Making Scrivener a touch more useful

I’m putting the final polish on a thriller. After one of my readers (who’s a writer I respect) suggested my pacing needed some tuning.  As in, I needed to have some catch-your-breath scenes after rising action. I found a few examples on pacing and Scrivener like here ->  but I wanted to learn the meta data feature in Scrivener to see if I could make it more useful.

First, I added a couple of fields: Characters and Tension

I then went through each scene and added a relative tension number – between 1 and 12.  This number is completely arbitrary as it could mean tension, action, threat etc.  In a romance, you could use this for romantic tension.

Then I went to the Outline view ( you will have to resize the window to bring the other columns into view


And then show the two new fields you created.


This gives you a view of scenes/characters/tension


Then FILE-> export


Now things get a little tricky as Scrivener doesn’t yet have any kind of a way to number scenes.

Open the CSV file in Excel or Open Office or any other spreadsheet program and do some cleanup.

Add a scene number to each scene ( 1,2,3 etc) then  Remove all the columns EXCEPT for the scene # and Tension

It’s a little more manual at this point.

In excel DELETE each row that is NOT a scene ( it might be a name of a folder or chapter)

Make sure the row below moves up as you delete the previous row.

Your spreadsheet should start to look like this.

2014-09-21 17_12_59-outline tension.xlsx - Excel

Then make a chart with the scene number as the Horizontal access and the Tension as the vertical access to get this.

2014-09-21 17_18_34-outline tension.xlsx - Excel

Although not an exact science, thinking about pacing in a thriller gave me a more visual view of what’s happening in the story as well as the rising action!.




About Tony Ollivier

Author, Writer, Editor and most days a technologist,
This entry was posted in pacing, Scrivener, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Making Scrivener a touch more useful

  1. Interesting idea – thanks for sharing. Could also be used to track humor or some other attribute.


  2. Oooh, another way to geek out! Great idea. Charting tension is a good way too see if your story lags or doesn’t take enough breaths.

    I literally just started using Scrivener today and I like it already.


  3. Jack Remick says:

    This is a fine start to a blog, Tony. I can see the traffic building as you post more of your insights and practices. Keep them coming.


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