“Give Me A Break” — Better Pacing with Scrivener.

Tony Ollivier
4 min readFeb 1, 2021

Scrivener is a tool for writers with a singular focus. It’s not for publishing, layout, or for creating fancy newsletters; it’s for writing. All the scenes, outlines, character maps, pictures, resource and anything else you can think of goes into your Scrivener project. No longer will you be searching folders on your computer for the last draft of a scene or a snippet of a character arc — everything can be managed in Scrivener.

A couple of years ago when I was editing my first novel — The Amsterdam Deception, a beta reader suggested I needed to tune the pacing. I couldn’t only have my protagonist racing from conflict to conflict. I needed to sprinkle in some catch-your-breath scenes after rising action. While I found a few examples on how to pace with Scrivener, I wanted to learn if the metadata feature in Scrivener could help me better track the level of action in my scenes.

Metadata in Scrivener is a feature that allows me to additional information outside of my writing. I might track time, location, setting, or subplots. It’s up to the author to determine what to track.

First, I added a couple of metadata fields: Characters and Tension. This allowed me to provide structured information in every scene that sat outside the writing.

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Second, I reviewed each scene and added a tension number between 1 and 12. My choice was arbitrary; the number could refer to tension, action, threat or conflict. If I was writing a romance, the number could refer to romantic tension.

Rising and Falling

Once I’d attached a tension number to all my scenes, I wanted to visualize the pacing.

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Going to the Outline view, (you need to resize the window to bring the other columns into view), I added the two new fields I created; Characters and Tension.