One of my wife’s posts was about her (southern) ancestry. You’ll see it below.
But Facebook instantly said it is in violation of their standards. Exactly what they object to, however, is not explained.
After clicking the “Continue”, she checked a box to ask for a review. But in their reply to that (below), FB said they “may not be able to follow up.”
Not only is this censorship, it is automated, and without recourse.
In some Hollywood movies, computers take over. In “I, Robot” they do so in accordance with the “Three Laws” in order to keep humanity safe from itself. In “Colossus – the Forbin Project” the goal becomes more self-serving: humans attempt to regain control and, to prevent it, the computer nukes one Russian city and threatens another in Texas.
In airplanes and an increasing number of cars, computers have the ability to control the vehicle. It can apply the brakes, speed up, turn left and right, and in the case of a commercial airliner, ascend and descend, even land the plane in zero visibility.
But in every one of those vehicles, there is a pilot or a driver–a human being–who is charged with the ultimate responsibility such that, when the computer is confronted with an ambiguous or unusual situation, the human operator has the ability as well as the responsibility to take control.
Computers are tools. They are very fast, very exact, and very complex. But even if their ability to compute increases a million-fold, they are still just computers. They are not thinking, and they have no real understanding of life or death. Instead, it’s just a number, “1” or “0.”
Giving a computer the ability to override human judgement is wrong. And to do so without recourse is extremely alarming. In this instance, Facebook has over-zealously censored an otherwise innocuous post.
“It’s only words,” you might object.
The US Constitution and the now-contested “Section 230” deal with this specific issue. Lest they slip one past you, pay attention. Censorship is a very real problem.
You’ve heard the expression, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse?” But if you’ve never heard the law, and those laws are withheld from you, then you truly are screwed.
Beware Facebook. Big brother is not only watching, he’s also editing what you try to say.
They polluted the air with toxic gas, devoured simple minerals and bound them up in complicated molecules that, after eons, rotted into vile tar and oil.
Oxygen, petroleum, waste from them permanently changed our planet.
It used to be such a beautiful place. Hot—not quite enough to boil water, but close—covered with oceans, blanketed in a warming shroud of carbon dioxide, with a few volcanoes fuming up through the water. It was Heaven-on-Earth for the billions, trillions, quadrillions of generations of bacteria that flourished, fissioned, and spread through the waters.
Then came sexual reproduction. Nobody knows who started it but the algae—disgusting little fornicators—set the pattern. Fuck this, fuck that, fuck everything is sight. Spew your DNA, churn and stir with every neighbor. Oh sure, most of it won’t survive a single mitosis, but those that do… My God, the aberrations, the freaks, the poor cripples it spawned.
What a horror that started!
With the coming of plants and trees, the Earth was transformed from a steamy hot-pot into an oxygen-polluted wasteland. Uncountable species that’d lasted millennia spread across the rising land that fractured, drifted across the planet, disappeared, reemerged, and repeated the pattern, the evolution, uncountable times over.
Ghastly creatures appeared in the waters, and like gasoline to fire, they devoured the chemically-volatile oxygen and produced even more complex cellular structures. Flagella, function-specific cells, organs, tentacles, mouths, eyes…
I suppose one of them poked some erect appendage up into the air and felt the titillating caress of oxygen.
“Hey, Mike,” some jelly-filled, skin-bag probably blubbered to its neighbor, “stick your flagellum up here, out of the water, and whip it around some. Makes you want to spew, doesn’t it?”
And so the evolution continued. The Earth changed the life, and the life changed the Earth. It’s simbiosis on a global scale. Earth, life, ever changing, ever adapting.
I suppose I’m a lot like Professior Falken in the movie War Games.
“Now, children, come on over here. I’m going to tell you a bedtime story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Once upon a time, there lived a magnificent race of animals that dominated the world through age after age. They ran, they swam, and they fought and they flew, until suddenly, quite recently, they disappeared. Nature just gave up and started again. We weren’t even apes then. We were just these smart little rodents hiding in the rocks. And when we go, nature will start again. With the bees, probably.”
We were made by the Earth, for the environment as it existed at that point.
I’m a “guided creationist” if you must know. I see God’s hand in the evolution of life, in its incredible diversity and sophistication. But I’m not so naive as to believe we are “God’s image.” There’ve been too many Hitlers, too many madmen. We’re just the next step, maybe the next mis-step.
Evolution—Nature as Professor Falken called it, or God as others might—isn’t done.
The Earth is still changing, and will continue to do so. If we measure the planet’s lifetime, scientists say the Earth as a life-sustaining platform has another seven billion years to go.
Of course, we’ll be long gone by then.
“Moved on to greener pastures,” a former neighbor might say. “Alpha Centauri, someone said. After that, who knows?”
Does global warming concern me?
Yes, of course. I pay the electric bill, I run the air conditioner in the car, and I sweat gallons when mowing the lawn early Thursday morning in the summer so the cuttings can be carted away in Friday’s early trash pick-up.
I suppose I could help more: use an electric mower instead of gas at the expense of some uranium atoms out at the Palo Verde nuclear plant instead of burning those ancient, dead trees pumped up from beneath Saudi Arabia, or Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, or that stinky little corner of Los Angeles.
Eventually, I’ll stop exhaling that awful carbon dioxide, too. I’m sure the upper atmosphere will sigh in relief at my demise.
There’s a forest near Flagstaff where you can have your ashes spread amongst the trees, literally returning to the roots. I like that idea.
But until then, I’m a messy, squirmy, leaky creature. I suck up nutrients and squirt out what my body doesn’t want.
Chocolate in, poop out, flip the handle and away it goes.
“Here you go, little fishies, plants, and bacteria. See what you can make of this.”
Robert Carlson created a summary chart of thirteen (13) story structure overviews. Here’s his diagram (saved from a comment at reddit).
Across the top, note the Act I, Act II (parts A and B), and Act III divisions. Squinting at the chart so the details blur, I can spot four structures with those same three parts. Act I is Syd Field’s “Set-Up” which George Lucas calls “Introduce the Characters.” Billy Wilder gives it the figurative title of “Put a character up in a tree,” while Alfred Hitchcock plays summarize that as simply the “Proposition.”
My favorite, the Seven Point system, isn’t included by name, but it is almost the same as that from Nigel Watts, the third contributor in the left-most column. Nigel divides the “Resolution” in the Seven Point system into two parts, “Reversal” and “Resolution” whereas the Seven Point system calls it merely, “Resolution.” I agree that Act III does need to be divided but “Reversal” is, in my opinion, the wrong word. I would’ve preferred something like “Preparation” to suggest the protagonist is getting ready to make his final assault on the bad guy.
And none of these structures include what I now think of as the eighth point in the Seven Point system. It comes first, often in the first page, first paragraph, and sometimes the first sentence of a novel. It is a Trigger Event that precipitates everything that follows. Rather than a somewhat leisurely exploration of the “Ordinary World” of the protagonist, many recent works–books and, in particular, movies–start with a bang! Some event, perhaps a grisly murder, a crafty theft, or the arrival of an unknown craft from deep space, transforms the setting. We may see the remnants of what was that “Ordinary World,” but we recognize the future will be different.
Regardless, for students and practitioners of the craft of story-making, this summary chart is a marvelous creation. I tip my hat to Robert Carlson where ever he may be in the universe.
Plotters plan a story’s major events, then they write using that guide. (Pantsers, on the other hand, simply jump right in to the writing and “see where it goes.”)
I’ve mentioned the Seven Point System in other posts. For additional details, use the Search box (at https://www.flat5.net/) to find all the links.
The screen capture above is from a story-design tool called Plottr. It provides a nice visual representation of a story’s structure. In the above screen capture, the top row of boxes are the “points” in the Seven Point System: Hook, Plot Turn 1, Pinch 1, and so forth. And in the second row, I’ve sketched their contents into the “Main Plot” line. (“MC POV” means “Main Character’s Point of View.” In the “Narrator POV” scenes, those will be told by an outsider observing the action.)
At this point, I haven’t decided on anyone’s name so “X” is the main character, “Y” is the object of his lust, and “Z” is his wife.
When I’m rsatisfied with the design, Plottr will “export” a Scrivener project. Here’s the result.
In Scrivener’s Outline View (click the fifth icon from the right in the top row), this is what you get.
In the Binder (left-most column), I’ve expanded the “Manuscript” to show each of the Chapters (Hook, Plot Turn 1, Pinch 1, etc.) and, in each, the scene is from the Main Plot line from Plottr.
For this story, my gut feel is it will be short, a few thousand words at most. Definitely not a novel (typically 70,000 or more words). By convention, short stories usually don’t have chapters. Instead, they have one or more scenes, but that’s the only division. (These sometimes are shown as extra white-space between paragraphs but, other times, there’s no visible division.)
To represent this, I moved (drag-and-drop) all the scenes in the Binder up to the Manuscript folder and then deleted (moved to the Trash) all the Chapter folders. Compare the Binder in this and the previous screen capture to see what the result.
This view, the Corkboard View (sixth icon from the right in the top row), shows the 3×5 cards for the Seven Points. The title boxes from Plottr generate the top, bold-face line in each card, and the descriptions (from Plottr) show up as each scene’s Synopsis in Scrivener.
FYI: In the Notes folder (middle of the Binder in the left-hand column), the titles of the Character, Places, and Notes folders also came across from Plottr. These contain additional details I typed up in those areas to Plottr. In the future, I’ll probably promote the “Characters” folder to the top-level and add quite a bit more detail including names and pictures for the characters as well as their personal ticks and aberrations.
I’m ready to spew some text into Scrivener.
Here’s the Scrivener’s writing interface I prefer. It’s called “Scrivening’s Mode.” (Seventh icon from the right in the top view AND “Manuscript” selected in the Binder.)
In the central editor, here’s a dashed divider line between each of the (currently empty) areas for the seven scenes. I clicked the mouse in the first one as that’s where I’ll start writing. Notice that, because of that click, the first scene in the Binder is indicated (light-grey background) and, on the far right, the Inspector shows that scene’s title and Description (from Plottr). I’ll begin writing the body of that scene after reviewing the Synopsis.
When I’m done with that scene, or if inspiration pushes me to a different place (scene) in the story, I’ll click the cursor into that scene. Scrivener will, similar to above, indicate the scene (in the Binder) and display its title and Synopsis in the Inspector on the right.
Most of the time, I write from front to back. But every now and then, a thought will come up and I’ll jump to a different spot in the story to jot down a detail before going back and finishing a scene.
After the first draft is written, I’ll put the story down for a couple of days and then re-read it. I’ll start adding (Scrivener) Comments that’ll be visible to me but not in the print copy, and then following up with changes, insertions, deletions, and so forth.
As a general rule, I’d say that for this work, Plottr facilitates the first part, about one or two percent of the overall effort. The writing of the first draft in Scrivener will fill the next twenty to thirty percent of my total effort. And the remaining time (seventy to eighty percent of my time) will be spent in the edit and polish stage.
For a novel, those percentages will change. Plottr will still be a useful first step but, in the overall measure of effort, while its contribution is significant, the time I’ll spend with Plottr will become tiny, the first draft time will shrink, and the edit time will balloon.
Plottr helps. Scrivener helps. But, as with reality shows on TV, it’s all in the editing.
A week of intermittent attempts at JT-8 on my ham radio failed to make any contacts. Not a single one.
JT-8 is computerized ham radio encoding for low power contacts. In simplified terms, the computer transmits tiny parts of a message “redundantly” (repeatedly) via ham radio to a similar set of equipment at the receiving end. If some of the signal is drowned out by noise or the signal momentarily fades out, the repeated parts include information so the receiving computer can put the whole message back together again. Contacts over hundreds or even thousands of miles are made with no more than a night-light’s power.
While similar claims can be made for cell phone technology, an extensive, expensive, and vulnerable infrastructure is required to make it work. Ham radio, on the other hand, does it with nothing but empty space. It serves the public and emergency services as backup communications in times of natural, or other, disaster.
After downloading the WSJT-X program to a spare Raspberry Pi and getting everything connected and configured, I tried but failed to make any contacts.
I’ve used my equipment in its current configuration for both voice and other computerized communications, so my suspicions naturally fell on the new stuff.
I began by checking and rechecking the settings for the WSJT-X software. There are dozens of them, more for the audio levels, and then also the knobs on the SignaLink USB sound card that pipes out the audio to the ham radio. Guide books gave similar “suggested starting points” so I started with those.
Then, I started trying different variations.
“What if I turn this up, and that down?”
As each of these attempts failed, I gravitated back to the starting points before venturing out on the next wild goose chase.
Eventually, I decided the problem must not be in the software.
Had I inadvertently twisted a knob somewhere that’d shut everything down weeks ago but not realized the consequence until now?
If you’ve seen old-school ham radios, they often have a dozen or more knobs and switches.
Today’s rigs appear to be much simpler.
My transceiver–a transmitter and receiver combined in a single case–is a Yaesu FT-857D. It does most of what the above Collins pair could accomplish, has many newer capabilities not found in the older rigs, and has only five knobs and a few buttons.
But those buttons and the LCD are the “tell” as poker players would say because, inside this compact unit, there’s another computer and a whole lot of very sophisticated software. So, instead of the dozen or more adjustments available on older ham radios, this one makes nearly a hundred things tweak-able through that deceptively small face.
“Sophisticated” is too small a word.
I dove into the radio’s manual for the next couple of days. Was this setting wrong? What about that one? Or these two in combination with those three?
But still no one answered my calls, and my answers to their calls were ignored. Everything looked right, all the numbers and connections were there, but I got squat.
Here’s my equipment, from computer to antenna, and the pertinent settings and measurements that’ve been double- and triple-checked. I’ve numbered the items so they can be referenced herein.
Raspberry Pi model 4 running the WSJT-X program (version 2.0)
SignaLink USB sound card
Yaesu FT-857D, power out set to 25 Watts, 14.074 MHz
MFJ-822 Dual-needle SWR meter (at the transmitter’s connector)
LDG YT-100 antenna tuner
Coax to the wall, through it, then the lightning arrestor
100′ RG-8X coax to the palm tree then up about 20′
WA5BDU transformer at the feed point
a vertical End-Fed Half Wave (EFHW) wire antenna, cut and tuned for the 20 M band
7′ counterpoise hanging down from the common connector on the transformer
I unscrewed the coax from the transmitter and connected it to an antenna analyzer. (The analyzer replaced 1-3 above. It is looking out through 4-10.) It showed a nice sharp VSWR dip at 14.094 MHz. I concluded that the antenna is resonant and, therefore, working correctly.
Wrong! Inserted before the tuner like this, the analyzer is measuring the tuner (#5), not the antenna (#9). Big mistake, but I didn’t realize this at the time. (A senior moment, no doubt.)
With that road block in my thinking, I decided the next step would be to listen for my signal on a different radio. Not having a second HF rig, I decided to try a WebSDR station.
A Software Defined Radio (SDR) connected to the Web allows many users to simultaneously use the same radio through the Internet. This is called WebSDR. (See websdr.org for details.)
I tried three WebSDR stations, one in the midwest, another in Oregon, and a site less than dozen miles from my QTH (location). Not one of them showed any hint of my signal in their waterfall.
Memo to self: When two readings disagree, at least one of them is wrong. The antenna analyzer (connected in the wrong place) indicated a working antenna system, but the WebSDR stations all agreed my antenna system was not radiating. My thinking should have been to realize something was wrong between where the analyzer said, “It’s good,” and the WebSDR stations all reported, “Nope, don’t see a thing.” Moving the antenna analyzer outward toward the antenna was the right thing to do, but I didn’t think of that. [Doh!]
Stumped, I turned everything off and walked away. [Memo to self: Stumped and stubborn start with the same letters. That might not be a coincidence!]
A few days later, our once-a-year tree-trimming guys showed up at 7:15 AM. The tall palm with the antenna wire is a “tree-climbing boots and belt” job, and to minimize danger to the climber, I took down the wire, feed-point transformer, 7′ counterpoise, and rolled the coax out of his way.
When I put the transformer box down, it gave an extra klunk.
I shook it and something rattled inside.
“That’s not right.”
As the tree-trimmer’s chainsaw chewed through the stalks of the palm fronds and they plummeted 56-58′ to the ground, I stood well back as I opened the transformer box. Inside, the toroid had come loose, and with this year’s spring storms banging it against the side of the tree, it had broken the wire to the antenna.
The antenna wire was N.C. – Not Connected!
Thinking back through my process, I finally saw my error. The LDG YT-100 tuner had done its job of matching whatever impedance the feed line, transformer, and open-wire output was presenting. But in fact, my 25 watts was never reaching the antenna wire. Instead, my rig’s transmission was being dissipated in the coax and tuner, probably as heat, and not radiated into space.
The fix took half an hour with an electric drill, two bolts, and a piece of needle nose-fashioned, heavy-gauge solid wire.
Reassembled and hoisted up the tree, I made five (5) JT-8 QSOs (round trip exchanges of call signs and signal reports constitute a “conversation” in JT-8) in a dozen minutes.
WordPress’ WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) view is great for
simple posts. With it, I can dash off a few paragraphs, throw in an
image or two, emphasize some words and bold-face others, and hit
Publish. Voila, I’ve posted my opinion!
That works great for a simple idea. But when the topic is
complicated, say a tutorial on how to use Scrivener to write a blog post
that’ll be uploaded to WordPress, having everything in one bin–the
article on the WordPress screen–makes it hard to see the whole picture.
What I need is a way to pull back and see not just the text, but the overall shape.
The steps and screenshots herein have been developed
and tested with Scrivener 3.2.2 on macOS 11.2.1, using browsers Safari
14.0.3 and Firefox 85.0.2, and uploaded to my website running WordPress
5.1.8 and Jetpack 7.3.2. I am unable to provide assistance for any other
combinations. Any errors are purely my own. I have no formal
relationship with any products used or mentioned herein. I am just a
Addendum (March 10, 2022)
Internal links (from one place in the article to a different spot in the same article) can be defined in Scrivener and included in the transfer to WordPress but require a lower-level, HTML copy/paste. Here’s how.
In Scrivener, create the links in the normal way by selecting the text you want the reader to click, and then do a right-click and select Link to Document and choose the destination.
When ready, generate the HTML as described later in this article. But for the copy/paste to WordPress, however, the WordPress Visual editor will mess up those links. Instead, do this:
Open the HTML file in a non-browser such as the Mac’s TextEdit.app and do the ^A (select all) and ^C (copy), and then
In WordPress, switch to the Code editor (screen capture below).
Do the paste (^V) there.
You may switch back to the Visual editor at that point. (Editing of the links themselves may still be an issue in the Visual Editor. I didn’t try that.)
Scrivener is primarily for novelists and authors of non-fiction
books. Those works may contain hundreds of pages organized into dozens
of chapters and parts, and are commonly published as ink on paper, ebook
and Kindle formats, and web pages on the Internet. Scrivener can
generate one piece of writing in all of these formats and more.
The feature of interest to me when I’m blogging is its ability to
organize, re-organize, and re-re-organize the work. That’s because when I
start to write, I don’t always know what I’m going to say. As a result,
things come out in the wrong order, or I say something that I later
realize is wrong and need to fix, or I decide I’d better explain some
background material before making a certain point.
In other words, I’m disorganized and need help.
That’s what Scrivener provides: Help!
Organization in Scrivener
Scrivener’s ability to contain, move, and manipulate chunks of text
are unsurpassed. Rather than dragging-and-dropping groups of words,
Scrivener does that, too, but it also allows you to drag-and-drop entire
documents and even folders of documents.
To help you see and manipulate how things are arranged, Scrivener provides four different views of a work: the text, the Binder, a Corkboard view, and an Outline view. Which one you use depends on what you want to accomplish at any given moment.
1) Text and 2) Binder
The first way of seeing the work is to simply look at the text. It’s “organization” is simply what appears first, second, third, and so forth. (This is the only view that WordPress provides.) Scrivener’s view of the text (see Figure 1 below) contains three panels: the Binder, the text itself, and an Inspector for the current Binder selection. (I won’t be talking about the Inspector in this article.)
As the writing takes place, the text looks and edits exactly the same
as in WordPress or any other contemporary text editor. You type, select
or high-light words or phrases, and set their attributes in the usual
ways. And there are built-in styles for headings, titles, block
quotations and the other parts found in normal text.
The Binder (on the left) is a high-level “view” of the work’s organization. In this example, the Draft folder (red circle on the left) contains the text of this blog article. It’s sort of a Table of Contents. Inside the Draft are documents and sections containing more documents. Grabbing any of these with the mouse, I can drag it to a new location and drop it. The associated text is instantly re-positioned.
The text in the middle column is seen here in Scrivenings Mode. It shows everything that’s been selected in the Binder. The editor can be scrolled up or down, in this case, over the entire Draft (much like the WordPress editor).
Depending on where the writer clicks in the text, typing goes into the associated section or folder.
Yes, folders may contain text in Scrivener. If you think of a book
that has a quotation at the beginning of each chapter, with Scrivener
that quotation would in the folder along with the chapter title, while
the text would be in a document inside the folder. And just as a chapter
in a book can have several scenes, so too can a folder in Scrivener
contain several documents.
I’ve departed from this only slightly. For this blog article, I want
the titles of not only the chapters but also the individual documents to
appear. That’s an option in Scrivener. (When off, a dashed line appears
on the screen in place of the title, and white space in the compiled
output from Scrivener. We’ll get to compiling later.)
3) Corkboard View
Scrivener’s Corkboard view (Figure 2
below) shows the organization as 3×5 cards. The titles and a Synopsis,
but not the text, of the items at the selected level are displayed.
On the left, notice that Draft is selected. It contains six parts: Introduction, Scrivener Overview, Working in Scrivener,
and so forth. This high-level view allows the writer to focus on the
work’s organization at any level. Many writers begin working in this
view, planning the hierarchy of topics before starting to write, or to
re-organize it after doing some writing.. Using drag-and-drop, cards and
stacks can be moved around. The contents of the Binder will track changes made through the Corkboard.
4) Outline View
The Outline view (Figure 3) also
focuses on this higher level of organization. It looks like a
spreadsheet with one row per section. Each level can be
expanded/contracted so the depth of each folder can be seen.
As with the previous view, the Outline shows an item’s title, its Synopsis (but not it’s text), and also three meta-data fields: Label, Status, and Section Type. In this blog article, I’ve decided to use the Label to indicate the mental focus for each item. I gave that meta-data the choices of General, Scrivener, and WordPress. The Statusmeta-data can also be re-worded for different selections but, in this case, I stuck to the default settings. (Section Type will be significant when we get to Scrivener’s Compile action.)
Working in Scrivener￼
For blog articles about complex subjects, partitioning and
structuring the information can be essential to readers. A framework
helps readers understand the message.
The Overall Process
Structure and write the article in Scrivener using its built-in
styles for headings, bold-face, italics, bulleted and numbered lists,
and add images as appropriate;
Compile the text (to HTML) in Scrivener and then transfer that to WordPress; and
Upload and adjust the images, tweak the WordPress settings for category, tags, and other meta-data, and then push the “Publish” button.
When I decide to write an article for my blog, the first decision I
have to make is whether its going to be a five-minute rant or something
with some real meat to it. For a quickie, I’ll crank up my browser,
connect to my website, spew my thoughts into WordPress, and click
But if the article is intended to teach something or delve into some
depth, then I’m going to need to collect my thoughts and get them
organized before I do much writing.
For that, I want Scrivener.
In the Binder for this article (see preceding screen
shots), you’ll see the four big section (folders), as well as some
introductory material and a final “Wrap-up.” That’s what I mean by structure. It’s got big thoughts and, within each of those, there are smaller thoughts.
With Scrivener, I can focus on the whole document or click down to a
single part and see nothing else. Even better, I can re-arrange the
parts, big and small, at any time simply by dragging the folder and
document icons to a new spot and dropping them.
That structure could be created directly in the Binder, or in the Corkboard view, or in the Outline view. For this article, I started with three sections: Working in Scrivener, Transition to WordPress, and WordPress Work. After a little typing, I realized I should add an Introduction. And then an hour later, I added the Scrivener Overview chunk.
Personal confession: There is nothing linear about my writing
process. Scrivener understands that, and is perfectly content dealing
with my scatter-brain approach.
With something of a guess at the general structure, the writing can begin.
I jump around, writing here, some there, adding a note to check
something in one spot, then going off to do an experiment and then later
come back with the results. Those get sprayed in here, there, and yon.
The Binder gives me single-click access to the
document or folder I want. Much easier than scrolling up and down or
searching in WordPress. (Scrivener will also let you search the whole
thing, and with bells and whistles unknown in WordPress.)
Styles and Typefaces
In the text, most settings in Scrivener’s pre-defined styles will
pass through. Heading 1 and Heading 2 are fine as well as Code Block.
And the Block Quote style works, but its associated Attribution style
doesn’t make it to WordPress. Captions on images won’t make the trip
either. Fortunately, bold-face, italics, bullet and numbered lists are
good-to-go but, for whatever reason, underlining doesn’t make it through
As to typeface changes–Arial, Times New Roman, and Helvetica are three different typefaces–Wordpress
makes it hard. It has to be done through CSS–Cascaded Style Sheets–and
the associated tagging of paragraphs and <div> sections, both of
which are far beyond this post’s coverage. Unless you’re an expert,
don’t try. You’ll only hurt your forehead on the brick wall.
I do a lot of screen captures and, as often as not, use a graphic editor to add something to the picture. These are done before adding the image to Scrivener. I also give the image file a meaningful name such as “Outline View” or “Added Images Directory.”
Then, to add that image to Scrivener, I like to do a couple of things before actually inserting it:
Type the image file’s name into Scrivener on a line all by itself,
Put an empty line after that,
Add another line with the figure# and caption for the image, and finally,
Drag-and-drop the image from a file browser in that empty line.
Depending on the image, it may look huge in Scrivener. So, I right-click and use Scale Image to shrink it to a convenient size.
Important note: This resizing is temporary and has
nothing to do with its final size in WordPress. Later, you’ll be
dragging and dropping the images into WordPress; the way WordPress
stores and handles images necessitates this. But while editing in
Scrivener, I like to see the picture, so even though this means extra
work, I choose to do it.
I also create an “Images” folder in my Scrivener project and save the
modified pictures there as well. This folder is “just in case” I
inadvertently delete some text (containing the in-line image).
To add a top-level folder, start by clicking on, for example, the Research folder and then doing a Project -> New Folder. This puts the new folder “inside” (within) Research but that’s not what I want. To move the folder to the same level as Research, Draft,
or any other top-level folder, grab it with the mouse and very gingerly
drag slightly down-and-left. (This is a very small motion.) Scrivener
will show a guide so you can see where the “drop” will go when you
release the mouse button. [You can also enable the “Move” buttons via View -> Customize Toolbar. These make folder promotions and demotions much easier!]
Transition to WordPress
When the text and images in Scrivener are finished, it’s time to switch and do the final preparation in WordPress.
We’re going to have Scrivener generate the HTML code. Scrivener will
store it along with a copy of all the needed images into a new
directory. That puts everything together in one place for the transfer
The first step in this transition uses Scrivener’s Compile function.
Compiling the Post
When you compile a work in Scrivener, you put it in publication form.
Note: A novel might be published as a hardcover, a
trade (6×9″) paperback, a smaller (5×7″) paperback with smaller print,
an ebook, a Kindle edition, and a web page, all for the same work. These
are five different compiles we could do to this one project. For the WordPress blog, we need one very specific Compile. This section tells you what to do.
For the web, we need HTML, and for WordPress, it’s a specific subset known as MultiMarkdown in Scrivener.
Here are the Compile settings.
Note: This is the first of several screens that need your attention.
Set the Compile for: option at the top center to MultiMarkdown -> Web Page (.html).
Set Formats to Basic MultiMarkdown.
Click the General Options (gear icon), and
Checkmark Convert rich text to MultiMarkdown. (The Escape special characters option will be automatically checkmarked.)
Click the Assign Section Layouts button.
Section Layouts tell Scrivener how to format your text, chapter headings, and so forth.
My project has folders and text so there are two Section Types: Heading and Section (on the left in the above Figure 6.) To connect (map) them to Section Layouts, click items in the order shown.
Section (on the left part of the panel),
Text Section with Heading (on the right),
Heading (on the left) and
Heading (on the right).
Before clicking OK, there’s one more change needed in the Section Layout settings. In the screen capture above next to “4”, notice that the Heading
layout contains “# Section Title #” but no immediate text. In my
writing, I sometimes put text in the thing that looks like a folder and I
want that to appear in the output.
Use your mouse to hover over the rectangle to the right of the number
“4”. When you do, on the far right corner you should see a grey circle
with a pencil.
Click the pencil!
In the pop-up, click Duplicate Format and Edit Layout.
Therein, checkmark the “Text” square on the Heading line. (See below.)
Click Save to get back to the previous panel, then OK to return to the Compile settings panel.
Hang on now: We’re about to see a rather unusual thing. It’s not hard but it may stretch your experience a bit.
Click the Compile button in the lower-right corner. This will bring up the output selection panel.
WARNING: Weirdness here! The Save As name that Scrivener suggests (see red circle above) looks like its going to be an HTML file. But it’s not. It’s the name of the directory
Scrivener is going to create. That’s right, a directory is allowed to
have an extension on its name. It’s a rarely used option but, in this
case, Scrivener is suggesting it for the destination directory. Inside
that directory (with the funny name), Scrivener is going to put the real
HTML file (with a .html extension again) alongside all the images
needed for the blog. You can remove the .html extension to the directory
name and it’ll appear to work, but if you then look in the file system,
the .html extension will be there. Apparently, Scrivener insists upon
using it. Why? I have no idea. That’s just the way it is.
Set the name in the Save As box as you prefer and click the Export
button in the bottom-right corner. Scrivener will generate the HTML and
image files therein. (You might then want to use a file system browser
to inspect the contents of the directory.)
We are now ready to begin the transition to WordPress!
Uploading Text to WordPress
A copy-and-paste approach works very nicely to move the HTML from your machine “up” to WordPress.
Use a file browser to look at the HTML directory created by
Scrivener. In that directory, you should see all of the images and a
single .html file. Open the latter by double-clicking on it. This should
start your preferred web browser and it should display the blog
Tip: Leave the file browser open to the HTML directory. You’ll need it soon when it is time to drag-and-drop images into WordPress.
In the browser displaying the HTML from Scrivener, click the mouse
anywhere in the text and then select all (^A) of the file and then copy
Connect to your website in a different browser tab or window. After logging in to WordPress, I tell it to start a New Post. WordPress will open, by default, to its Visual Editor.
Pot-Hole Alert (added 09/04/2021): WordPress has two (2) editing modes. One is the Visual Editor and it is, for the most part, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). Paragraphs have white space, bold text is emboldened, emphasized text shows in italics and so forth.
WordPress’s second edit mode is the Code Editor. In that mode, you’ll see HTML tags like “<p>” around paragraphs and other codes around other chunks of text.
When you copy and then paste, in both cases you should be in the same mode. That is, if you’re going to copy your post in WYSIWYG mode (with bold and italicized text in view), then be sure to paste it while in WordPress’s Visual Mode.
If you’re going to copy your post and can see the HTML tags on your screen, then paste it to WordPress in the Code Editor mode.
Add a new text block, click in it, and then paste (^V) what you copied into WordPress.
You should see your blog article in WordPress but with no images, or greyed-out versions.
I like to scroll to the top of WordPress, enter the title of my blog article, and do Save Draft.
With the HTML text uploaded and saved in WordPress, it’s time to
upload and adjust your images, and do the final assembly before
publishing the new blog article.
Insert and Tweak the Images
I like to position the WordPress window to the left side of my
computer screen and a file browser window that’s been opened on the HTML
directory to the right (see Figure 10 below). That’ll put the image files within convenient reach.
Search for the image file names you put in the text and, for each one, do the following. (See Figure 10 below.)
Drag an image from the file browser into WordPress and drop it into the space (empty image block) below the image file’s name. Wait for the upload to finish. WordPress will store it in Media and create several copies at different sizes for your use later.
Click the image and, on the right, select Block.
Set the final size of the image and other details.
Use the icons above and to the left of the image to set image placement (left, center, right). You can also use the pencil icon to edit the image itself. [Personally, I prefer to edit the image much earlier with an off-line editor. WordPress’s image editing controls are rudimentary, at best.]
Click near the bottom of the image on the line beginning with a single hyphen and enter the caption for the image such as with your figure number and/or image title and description. I put mine in boldface.
Remove the now extraneous WordPress blocks with the image and figure titles.
Repeat the drag-and-drop, settings, and placements for all images in the article.
Publishing the Post
Use the Preview capability in WordPress to make sure everything is correct.
Click back to the Document tab (its right next to the Block selection that’s circled in the previous image in its upper-right corner). Set all the WordPress meta-data parameters such as Categories and Tags as you wish.
Everything look right in the Preview?
Click Publish and then visit your home page to see the result.
Here’s the deal: A big, complex post is very difficult to manage in WordPress. It just doesn’t have the tools to help you structure your thinking or the post. It’s fine for brief, soapbox rants, but if you want to teach someone how to do something or mount a significant and convincing case, WordPress is not a writing tool.
That’s what it’s for. It has the muscles and tools to not only help
you structure your work, but it’ll also enable you to publish them on a
blog, in an ebook or Kindle edition, a self-published paperback (with
the aid of a print shop–I use lulu.com, by the way), or to generate a manuscript for submission to a literary agent and, thence, to a hardcover publisher.
Writing is work, and Scrivener has the tools for serious writers.
Scrivener is for big writing such as novels and non-fiction books. It is also wonderful with briefer works such as short stories, blog posts, and things that start small but might later bloom.
To cope with the big works, Scrivener can do a lot of things.
And there’s the rub: like the works it supports, Scrivener is also big.
“Too big,” beginners might say looking at the 900 page reference manual.
The good news is you don’t need everything. It’s there if you want it, but, for the most part, you can safely ignore any/all things that you don’t know how to use.
Let me say that again: With Scrivener, ignore what you don’t know. You can still use Scrivener, and it’ll still be a valuable tool for you.
As time passes, you can delve a little deeper, learn something new, and then go back and apply it–as you want–to your earlier works. Or not!
Here’s a suggested strategy and some on-going warnings. (If you’re like me, this will take a long time, maybe forever.)
Don’t Panic! (Hat tip to Douglas Adams.)
Beware of unconscious prejudices you’ve learned from Microsoft Word and other document editors. Scrivener appears to be WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) but that is like saying the white part above the water is an iceberg. In fact, that’s only 5% of it. Scrivener is a whole lot more.
Install Scrivener on your computer.
Do the built-in Help -> Interactive Tutorial.
Closed book test: Re-write “Little Red Riding Hood” or some other simple fable in Scrivener. (Don’t copy/paste it. Outline the story in your head, transfer that to Scrivener, and then write the story as if it were your own.)
Watch some of the Help -> Video Tutorials and, as the spirit moves you, create a File -> New Project to experiment. (I name mine “DeleteMe-xxx” where “xxx” is something descriptive, and the “DeleteMe” is so I later know it can be trashed.)
Print the entire Help -> Scrivener Manual. Don’t Panic! Yeah, I know. It’s 900 pages. Three-hole punch it and stick it in a binder. You’re gonna want a hardcopy to scribble your notes. (Don’t want to? Okay, it’s your printer, not mine. Do this how you want.)
Repeat indefinitely as time and interest permits:
Write something in Scrivener. (Pick any template that tickles your fancy. As you learn Scrivener, you’ll learn how to change things around so that short story can become a series of novels.) For now, just write.
Browse the Scrivener Manual and write notes in the margin or scribble them on a notepad. Ignore sections you don’t (yet) understand. When you find something intriguing, create a project named “DeleteMe” or similar and play around.
Go to Youtube and search for Scrivener. Watch one tutorial that looks interesting. Create another new “DeleteMe2” project and experiment.
Google Scrivener and follow any interesting links. Dabble more. (Are you up to “DeleteMe9” yet? If they bother you, use a file browser to delete them.)
But most of all, write your stuff in Scrivener.
Nobody knows or uses all of Scrivener. Instead, we all use the parts that help us do what we do, and glide blissfully past the parts we don’t. If parts of Scrivener can help you write, then use them. If other parts don’t seem to apply, then ignore them. Maybe they’ll be useful later. Maybe not.
In time, you’ll use more and more of Scrivener, and it’ll help make your writing better and better.
Metadata describes or points to other data. In Scrivener, the metadata variable <$author> is the name for a project’s author. In my case, that’d be E D Skinner. There’s also metadata for the name of the current project, <$projectname>. It contains the name of the project–its filename–when it was created.
Note: The steps and screenshots that follow are for Scrivener 3.2.2 on a MacBook running MacOS Big Sur 11.2. If you have a different version or platform, some adjustments may be needed.
Metadata in Scrivener is saved in four places:
Scrivener -> Preferences, General, Author Information;
Compile, metadata icon (above the right-most pane);
Project -> Project Settings, Custom Metadata; and
Other (see Help -> List of all Placeholders).
NOTE: When a new project is created (File -> New Project), the first (Author Information) is copied to the second (Compile, metadata) of the new project.
If you then change your Scrivener preferences (#1), only projects created after that will get the change.
You’ll need to manually change the Compile metadata in any pre-existing projects if you want them to have the new values.
1. Scrivener -> Preferences, General, Author Information
The first metadata is born when Scrivener runs on your computer for the first time. Part of the initialization asks for your name, address, etc. It is stored in Scrivener before any project exists. And everytime you run Scrivener, that same information–unless you change it–is resurrected.
You can review (and change) it in your Scrivener -> Preferences. Click the General tab at the top, and then Author Information on the left. Here’s mine.
There are nine (9) pieces of information (data) in this display including my forename and surname, address, telephone, and email address.
Later, when a project is created (File -> New Project), all of this data is copied into the project where it is then sliced, diced, and recombined to become several metadata variables.
Some of it ends up in the Compile metadata.
2. Compile, metadata icon (above the right-most pane)
In the new project, if I write <$surname> in the text, when it is compiled, it will be replaced with Skinner. Similarly, <$forename> becomes E D. And for convenience, my whole name is put together in <$author> as E D Skinner.
As you can probably guess, the <$projecttitle> and <$abbr_title> come from the filename given when the project is first created.
NOTE: If you later use the Mac Finder or other file browser to change the name of the Scrivener project, this metadata within the project won’t be changed. You’ll need to manually change the Compile metadata in the display above. (Once changed, it will be saved as part of the project.)
3. Project -> Project Settings, Custom Metadata
The third place Scrivener keeps metadata is for new variables of your own devising. There’s a good section in the reference manual showing you the how and why of it.
Each item in the Binder can assign a different value to each variable you add. In that sense, the Custom Metadata belongs to (is stored in) each scene, folder, and part item in the Binder, They can also be added to the Outline view’s headings so you can see them while scrolling through your work in that view.
And you can refer to them in the text with the <$custom:xxx> metadata variable where “xxx” is the name of your Custom Metadata. In the display above, I have two metadata variables. To insert them into the text of a scene, I would write <$custom:Date/Time> for the first, and <$custom:Plot Point> for the second.
4. Other (see Help -> List of all Placeholders)
There are a bunch of metadata variables. Scrivener refers to them as Placeholders and we’ve seen a few of them already. All of them are enclosed within “<” and “>” and begin with a dollar sign “$”. The author’s name, as we’ve seen, is in the <$author> placeholder. (I’m a software guy so I think of these as variables.)
You’ll see all of the ones mentioned here and a great many others.
TIP: To search and print the complete list, use Help -> List of all Placeholders to bring up the list. Click therein and type ^A to select all of the document. Then close it, add a new text item to your project, click in the text therein and paste (^V) the list. You can then use Edit -> Find and other tools to explore, and you can prune out any subsection you might want, and print just that or the whole list.
Here’s an example project. I named it DeleteMe.
You’ll notice the Draft folder in the Binder contains one text item. In the central editor, I’ve typed things like, “Surname is <$surname>” so we can see which variable has what value.
In the inspector pane on the right, also notice the two Custom Metadata variables, Main storyline and Date/time.
When I compile the Draft folder, here’s the output.
Two Key Points
Author name and details are copied from Scrivener -> Preferences, General, Author Information and into a project when it is created. In that project, it is saved in the Compile, metadata settings.
Similarly, a project’s name is initially used as its filename. But it is also stored in the project’s compile settings. If you change the filename with the Finder, a file browser, or some other mechanism, the Compile, metadata setting inside the file will not be affected. You’ll probably want to launch Scrivener and change that as well.
Over thousands of years, storytellers have learned two things about people:
They listen, read, or watch stories as escape from their lives, and
They will sympathize with characters who fight and defeat powerful enemies, or that fight but succumb to terrible injustices.
Whether you are a Plotter who plans his stories before writing, or a Pantser who writes to discover the story, everyone then edits and tweaks. The tools and techniques I’m going to show you can be applied both before and after writing.
The two main things to include are the Three Act Structure and the Seven Point System. We’ll cover them first. In the simple case, both are easy to apply. The fun part is then blending multiple storylines. We’ll start with some preliminary knowledge and technique before getting to that.
You are invited to do these steps on your own, with or without Scrivener, as you read along.
Three Act Structure
Storytellers, playwrights, and authors have, over thousands of years, developed the so-called Three Act structure. In the last several decades, Hollywood has applied it most profitably to the movies. Book publishers have also learned it is an important but less visible aspect of bestsellers.
There is a Beginning, a Middle, and an End. (Each of them usually contain many scenes.)
In the Beginning (Act I), we are introduced to the protagonist, the main character, and setting, where and when. We learn about the protagonist’s life and whether he or she is a good person or not. Then, moments before the end of the first act, a bomb, figurative or actual, drops on or near the protagonist, and his/her world is forever changed.
In the Middle (Act II), we see the protagonist reacting to the profoundly changed world. He discovers, first of all, that his old way of living and doing things doesn’t work anymore. So, he starts trying new ways of coping, but not all of them work. Act II, like Act I, ends with some major event, something that reminds the protagonist of the source of the change, and with it the reminder that until that source is dealt with, nothing is going to be right again.
In the End (Act III), the protagonist is forced to a life-changing decision: “I must/can/have-to do this!” She realizes that 1) no one else can do this, and 2) she is the only one who has a chance. So, she gathers things such as like-minded companions, tools, weapons, and knowledge, and then confronts the evil that changed the world. If she wins, the story has a happy ending. If she fails, it’s a tragedy.
Watch practically any movie from Hollywood for the past fifty years, and you’ll see this structure.
Seven Point System
In recent years, fiction writers have developed more detailed structures within those three Acts. One of these is called the Seven Point System.
Interwoven with the Three Act system, the Seven Points show us more detail. (Each “point” will often contain multiple scenes.)
Act I (Beginning, 25%)
Hook — The Normal World
Plot Turn 1 — Big Event Changes Everything – The Main Character’s Life is Forever Changed – In many stories, the Hook and Plot Turn 1 are written as a single, interleaved unit. But for the sake of story design, they are treated separately.
Act II (Middle, 50%)
Pinch 1 — Bad Stuff Happens, Main Character Reacts to It
Midpoint — Low Point in the Story. All Seems Lost.
Pinch 2 — More Bad Stuff Happens, Main Character Changes and Begins Initiating Actions
Plot Turn 2 — Another Big Event Changes Everything (Again) [Main Character’s attempt to fix everything has dailed]
Act III (End, 25%)
Resolution — Buildup, Climax, and Denouement
Don’t let the single plot point in Act III fool you. That “Buildup, Climax, and Denouement” often take many scenes (and/or chapters in a book) to complete.
The percentage markers on each of the three acts above are worth noting. These sizes (or durations in a movie) are remarkably common. In most Hollywood movies, you can often predict where the two big moments, Plot Turn 1 and Plot Turn 2, will occur. If it’s a standard two-hour flick, Plot Turn 1 should happen at about the 30 minute mark, and Plot Turn 2 should be at around ninety minutes.
The reason for these percentages, the Three Act system, and the Seven Points is simple: They work for the paying audience. Apparently, there’s something in the human psyche that is more likely to be drawn in ($) when this structure and these durations are present. (There are exceptions, of course. But if you’re just starting out, it’s better to “go with the flow” until you understand it before setting off into the unknown wilderness.)
For whatever reason, human beings seem to like stories with these attributes better than those without.
So, how do we go about writing a story that uses these structures?
We’ll begin the answer by doing a little reverse engineering.
Let’s start with a simple story, one that contains a single arc or storyline.
Three Little Pigs
You might remember the fable of the three little pigs whose houses were made of straw, sticks, and bricks.
In it, the brick-laying pig was still hard at work building his house while his companions partied after their much easier constructions. At this point, a wolf arrives, and the pigs flee to their respective houses.
After some huffing and puffing, the straw house collapses and that pig joins his friend in the stick house. It, too, succumbs to the wolf’s attack and the two pigs run to their friend’s brick house. There, they are temporarily safe from the creature’s blowing.
But the third pig realizes the wolf could come down his chimney and eat them, so he boils water in a huge kettle in the fireplace and, when the wolf does indeed slide down, their deadly adversary is killed.
Thereafter, they build two more brick houses and everyone is safe and happy.
Dan Wells recommends designing the seven points of a storyline in a specific order.
Resolution (plot point 7) – Start at the end: What is the state of the protagonist after the climax?
Hook (plot point 1) – Then specify the beginning: The protagonist’s state is the opposite of what it will be in the Resolution.
Midpoint (plot point 4) – At the low point, the protagonist stops reacting. He starts taking the initiative (but will fail at first).
Plot Turn 1 (plot point 2) – A.k.a., the inciting event. Introduce the conflict which irrevocably changes the protagonist’s world.
Plot Turn 2 (plot point 6) – The protagonist realizes he/she [alone!] has the power to defeat the antagonist.
Pinch 1 (plot point 3) – Something goes wrong. For example, the antagonist attacks (and succeeds) thus applying pressure on the protagonist.
Pinch 2 (plot point 5) – An attempt at a solution by the protagonist, but it fails and, thus, applies more pressure on the protagonist.
Using 3×5 cards and following the order above, we can break this story down into its Seven Points. Here’s the result.
In case you can’t read my hand-writing, here’s what the cards say.
Hook: Pigs, Houses, & Inclinations — Introducing 3 pigs, 2 of them lazy w shoddy houses, and one who is industrious and builds w brick.
Plot Turn 1: Evil Attacks — The wolf arrives and chases the lazy pigs into their respective houses. (The pig’s world just changed!)
Pinch 1: House #1 Fails — The wolf blows down the straw house. Pig 1 flees to Pig 2’s stick house.
Midpoint: … THIS STORY DOESN’T HAVE ONE! We don’t know what Pig 3 is thinking so the reader has to intuit his feelings. To make this story marketable to today’s audience, we’ll need to show (don’t tell) his feelings.
Pinch 2: House #2 Goes Down — The straw house goes down. Pig 3 realizes only he can save them.
Plot Turn 2: “Save Us, Pig 3!” — Pigs 1 and 2 flee to Pig 3’s brick house but the wolf follows, and worse, the pigs are trapped in the house! (The pig’s world just changed again!)
Resolution: Final Battle — The wolf fails to blow down the brick house and pigs 1 and 2 think they are safe but Pig 3 realizes the wolf could come down the chimney and eat them. So, Pig 3 does something heroic; he puts a pot of boiling water in the fireplace, and when the wolf comes down, it is killed. Happy dance!
Let’s transfer this into a Scrivener project.
We learn by doing. There is no pre-typed project for you to download. Go and push the buttons, click the mouse’s clicker, and do it yourself…and learn!
FYI: The steps and screenshots that follow are for Scrivener 3.2.2 on a MacBook running MacOS Big Sur 11.2. While the 3×5 card process will work for anyone with paper and pencil, if you have a different version of Scrivener, some adjustments may be necessary.
Launch Scrivener and click the File menu and select New Project. Therein, click the Fiction category, choose Short Story, and at the bottom, click Create. (Hereafter, I’ll abbreviate mouse click sequences such as this to: File -> New Project, Fiction, Short Story, Create.)
I named my project Three Pigs.
Assuming you are doing the same, in your project’s Manuscript folder, modify and add New Text, and type in the Synopsis for the first scene. Repeat adding New Text (and its Synopsis) until you have all seven scenes.
In Scrivener’s Outline view, it should look like this. (Select Manuscript in the Binder and click the icon in the red circle.)
Next, let’s add the Seven Point System designations. We’ll use Scrivener’s Label attribute.
If you typically use Scrivener labels for something else, bear with me. Over time, I use these for different purposes. They are easy to re-define and, in the lifetime of a project, I will use and re-use them for many short-term deeds.
To set up Labels for the Seven Point System, we need to change the default to “Hook,” “Plot Point 1,” and so forth. In the bottom-right corner of the display, click the double-headed arrow next to “No Label” and choose Edit.
In the Edit (see FIGURE 4 below), modify the labels for the Seven Points. Use the “+” icon, circled below, when you need to add more labels, and click OK when done.
FYI: I’ve shortened “Plot Turn 1” to simply “Turn 1” and the same for “Plot Turn 2” to allow me to keep the columns narrow (see below).
Back in the Outline view, set the scene labels: use the up/down arrows in the Label column for each scene.
Next, let’s add some folders for the three acts.
In the Binder, select the Manuscript folder and do Project -> New Folder three times, and name the additions Act I, Act II, and Act III. Don’t worry if they show up after the seven scenes. We’re going to fix that in the next step.
Now, focusing solely on the Binder, click and hold the first “Pigs, Houses, and Incli…” scene and “drag and drop” it into the Act I folder..
You’ll need a steady hand on the mouse while doing this. After “grabbing” something, move the mouse slowly when it’s near a folder and you’ll see the marker on the screen change to tell you when something will be dropped “into” a folder versus being placed after it.)
Continue until all scenes are inside the appropriate Act folder, and also in the correct order.
Notice, in the Binder below, that the three acts are indented “inside” the Manuscript, and the individual scenes are, in turn, indented “inside” each of the three acts. It’s the indenting (and down arrow on the left) that show this. Your scenes should be “inside” (indented) in the correct Act folder.
In theater terminology, you now have three acts with a total of seven scenes.
In Scrivener, some books have “Part” divisions, each of which contain “Chapters” which, in turn, are composed of “Scenes.” You could argue that Parts I, II, and III are analogous to Acts I, II, and III. If we were working with a large, complex work, we might use that approach. But since this is a simple story, two levels of structuring (Chapters and Scenes) is sufficient.
Click on the Manuscript in the Binder. Your complete Outline view should now look like this. (You may need to expand each of the Acts to see all the scenes.)
We could begin writing this story now but it would never make it in today’s market.
It has no clear hero. Only at the end do we find out Pig #3 is going to do something heroic. Readers today want to know from the beginning who they should root for.
There’s no POV (Point Of View) character. We do have a narrator, the person telling the story, but that disconnects the reader from the action. The story will be more compelling if the reader bonds with someone in the story itself. Most of the time, stories are presented from the protagonist’s POV, with or without a narrator.
The hero, Pig #3, doesn’t do anything until after the straw and stick houses have both been destroyed. Today’s readers want to see him confronting the evil wolf from the very beginning.
Perhaps it’s a minor problem but, after the first attack, Pig #1 runs to the stick house. Why? Why did he go there instead of the brick house? Readers will want to know why he made this choice so we will need to fabricate something to satisfy their curiosity.
To bring the story up to contemporary expectations, we need to:
name the major players,
select a protagonist and tell the story from his POV,
give him two try/fail attempts before the final climax, and
give Pig 1 a reason to run to Pig 2’s house.
To get started with the rewrite, let’s create character and setting cards, and then scope out the scenes.
Here are the character and setting cards.
Mugsy: Pig #1. Straw house. A “party animal.”
Pugsy: Pig #2. Stick house. Also a “party animal.”
Walter: Pig #3 and the protagonist. He’s responsible and hard working, but cares about his (foolish) friends. The story will be presented (POV) through his eyes.
The Big Bad Wolf: He’s big and scraggly with many scars, and has glistening white, saliva-drenched teeth.
The Forest Clearing: A clearing in a forest. Mugsy & Pugsy build their straw and stick houses on one side. Walter builds his brick house on the other side.
The revised 3×5 story cards look like this.
Hook: Walter Labors, Mugsy & Pugsy Dance — Walter sees Mugsy and Pugsy dancing after completing their straw and stick houses while he is still laying brick.
Plot Turn 1: The Wolf Enters — Walter sees the wolf and surmises its goal, a tasty meal.
Pinch 1: Straw House Collapses — Walter sees the collapse of the straw house, and when Mugsy flees, he tries to get him to come to the brick house, but Pugsy’s stick house is closer. (Walter’s try/fail #1.)
Midpoint: Walter Tries to Distract the Wolf — The wolf attacks the stick house. Walter realizes the same thing is going to happen again so he steps outside and starts waving his fore-hooves and squealing to distract the wolf. But, after an angry glare, the wolf continues huffing and puffing at the stick house. (Walter’s try/fail #2.) [Walter initiates action from here on. This is the hero’s cardinal change at the Midpoint!]
Pinch 2: Stick House Collapses — When the stick house collapses, Mugsy and Pugsy run to Walter’s brick house. They slam the door inches ahead of the wolf.
Plot Turn 2: It’s Only a Matter of Time — The wolf huffs and puffs at the brick house, but other than the door rattling, it is unscathed. Mugsy and Pugsy voice their relief but Walter knows it’s only a matter of time until the wolf spots the open chimney.
Resolution: Walter Saves the Day — Walter stokes the fire in his fireplace to heat the water in his gigantic pot. When the wolf spots the chimney, he dives down through it, but then plunges into the boiling water and dies. Mugsy and Pugsy elect Walter as President of the Forest Clearing Association and build new houses of brick.
We now have a real Midpoint: Walter has a revelation, that Mugsy and Pugsy won’t be safe in the stick house, and he changes from reaction to action when he waves and yells to distract the wolf. From the Midpoint on, Walter acts like a hero by trying to save his friends!
Let’s put this into Scrivener.
FYI: If you’ve been holding off and waiting for the multiple storyline stuff before turning on your computer, now’s the time to boot up and start typing. This project will be the basis for the more complex work to follow.
Scrivener’s File -> Save As and specifying a new project name–perhaps appending a version number of your own to the name–is another way of creating a new project while preserving the old one.
Here’s my new project with the rewritten storyline after everything has been updated. I named it Three Little Pigs — Single Storyline.
At this point, we could begin writing the text of our rewritten story using each scene’s Synopsis.
But the overall story is still dull and droll. It is, after all, just an old fable.
It needs SEX!
Today’s readers are accustomed to complicated stories. They expect subplots. These may also called different things such as character arcs, story arcs, romance arcs, …
So, let’s have Walter fall in love!
Meet the girl.
Lola (Romantic Interest)
Goal: Marriage but have some fun in the meantime.
Likes scarlet lipstick.
Adding a romantic interest is going to complicate Walter’s life. He not only has to defeat the wolf, but now he also has to win Lola’s (flighty) heart.
But romance has its ups and downs. Indeed, it can be a story all on its own. In other words, we now have two storylines: defeating evil, and winning at love.
Here are the scenes for the Romance Storyline.
Hook: Lola Arrives — Lola wanders into the clearing and joins the dancing with Mugsy and Pugsy.
Turn 1: Walter Sees “His One True Love” — Moments before the wolf arrives, Walter sees Lola and decides she’s the one. He waves when she looks his way but then ignores him and keeps dancing.
Pinch 1: Lola flees to Pugsy’s House — She runs with Mugsy to Pugsy’s stick house.
Midpoint: Walter Realizes Only He Can Save Lola — Walter realizes he must save Lola as well as Mugsy and Pugsy.
Pinch 2: Lola Flees to Walters But Huddles with Mugsy and Pugsy — Lola flees with Mugsy and Pugsy to Walter’s house.
Turn 2: Lola Sees Walter as Her Knight in Shining Armor — When the wolf huffs and puffs but Walter’s house protects them, she moves from Mugsy and Pugsy to stand close to Walter. He tells her, “We must kill the wolf!” She helps Walter ready the kettle and they exchange looks of admiration and affection.
Resolution: Walter and Lola Marry — Walter and Lola marry in the clearing before the partially built brick homes of Mugsy and Pugsy.
Using Labels for Storyline
Next, we need to merge and sequence the two storylines together. There’s a nice feature in Scrivener for this. It uses Labels and is called Arrange by Label. It’s a feature of the Corkboard view.
Here’s a preview. Each vertical line represents one storyline and we can drag-and-drop scenes up and down any storyline, and shift them to other storyline(s) as we might wish.
But to use this feature, we have to use labels for storylines. We’ve already set our labels to one of the Seven Points. If we re-use labels for something else, aren’t we going to lose track of our Seven Point information?
Yes and no. We’ll need to move the Seven Points information somewhere else. And Scrivener’s Metadata is the perfect place!
Preparing to Leap Forward Again
Let’s start by shifting the work to yet another new project (and copying over what we need from the old one). [You could also do a File -> Save As and specify the name of the new project rather than copying–drag-and-drop–the scenes. Both methods are valuable. Be sure to try both ways.]
Here’s what you need to accomplish in setting up the new project:
Name the new project something like Three Pigs — Multiple Storylines;
Add five characters (Mugsy, Pugsy, Walter, Big Bad Wolf, and Lola);
Add a setting for the forest clearing; and
Include the scenes from your previous project, but omit the acts (folders) because, with two storylines, we’re going to be shuffling/merging/squishing things around.
Next, in the Label settings [you changed them earlier–so do it again] and provide only two choices: Main Storyline and Romance Storyline. In the screen captures, you’ll see I also changed the Label colors to lime green for the main story, and hot pink for the romance. (In the Label editor, click on the color dots to change them.)
Label the original scenes as Main Storyline.
Then, add the seven romance scenes beneath the first storyline and Label them to the Romance Storyline.
When done, the Outline view should look something like this.
Next, let’s define two metadata variables. Each of them will consist of a list of the Seven Points. (Additionally, we need to enable them in the Outline view.)
You might question why we need two variables. After all, we did this before with theLabeland there was only one of those. The reasons we need two variables is because one scene may, after we do some shuffling and editing, end up in both storylines, and have a different plot point in each. To give one scene two plot points means we need two metadata variables.
As you did before, click the up-down arrow next to the Label field in the bottom-right corner of the display and click Edit…
But this time, on the left side of the edit window that opens, select Custom Metadata (see the screen capture below).
In this display, notice there is an upper and a lower box on the right, each of them with a “+” and a “-” icon (above or below the respective boxes).
On the far right at the top, click the “+” icon and create a new metadata variable called Main Storyline. In the middle between the two boxes, set the Type: to List, and at the bottom of the lower box, use that lower “+” icon to add values for the Seven Points. (Tip: I used shorter names so the columns in the Outline view can be narrow.)
Similarly, add a second metadata variable, Romance Storyline, and give it the same List of possible values.
Click OK to save your changes to Custom Metadata.
With the two metadata variables added, let’s add them to the Outline view.
Select the Manuscript in the Binder, the Outline view, and then the right-pointed arrow in the outline’s heading.
In the list of fields to be displayed in the Outline view (see below), checkmark the Main Storyline and Romance Storyline variables near the bottom of the list.
Finally, set the Main Storyline metadata variable for each of the (first) seven scenes to the appropriate Seven Point value, and the Romance Storyline metadata variable for the (last) seven scenes to their appropriate Plot Point values. (At the moment, each scene should be in one or the other storyline. Below, notice that “Walter Saves the Day” scene is the Resolution in the Main Storyline, but None (not part of) the Romance Storyline.)
Arrange by Label
We’re ready to start merging the two storylines!
We’ll do this in the Corkboard view by turning on Arrange by Label and then dragging-and-dropping the scenes up and down either storyline. (You can also move a scene sideways from one storyline to the other. If you do that by accident, you can just as easily shift it back.)
To get started, make sure the Manuscript is (1) selected, (2) choose the Corkboard view, (3) click Arrange by Label, (4) set the arrangement to vertical, and (5) adjust the card size to the minimum.
Now, you’re ready to drag-and-drop the scenes. (As you do, Scrivener will re-sequence the Binder.)
Reading the synopses, I decided that both Hook scenes should appear in the story as scenes 1 and 2. So, I used the mouse to grab the first scene in the Romance Storyline and dragged it up so it fit into the gap just after the Main Storyline‘s first scene.
Continue adjusting the scenes up and down the story until you have them in a spot that seems reasonable to you.
You may find, as I did, that some scenes should be merged. After shuffling things around, I decided that the first scene in each storyline, “Walter Labors while Mugsy and Pugsy Party” (Main Storyline) and “Lola Arrives” (Romance Storyline) should actually be a single, blended scene. In my mind’s eye, I see Walter looking across as Mugsy and Pugsy dance when Lola comes into view. Walter will admire her beauty, then see her start to dance with his pals and feel his heart start to throb.
How you handle these “merged scenes” is up to you. Here are some suggestions.
You could copy the Synopsis from Lola Arrives into the first card in the Main Storyline, make an appropriate annotation in both cards (so you don’t forget), and be done with it.
Alternatively, you could do what I did. I created a “Merged Storyline” (yellow) and slid the two scenes over to it. Then, in the Binder, I moved the second scene “inside” (into) the first–you’ll see it indented in the Binder, and as a stack of cards in the corkboard.
Here’s my final arrangement. (Look at both the Binder and the Corkboard view to see the relationships.)
FYI: I added a “Lola and Walter Love Scene” for the adult version of the story. Novels contains dozens of scenes, many of which are not one of the seven plot points. Additional scenes like this are common in a big work.
For completeness, here’s the Outline view (below). The relationship of the first two scenes, with the second one nested inside the first, is visible in the central editor as well as in the Binder. Also, the metadata columns are visible in the editor’s view and we can see that both scenes are the “Hook” (plot point) for their respective storylines.
Additionally, I combined “Walter Sees ‘His One True Love'” into “Lola Arrives” merging the “Hook” and “Turn 1” scenes in the Romance Storyline. (I re-edited the metadata to add that selection.)
It’s up to the writer to hook the reader’s interest.
The Three Act structure with its Beginning, Middle, and End has been found to be one of the things that consistently works to help hold reader (or viewer) attention.
More recently, the Seven Point System has been found to provide a finer degree of control (manipulation!) of the reader’s interests within the Three Act structure.
With multiple storylines, shuffling 3×5 cards (I staple scene cards together if I want to “blend” them–works great!) and shifting them around with Scrivener’s Arrange by Label lets you see what’ll work best for you.
Applying these structures to a work, either before or after the writing, will make it more successful.
Let’s say we just want to create a simple book, nothing fancy, with Scrivener. We have three chapters named In The Beginning, The Middle, and It End’th.
In the first chapter, we have two scenes, one to get the action going, and a second in which all Hell breaks loose. (It writerly terms, that second scene is called the Inciting Event, but we’re not doing story structure today.) The second chapter has one scene, and the last chapter has a climax (scene) followed by a denouement (scene).
Note: The steps and screenshots that follow are for Scrivener 3.2.2 on a MacBook running MacOS Big Sur 11.2. If you have a different version or platform, some adjustments may be needed.
In Scrivener, the binder might look like this. (By keeping the scenes separate from each other and tucked under the chapters, we have more flexibility should we, for example, decide to move the scenes around.)
For brevity, here’s the outline view of this project.
Notice the two right-hand columns, Section Type and Words.
The Words column specifies the number of words in each item’s “text” area. Notice that the three chapter folders contain 28, 17, and 13 words, respectively. Those are the quotations we want to appear at the beginning of each chapter. They are typed into the text area of the chapter entries in the Binder and are styled (formatted) to Block Quotation for the actual quote, and Attribution for who said or wrote it.
The Section Type column indicates what Scrivener thinks this thing is. Think of the Section Type as a structural element. The beginning of each chapter is set to Chapter Hea[ding] above, and the individual scenes have a Section Type of Scene. These mappings can be set by Scrivener according to the document’s structure as we did in this example, or you can set them by hand.
Here’s the Scrivenings view so you can see the contents (in the editor) of the first chapter with its two scenes, and the beginning of the second chapter.
The quotation from Dr. Oppenheimer is in the text-portion of the “In the Beginning” chapter folder. The words beginning with “Class aptent taciti” are in the “An Innocent Beginning” scene. And, in the Scrivenings view above, the dashed line marks the division before the second “The World Changes” scene. (The dashed line is what’s used in the editor. In the compiled output, however, it might be a different “separator.”)
The second quotation is from Woody Allen and is the text of “The Middle” chapter folder.
Now, let’s say we want to print our book at one of the print-for-hire services. For that, we’ll need a “paperback” output in PDF format.
We click Compile in Scrivener, uncheck the box for Add front matter in the bottom-right corner (simply because we haven’t written it yet), select the Paperback (6″ x 9″) format (bottom-left) and, for the test, the Print setting at the top-center. We leave everything else at its default value.
Here’s page one of the hardcopy.
It tells us this is chapter “1” and is followed by the text of the two scenes.
Note the double-space in the middle of the page: that’s the default separator between the scenes in the paperback format. Also notice that the first paragraph of each scene is not indented. Again, these are from the default style for 6×9″ paperbacks.
But neither the title nor the quotation in the folder were printed! For the paperback Compile Format we chose, they are turned off.
To make them to appear, we need to change a tiny little bit of the Compile Format for paperbacks. But doing so would change all paperbacks we create from then on so, rather than changing the “default” format for paperbacks, we’ll copy it and then make our own changes. In essence, we will then have our own, personalized, format for paperbacks.
This action of copying one Compile Format to act as a starter for a new one is so common that Scrivener makes it extremely easy.
Click Compile to see the list and then double-click the Paperback 6×9 Compile Format. Scrivener will tell us that it’s going to create a copy of this Compile Format, and, in the next screen, it’ll ask us to give it a name. Something like My Paperback (6″ x 9″) might be one suggestion.
FYI: I used DeleteMe2 to remind myself it was created for this web post, and I could safely throw it away later. I use similar names for all my experiments to keep from cluttering up non-experimental works that needs to be saved forever.
Once the new Compile Format is created, double-click it, locate the Chapter Heading line in the right-hand box and checkmark title and text. You’ll see the result below. Check-marking these two boxes tells Scrivener to include the title and text from the chapter folders in the output. (If you clicked Save before adding the check-marks, simply double-click your newly-named compile format to see this screen again.)
What you are looking at is one part of a Compile Format description. It describes which parts of each of your Binder entries will appear (if checkmarked) in the output and, for each, what font, point size, and other formatting attributes should be used.
The other part of a Compile Format is not seen here. It maps the parts of your text to the Section Layouts described below such as Chapter Heading and Section Text. You’ll see that area just after clicking Compile if you then click the Assign Section Layouts button (near the bottom-center). But don’t go there yet.
Notice that only two lines in this area of the Compile Format are in bold-face: Chapter Heading and Section Text. That means that only those two Section Layouts are being used. The first is applied to the chapter items (in the Binder) and the second is applied to the scenes.
If we save this and then compile, page one will now have our chapter quotation and attribution.
Here’s a markup of the correspondence of the Binder to the compiled output.
Here are three important terms you’ll encounter in Scrivener when compiling a book in a specific format.
Compile Format is the big category that says, for example, what a 6×9″ standard paperback book looks like. It sets the page size, margins, fonts to be used for titles and text, paragraph indentations, separators between sections, where page breaks should occur, and so on. A different Compile Format will specify how a manuscript should appear: double-spaced, one-inch margins, Courier 10 point font, etc. And another Compile Format would describe a hard cover book for a Harry Potter novel. There would probably be a different Compile Format for the latest thriller from John Sandford. Compile Formats contain many Section Layouts, and they are where the real work takes place.
A Section Layout specifies how one particular part of a book should appear. There will be a Section Layout for chapter beginnings and a different Section Layout for the text of a chapter such as we saw in this example. You’ll sometimes also find Section Layout names for Scrivener-unique parts such as Metadata, Synopsis, and Notes. These Section Layouts were created by someone at Literature & Latte, the company that makes Scrivener, and are used in the Compile Formats provided by them if you turn on printing of those parts of your Scrivener work. Section Layouts also specify separators, for example the blank line used to separate scenes, page size and font information, how footnotes and comments should be handled, and also the special “fiddly bits” of PDF versus RTF or HTML or EBooks should be done.
A Section Type, the third and final part of this trio of special terms, is tagged to each part of your book. You can apply these by hand to each item in the manuscript (or Draft) portion of your Binder, or you can let Scrivener make the Section Type assignments based on your Binder’s structure. In this example, I let Scrivener do it. Scrivener assigned the chapters to Chapter Heading, and the individual scenes were mapped to Section Text by Scrivener.
When a book is compiled, we choose a Compile Format (6×9 paperback, manuscript, etc.) in addition to the type of output file (docx, PDF, plain text, etc.). The compilation process then takes each part of our book and, according to each item’s Section Type, looks up its Section Layout (in the Compile Format) and includes or excludes it parts (title, text, synopsis, notes, etc.) and formats the output accordingly.
This process of mapping your Section Type to a Section Layout is specified in the Compile Format you select.
Think of the Compile Format and its Section Layout descriptions as the “look and feel” for the finished book. Each part of your text in Scrivener has a Section Type. During the compile, each part of your text is mapped to a layout according to the dictates of the Compile Format.
This a big step up from Microsoft Word’s WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) world. We’ve graduated from letter writing to the world of commercial publishing!
Scrivener’s Compile is a remarkably sophisticated book generator. It contains many dozen options and can format your text for many different purposes. While few, if any, users will master all of these publication features, a little bit of cautious experimentation will show you how to accomplish wonders.
If you submit your book to an agent or a publisher, they will want a “manuscript format” copy. Scrivener provides a couple of “compile formats” for that purpose. Whether or not you insert quotations in the chapter folder as I did or put them in an existing scene and format them to your wishes are completely up to you.
Some agents might want manuscripts in electronic rather than hardcopy format. Microsoft Word (.docx) is a common file format for this and Scrivener provides that option in the Compile for choice. Other agents might want a PDF. That’s a different Compile for selection but uses the same Compile Format.
Or, if you are going to self-publish, you might generate the Paperback 6×9 format output and find a printing company to make the paper books. And, depending on the file format they want, you can Compile for a .docx or PDF or just about anything else they might want.
Do this: Take three books at random off your reading shelf and look at the first page of the first chapter in each.
Odds are each book will look different. Some will have numbered chapters. Some will include chapter names. Others will have quotes. The title fonts and sizes will be different as may be the text as well. In Scrivener terms, each of those books would have its own Compile Format.
Publishers go to great lengths to make each book look different. If that publisher prints a hardcopy and then, a year later, decides to add a paperback edition, (in Scrivener) the paperback would be yet another Compile Format.
If you think of a Compile Format as what a fully-finished book looks like, that’s a very good approximation. Paperbacks look different than hard copies. Web pages and e-books are also different, and yet all four could have the same text content. In Scrivener, that’d be one project compiled in four different ways, by four different Compile Formats.
(In Microsoft Word, you’d have to manually re-format for each of the outputs. That’d take hours and probably need several passes to get everything right. And if you then go back and change one word—remember: there is no last typo!—you’d then have to go and make the same change in every re-formatted copy. But once you have a Compile Format defined in Scrivener, you simply apply it over and over. Fix the typo once and re-compile four times, once for each output format. Easy-peasy!)
Scrivener gives you the ability to generate a book from your text in many formats and styles, from submissions to agents, to hardcovers, paperbacks, e-books, and web pages. In doing so, it also provides a portal to the enormously complex world of book publishing.
Take your time as you begin to explore all that you can do in this incredibly flexible part of Scrivener!