the option to either hide or unhide the scene synopses. To start using the Outliner, select the container you want to work with. If you want to work on the entire draft of your novel, select Draft. To open the Outliner either go to View->Outline or select the Ouline icon in the View Mode that in the Toolbar. To view the contents of each of my containers/folders, I click on the expansion arrow to open it and click on it again to close it.
For this lesson, I selected Part One of another WIP. A Pig Named Moe. This is how my outliner looks:
Once you’re in the Outliner, you’ll see one column with the header, Title and Synopses. As in the Corkboard, the summaries seen in the Outliner are the same ones that are reflected in the Synopsis in the Inspector. I can reorder these chapters/scenes and you’ll see that change reflected in the binder. If I click on the Title and Synopsis bar, my chapter headings become alphabetized, but there’s no change in the binder. Click on it again and they are in reverse alphabetical order. One last click, it’s back to the correct chapter/scene order.
To add more columns, you’ll want to go to the extreme right and click on the double arrow. A drop down menu will open and you’ll have a choice of fields to add/remove to and from the Outliner.
Take a look at the column options offered. They range from the Title of chapter or scene to Total Progress. You’ll note that some of these columns might be helpful and others not so much. But here’s the cool part of the Outliner you can configure your meta-data settings to include other column options like location, date, point-of-view and goal, motivation, and conflict. (The new Windows beta version now has the meta-data feature, but the current official version doesn’t. I’ve played with the beta and I didn’t come across any bugs).
So let’s customize the outliner by adding the meta-data. Go to the menubar, select Project->Meta-Data Settings. A box will open and you’ll see it has Project Properties, Label (which relates to the General Information seen in the Inspector and Custom Meta-Data.
Let’s play around with Label and Status first. Because I like to make my work as visual and colorful as possible, I’ve color-coded my MC’s point-of-view but I’ve kept the generic title of label. I’ll change it to POV and that’s now shown in the General section of the Inspector. I’m keeping “Status” as is, but you’’ll notice that I can add my own statuses whether the chapter/scene needs fine-tuning, which revision I’m on, whether I need to research more etc.
Here comes the fun part…in Custom Meta-Data you can add more specifics that you might want to include in the outliner. You’ll see below that I added the date, the location and the character’s internal GMC for that specific chapter. Because I want my outliner to be compact, I clicked wrap text. I also have the choice of making the text a different color.
Now that I’ve added these extra fields. I can select them from the list and double click the empty space beneath the column’s header and type in my information.
Or I can go to the Inspector, click on the icon at the footer of the Inspector that looks like a luggage tag and I’ll see my Custom Meta-Data. Here I can type in my dates, location, my GMC and each column will be automatically filled with the pertinent data.
A few things to note: You’ll see that in POV and Status I have two up and down arrows. When I click on them, I can change the POV or select a different status. My word count is noted by orange numbers, meaning that I haven’t reached my word count for that chapter/scene.
Is the Outliner as flexible as the Corkboard? Definitely! You can move columns and rows around by selecting the cell and dropping it wherever you like, and manually make them narrower or wider by placing your cursor on the divider line. A double arrow will appear; click and drag to size. Or let Scrivener do the work and just double-click the bar to the right of the column title. If you want to add color to your rows, simply go View->Use Label (or POV or whatever you renamed it) Color in Outliner Rows.
Finally if you want to print the Outliner, follow these steps:
1. File->Page Setup.
2. Go to Settings and click on the arrows, select Scrivener.
3. A new window will open with margin settings click on Options.
4. Another window will open with a menu of what can be printed. Select Outline. Check off all the options that you want to include in the print out.
5. After you’ve made your selections.Click OK to close the the Print Options window.
6. Click OK to close the Page Setup window.
7. Select from the Binder the files or container (folder) for which you want to print the outline.
8. Choose File->Print Current Document
9. Make sure you have the right settings and printer. Click Print.
Window users, to print go to:
1. File->Page Set Up. Select Letter. Hit Okay
2. Print Preview
3. Print Current Document
If you want to export the Outliner into a spreadsheet program like Excel (this is for both Mac and Window users). Follow these steps:
1. File->Export->Outliner Contents as CSV
2. Enter File name in Save As and where you want it to be saved.
3. In the Format drop down menu choose the desired format. I keep it as CSV, which is the standard option recognized by most spreadsheet programs.
4. From the Text-Encoding drop-down list, select the encoding type. Unicode (UTF-8) is the default and the standard.
5. Make sure the Only Include Columns Visible to Outliner box is checked off
6. Hit Export.