One of the things I struggle with is continuity. For example, in chapter two I might describe the staff of a character, and refer to it and it’s properties many times in a novel. Making sure that I don’t change it over the course of a year of writing is challenging. I currently use A/S’s notes feature to record every instance of it’s use by chapter/subchapter. It sort-of works, but it’s not a great solution. What I’d love to have would be the ability to add a bookmarks, but not exactly like Word. As I envision it each bookmark would have a title (The Staff), some editable descriptive text (Crowther’s fighting staff has the properties of… and looks like…), and a series of clickable links to places in the text I’ve selected that refer to it. It would be displayed in a hierarchical manner rather like the Research tree. Now that I think on it more, one way to implement it would be to allow links to text in the Research tree.
There’s a lot of complexity to linking directly into the text — one of the reasons I haven’t done any work in that area yet. But I can see how useful it would be.
What you’re describing isn’t really a bookmark, it sounds like an object — which could be an actual object, a character, a location… Something or someone referred to in the text that has attributes, coupled with a way to see every occurrence or mention of that object, and possibly to change the attribute everywhere by changing it once.
This would be a very big undertaking. In one form or another it comes up on discussion boards for every writing app. I’ve seen it on the Scrivener forums a few times. So far, no one (app) to my knowledge has bitten the bullet and implemented it.
It sounds like you given it some serious thought! You might be able to simplify it by keeping track only of scenes where a bookmark object has been inserted, and a sequence number within the scene (Bookmark X,Scene #5, 2nd instance). Then use a standard search within scene 5 for the 2nd instance of the bookmark object. Keeping track of a movable location would be a real challenge as you mentioned, but this method would avoid that problem. It would be slightly slower, but probably not significant on a human timescale.
And, of course, A/S would get a leg up on the competition…
Robert, I solve this issue with a separate cheat sheet for some time. Every issue has a separate paragraph. For example, a paragraph about a person’s description (name, hair, color of eyes, handicaps like limping, etc,).
I manage this in Word as a master file, and convert it to PDF. The master (Word) is only used for modification or adding content.
The PDF has its navigation panel shown with bookmarks for each item, and is open in the background when writing. This way, the info is only two mouse clicks away (opening the minimized PDF, selecting the needed bookmark).
The principle works just fine and can be applied in various ways. Using it with AS gives me full control w/o an additional, complex feature.
BTW, the same principle can be applied using a sole spreadsheet instead of Word converted to PDF.
I use this separate file method too and it is easy to do. I think it would be faster, actually, since you’ll have the absolute description/issue there to refer to when writing so it’s accurate as you write it instead of having to go back through your rough draft to check all instances.
Yes, I’ve also used cheat sheets, Word, and Excel to track continuity in the past. If you’re using A/S though, I suggest using the Research pane instead. It can hold that type of information and have it on screen at the same time as your scene.
What I’m talking about here is the next level above that: Having continuity research linked with specific locations in text. That way you can go back and make continuity adjustments without having to search or read all preceding text to make sure you catch it all.