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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
As soon as you start moving things around, an option will appear to “Commit Order.”
And when you click there, you can chose how Scrivener will reorder your binder, based on how you’ve arranged things:
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.