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My immediate takeaway was that our approaches are similar and this is encouraging. Each writer is indeed different, as Matt points out, however we have the same challenges and thus there's a lot I'm prepared to learn.
Apps like Scrivener and Ulysses encourage authors to break up large projects. It's the difference between cutting up a T-bone steak and systematically eating it with a knife and fork versus eating it whole with your fingers like a caveman. Both ways will get the job done, but far out, I know which way I'd rather tackle it.
Matt uses Ulysses because it better-fits his iPad-only environment. Ulysses for iOS enjoys feature parity with the macOS version whereas Scrivener for iOS does not. Since, I am still wedded to the Mac I'm happy to divide my time accordingly -- at least for this book.
Regardless, this is a discussion about structure and process rather than a discussion of tools. Matt rightly points out that his methodology works on both applications, and I'm fairly confident that mine does too.
So what can I add to the topic? Well, I can show you how I tackle novels with Scrivener. I can show you what a 200,000-word fantasy epic looks like. I can show you how I include my world-building files and lastly how I've dealt with more than 10 years of rewrites.
Here's what it looks like in Scrivener for iOS
- Inbox is my dumping ground where I import notes, scene snippets, bits of dialogue and so on
- Typically these are imported from outside Scrivener either written quickly in Apple Notes on my phone, or emailed to myself from work
- Stuff in here gets triaged, formatted and then actioned or deleted as needed
- Front Matter as in Matt's system it contains the titles, dedications, acknowledgements etc.
- Manuscript contains all the chapters and scenes in my book. Chapters are folders, scenes are documents.
- Previous Editions contain a complete history of my novels version going back to 2004.
- Notes holds both a general bucket of ideas and thoughts as well as material and scenes I've jettisoned from the MS.
- Quite frankly this repository is a mess; I've still got crap in there imported from my old Palm Pilots (that's how old this project file is)
- One thing I like about Matt's approach is his Unused Scenes folder and in my next book, I'll adopt this practice.
- World holds my setting's world-building files and the displayed subfolders should be fairly obvious as to what is contained within.
- After spending far to much energy and brainpower on databases, wikis, DIY python-powered apps, I've settled on just using Scrivener.
- This work wasn't a complete waste of time however, and I still use a combination of templates and Python to generate some aspects of world-building as a time-saving device
- Research contains all the third-party material I've collected as well as several of my own essays from my student days.
- Templates is self-explanatory. It stores the document template I use to create Character and Location sheets for the World folder.
What's not shown are the many collections I use on the macOS version of Scrivener. The view in macOS is rather different.
What I've learnt from Matt
What I like about Matt's approach, and will likely adopt, is:
- The unused scene's bucket
- The idea of storing correspondence (i.e. with his cover designer)
- The Journal to document his personal thoughts while on the journey.
Reflecting on process (your own and others) is a valuable exercise. My project is a kludge that predates my adoption of Scrivener in 2007. I've made many mistakes and learnt a lot that I've applied to other projects3
Because this project is so old, and predates Scrivener 2, my set up doesn't reflect what I regard as best practice. I haven't utilised Scrivener 2 to the best of its abilities as I have on newer, smaller projects. As you can imagine, I'm very much looking forward to finishing and moving on not least for the opportunity to start with a cleaner base.