How to Use Scrivener's Cork Board

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, chances are likely that you know my love of flashcards. Or rather, my love of plotting with flashcards. For me, flashcards to plotting is the cheese to my macaroni (that is to say, yum). 

So now that I’ve officially written a full manuscript from first plot bullet to final polished word in Scrivener, I’d like to share with you my favorite feature of all time: the cork board.

The cork board is actually the feature that sold me as far as buying Scrivener goes, and what I love about it is that it allows me to combine my plotting with flashcards method that I’ve grown to adore over the years, with the simplicity and beautiful organization of the computer. (Plus the lack of cramping hands is a pretty nice bonus, too).

So when you open up the cork board view in Scrivener, it looks a little like this:

Or rather, it looks like that if you have some plot points and blurry Photoshop magic at your disposal. But you get the idea.

On the left, you have a list of all of the flashcards on the board. Every flashcard can be titled, with a little summary section that you can fill in while plotting. I use this to lay out my initial plot long before I’ve written a single word in the WIP.

As you write up flashcards, you can move them around, re-title them, delete them, or label them. The manuscript in the screenshot above is a dual-POV MS, so I repurposed the labels to mark the POVs of my two POV characters, which allowed me to keep an eye on the distribution of the POV while plotting and changing things around later on.

Once you’ve finished plotting and you’re ready to start writing, you can open up each flashcard to look like this:

The great thing about Scrivener is that it works in scenes, so every flashcard you open up and type in will be saved in that card. If you decide during revisions that you need to move a scene earlier or later, you can easily do so by going back to the cork board (or using the menu on the left) and dragging it to where it’s supposed to be. For anyone who’s had to cut and paste a scene from one section of an MS Word doc to another, I promise you this is a million and two times easier.

So that’s basically it. Scrivener’s cork board is simple, the organization is beautiful, and quite frankly, I hope to never have to plot without it again.

Have you played around with Scrivener’s cork board feature? If so, what did you think? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Not sure how to use Scrivener's cork board? Writer @Ava_Jae shares her love for this great plotting tool. (Click to tweet)  
Do you use Scrivener's cork board feature? Share your experience at @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet


Char Newcomb said...

I'm using Scrivener for my current WIP and really like how you're applying labels for denote POV. I can get the color to show up on the corkboard, but not on the sidebar scene titles. How did you do that? I'm using a MAC.

I love the Synopsis & Notes features. I use the notes for things I want to fact check, reminders about points I want to include, or references to past scenes. It is so easy to page through if I need to go back to check something.

Ava Jae said...

I use a Mac too, so hopefully this should be easy to explain...

Basically, all I do to get the labels is right click one of the titles (in the sidebar in the left) then choose "Label" and choose a label. I renamed my labels by going into Label > Edit... and customizing my label colors and changing the title to POV, so I can use my labels to keep track of my POVs. And that's all there is to it! :)

I'm not sure I know what you're referring to with the Synopsis feature...but I do know I need to try to use the Notes feature more often.

RoweMatthew said...

But if each part is on a corkboard card, when you want to have the full manuscript, don't you have to copy and paste everything into one space?

I keep getting tempted by Scrivener, but I loathe buying programs when there are so many free ones. I have a good one on my ipad that allows you to write scene outlines separately and move them about freely. I then follow that and write the full manuscript in Pages.

Ava Jae said...

Nope! The awesome thing about Scrivener is that when it's time to export, it compiles everything for you. And if you want to see the whole MS together before exporting, there's a feature for that too that shows you the whole MS put together, where you can write and edit and the changes will be reflected in the respective separate scenes. :)
Of course it's not free, but if you participate and win NaNoWriMo, you can get a pretty decent discount. Or at least, that was part of the prize last year...

RoweMatthew said...

Sounds alright. I might go for it then. I find writing in Pages just fine but editing is a bit tricky sometimes!

Ava Jae said...

I don't mind writing in Pages (or MS Word for that matter), either. But I've come to really love working in Scrivener. I'd say download the free trial, watch a few tutorial videos, and see if you like it. If not, you haven't lost anything. :)

RoweMatthew said...

I decided to splash out since the compiling feature alone will save me a lot of time and having all my research and inspiring pictures more easily organized and accessible is a great opportunity. I just have to import all my notes from evernote, which it doesn't support of course! Oh well, looking forward to better writing now

Ava Jae said...

Yeah, I'm not sure about the Evernote support, but I'm glad you decided to give it a try! Enjoy! :D

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