Writing

Quick Scrivener tip: counting scenes

When I was writing The Killing I knew that structure was going to be important. This was a massive work and it had to be divided into parts, days and individual scenes. But I wanted to keep an eye on the length of those parts.

Simple solution: count the number of scenes in each part. And yes, Scrivener can do this for you like this.

But you won’t get that information out of the box. Go into Preferences, Appearance and choose Binder: Shows subdocument counts.

Now you’ll get the counts you see in the first screenshot. Note that The Killing has 526 scenes in all (including the short epigraph). The manuscript count at the top does not include anything outside the manuscript such as character, places and research information.

PS. I keep my sub documents in folders. But if you make your documents sub to another document I think this works too… though I don’t so I haven’t checked.

Update. Do please read the important caveat added by Sean C. in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Quick Scrivener tip: counting scenes

  1. Worth noting, though, that the total count – the 526 – includes the section folders within ‘Manuscript’ as well. If you tally up the individual section counts they come in at 514. It’s a pain if you have (as I did with Murder Park) a *lot* of sections with anywhere from 1-6 scenes/chapters inside.

    If you have subfolders within the ‘part x’ folders, the folder (‘day one’ etc.) will also be counted as an item along with the actual scenes inside them. So you’ll have to account for that as well.

    This:

    [Part 1]–
    — [Day 1]–
    — Scene 1
    — Scene 2
    — [Day 2]–
    — Scene 1

    would give you a count on the ‘Part 1′ folder of “5″ when in fact there are only 3 scenes in it. Scriv doesn’t discriminate between item types within folders/subfolders. If you could tell it to only count text files and nothing else it wouldn’t have the issue.

    Not that it’s not still useful, just that you have to adjust if you use a lot of folders for organisation within the manuscript.

  2. Well spotted Sean. I must admit I only use it as a very rough guide. I guess you could make it more accurate by making documents sub to another document and writing in that. But that always feels wrong to me so I stick with folders.

    Essentially I’m crap at counting and usually believe anything a computer tells me. All word processors differ in word counts for the same document too, as you may have noticed.

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