Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Tech Tuesday: Getting Your Outline into Scrivener (pt 2)

In last week’s post, we saw how you can import an OPML outline directly into Scrivener. For those of us who use an outliner for more than the barest-bones plotting, it’s rather limiting. Fortunately, Scrivener has another way to import. It requires an extra step, but Tines (the console-mode outliner I use and maintain) can do the work.

So let’s go…

No Extensions Required

OPML entries have a type attribute associated with them. The standard deliberately leaves the content of type undefined, except it’s some kind of text to describe the entry.

Tines supports two type definitions: "todo," to give an entry a checkbox, and "text" to mark entries as content (non-text entries are assumed to be headings). Tines assigns the F3 key to toggle between text and heading types. A lowercase t to the left of the bullet gives a visual indication. So now, let’s add some more info to the first scene:

Nothing like a little slapstick to start a story, huh?
Note the t at the beginning of each entry under Scene 1. Those are text entries. Other entries will become documents in Scrivener.

Now here’s where the magic happens. In Tines 1.10, there’s an Export->XSLT function that allows exporting through xsltproc. Since OPML and Tines’s native hnb format are XML files, it’s easy to convert them to just about anything. Press ESC to bring up the menu, and go to the File menu…

Changes to the look and feel are due to experiments with the configuration.

Scroll down to Export->XSLT, press Return, then press M at the next prompt to choose Markdown. When prompted, enter a name for the Markdown file (I used storymap.md). If you want, have a look at the Markdown file to see how it does things—a # character at the beginning of a line is a heading, and the number of # characters says what level heading it is. Other lines are body text. Easy, huh?

Now let’s load it into Scrivener. There’s two ways to do that.

Import and Split

I don’t really recommend using File→Import→Import and Split. It works as advertised, importing your Markdown file and splitting it up, but it doesn’t build a hierarchy. It might be useful for importing an outlined chapter into an existing project.

Import as MultiMarkdown

MultiMarkdown is, as one might guess, an extended version of Markdown. Since it’s an extension, you can import plain Markdown as MultiMarkdown without a problem. So try File→Import→MultiMarkdown File instead. Here’s how it looks:

Now this looks pretty close to what we want! Everything is in a nice hierarchy, content is content, and we’re ready to get the story knocked out.

Until next time… keep writing, and keep geeking!

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