Three Tips for Using the Scrivener Corkboard

(This post assumes you’re already using Scrivener. If you haven’t made the leap yet, check out my post “5 Reasons You Should Be Using Scrivener.”)

It took me a while to understand the value of the Scrivener corkboard. It was frustrating at first, because I’m a visual person, and I love using note cards in real life, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with the digital version. That was before I learned three little tricks that made the corkboard work for me.

Corkboard Viewer

To get started, you’ll need to know how to get into the corkboard viewer. In Scrivener, you have three options for how to view any given project. You can toggle between the options by clicking here. The middle option will give you the corkboard viewer.

Scrivener Corkboard

Now for those three tricks…

Trick #1: Scrivener can fill in the synopsis of each scene for you.

When you switch to view the corkboard, you’ll see a card for each scene, along with the title of each scene, but you won’t see any of the scene’s content. So you can either write a short synopsis on your own, or you can have Scrivener do it for you (yes, please). Just click on the scene in the binder (the column on the left), go to Menu -> Documents -> Auto-generate Synopsis.

Scrivener Corkboard

In truth, it’s less of a synopsis, and more a duplicate of the first paragraph of the scene, but for me it’s enough.

Once you have a synopsis for each scene, your corkboard will look something like this:

Scrivener Corkboard

Trick #2: You can do every scene in one shot.

You can transform a corkboard of blank cards to a very basic summary of your story by first highlighting every scene (by holding down the shift key and clicking), and then executing the steps in trick #1. Boom. A Synopsis for every scene in about 3 seconds.

Trick #3: You can change how they look

For me, this was the thing that really made the corkboard useful. Down there at the bottom of the Scrivener window, you’ll see options for formatting how your cards display.

Scrivener Corkboard
By playing with your options here, you can really start to customize the corkboard in a way that works for you.

And if you’re on a Mac, you can click that center option and really have some fun.

This little button allows you to move cards around in free-form, and for me, this is the moment when Scrivener beats out my paper notecards, because not only can I move things around in a highly organic way, but I can save them, so there’s no risk of the dog messing up my precious work when I step away for half a second.

Here’s what it looks like:

Scrivener Corkboard

As soon as you start moving things around, an option will appear to “Commit Order.”

Scrivener Corkboard

And when you click there, you can chose how Scrivener will reorder your binder, based on how you’ve arranged things:

Scrivener Corkboard

Of course, you can always reorganize the binder by simply dragging and dropping chapters up and down the columns on the left, but for those of us who like to be able to spread things out in front of us, the corkboard function can be really useful.

Do you use the corkboard format for your writing in Scrivener? Do you have any little tricks that you love?

4 Responses to Three Tips for Using the Scrivener Corkboard

  1. Melanie July 26, 2017 at 6:11 am #

    Thanks SO much for this post. I cannot believe how much time you just saved me. You star!

    • April July 31, 2017 at 6:38 am #

      Oh, I’m so excited to hear it! I’m a firm believer that technology is no good if it sucks up the time that we should be spending on our writing. Cheers!

      • Chris August 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm #

        Thank you very much for this amazing post. And you’re 100% right; if technology takes up our time , why bother?

        • April August 17, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

          Yeah, if we’re not careful it can just suck up all our time and leave us feeling frustrated. Glad the post was helpful!

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