Outlining Your Novel in Scrivener's Corkboard View

Outlining Your Novel is Scrivener's Corkboard via ShesNovel.com

Welcome to week 4 of the Story Writing with Scrivener mini-series! You don't necessarily have to go through these posts in order, but if you'd like here is Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3.

All caught up? Great!

This week, we're talking about how to outline your novel in Scrivener’s Corkboard View. First things first, after working with the Binder last week you may be wondering how to view all of the documents in a folder at once. Doing so would allow you to easily organize, outline, and monitor your work.

How can you easily view your documents?

There are three ways that you can go about this, and you can find each option in the header toolbar above your main Scrivener window. You must first click on the icon of the folder you wish to open in the Binder. 

Then, you can click on one of the following three options to view the contents of that folder:


1) Scrivenings Mode. Your first option is to view the folder documents in Scrivenings mode. Scrivenings mode is indicated by the left icon featuring three sheets of paper. Scrivenings mode temporarily compiles all of the documents within your folder into one long text document. Seperate documents are indicated by a thin line.

Scrivenings mode is fantastic for streamlining your editing process, but it doesn’t do much for you in the way outlining.

2) The Outliner. The Outliner can be opened using the right-hand drop down list icon. The Outliner acts as a sort of expanded Binder view, showing all of the subfolders and documents in your folder. It also displays any synopses and meta-data you may have created for each document.

You would think from the name that the Outliner is the best place in Scrivener to outline your novel, but most of the Outliner’s capabilities you already utilized when you organized your Binder.

3) Corkboard View. If you want to get the ultimate outlining experience, then the Corkboard View is where you want to be. Indicated by the center icon, a brown rectangle, the Corkboard View allows you to see all of your documents and sub-folders as note cards that can easily be written on and re-pinned throughout the board.


Working With Corkboard View

You can create new document note cards by clicking on the paper plus icon in the left corner of the main window footer bar or by holding down control/command > N. Likewise, you can create a new sub-folder icon by clicking the folder plus icon in the footer bar or by holding down control/command > shift > N.


If you already have a note card selected when you create a new card, the new card will appear as the next card in line. However, if you don’t have any cards selected, the new card will appear as the last card on the board. To delete a card, simply select the card and click the red circle in your header toolbar. You can also select the card and press delete or right click and select ‘Move to Trash’.

You can move note cards around the Corkboard by clicking on their icon in the upper left hand corner of the card and dragging them to your desired destination. You can also give each card a title by double-clicking the area above the red line and typing up your desired name. This will be the name of the document and it will appear in your Binder.


You can also give each card a synopsis by double clicking the area below the red line and typing up your desired note. This note will also appear under the Synopsis section of the Inspector. We haven’t talked about the Inspector yet in this series, but it appears as the right column in your Scrivener screen.

If there is no right column, you can open up the Inspector by clicking on the blue ‘I’ circle all the way to the right in your header toolbar or by going to View > Layout > Inspector.


Corkboard Options

If you are unhappy with the way your Corkboard looks, there are plenty of ways that you can switch up its appearance. The quickest option is to click on the Corkboard Options icon in the right corner of your main window footer toolbar. The icon should appear as four grey rectangles. Clicking on this brings up a little window where you can adjust several of your Corkboard features.


1) Size. By dragging the Size bar, you can rearrange the size of your note cards.

2) Ratio. By adjusting the Ratio, you can change the length and width of your note cards, creating more or less space for your synopses.

3) Spacing. The Spacing bar adjusts the amount of empty space between your cards.

4) Cards Across. Here you can choose how many cards you would like to appear in the rows of your Corkboard.

5) Keyword Chips. We haven’t talked about assigning keywords to documents yet, but Keyword Chips lets you decide how many keyword indicators you would like to appear on your cards.

6) Size to Fit Editor. If you’ve selected a specific number of keywords you’d like to appear in each row of your Corkboard view, then clicking Size to Fit Editor will automatically adjust them to fit the width of your screen.

7) Use Small Font. The Use Small Font option allows you to utilize a smaller font on your note cards so that you can view longer titles and synopses.


You can view even more Corkboard options by going to View > Corkboard Options. Here you can select whether you want to view labels (which we'll talk about in greater detail in a later post), statuses, and keyword colors on each card.

Statuses are an especially helpful feature to have selected. You can change the status of each card by right clicking on it, hovering over Status, and then selecting the appropriate status.

This status should appear as an overlay on your note cards, allowing you to easily see what work needs to be done for each document.

If you are using Scrivener for Mac, you can go even further with your Corkboard options by going to Scrivener > Preferences > Corkboard Options.


Let's Chat!

I love using the Corkboard mode to outline my novel because you can easily rearrange scenes and chapters with a simple click and drag. What other features have gotten you hooked on the Corkboard mode?

If you have any questions concerning the Corkboard or the rest of the Scrivener program, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or hit me up on social media. I love helping you fall just as much in love with Scrivener as I am!


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