Another Scrivener question
July 2, 2019 8:32 PM   Subscribe

How does one organize duplicate data under different thematics in Scrivener? For example, John Doe taught the first American History course at Smith College. I want 1 file for John Doe as a character, 1 file for American History, and 1 file for Smith College because in the final text, parts of these 3 topics will intersect in different combinations, not in a linear way. What tool in Scrivener should I be using? My book is non-fiction and uses a massive (and unorganized) oral history doc as its backbone.
posted by Jason and Laszlo to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I use Scrivener. However, for what you are wanting to do, I would consider software for qualitative coding. Then you can tag individual words/phrases/sentences/paragraphs etc. in your original document -- so say you have the tags (Called codes in qual coding) for "John Doe" "American History" "Smith College" etc. etc. in your document and then use the software to pull up anything that is tagged both "John Doe" and "American History" in your document. Or say anything tagged both "John Doe and Jane Smith", or things tagged "John Doe" near things tagged "drunken debauchery" or whatever.

The two big programs for this are NVivo and Atlas.Ti, but both cost big bucks. Here is a list of free or cheap software for qualitative coding.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:45 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]

Are you saying you want 3 identical files that you can call up when you search for any of those 3 labels? Or that you want information from 3 different files to intersect? In which case you could use Scrivener's labeling function to denote a color "John Doe's history class at Smith" and label everything having to do with it with that label. There may be a way to use multiple labels on single files, as well. Alternately, perhaps you could create some DIY labels in the "synopsis" or "notes" part of each file.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 8:55 PM on July 2

a massive (and unorganized) oral history doc

A qualitative coding app would do this much better, this is explicitly what they are for. You basically go through your document with a highlighter of a sort and select everything on a topic and assign it codes, then you can pull up reports by topic and see everything in those codes. It is really a marvelous experience and you start to see patterns you can't really just eyeball. I only have experience with NVivo (using an institutional subscription, are you at a school?) but you could check out the list above.
posted by epanalepsis at 9:02 AM on July 3

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