Toolbox 31: Let Me Introduce You to The Inspector

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


As most of you know, I use and love Scrivener. Mostly because helps me organize my work. But I also use The Inspector specifically for tracking what I’ve written. It is versatile.

Here’s what I do to fine tune The inspector.

You’d find The Inspector on the right side of the window. It can be turned on/off by clicking on the big i in the blue circle.

It’s broken down into sections: Synopsis, General Meta-Data + the bottom section that changes depending on what button is highlighted at the top.


Is a perfect place to write a logline for each chapter or a slice of your outline. πŸ˜‰

General Meta-Data:

  • Label: I tend to use this to follow my plot (& subplots), or on occasion POV characters. The color can be changed for each label, so that a quick look in The Binder (possibly another post) tells you where you’re heavy.
  • Status: On The Corkboard, I can easily see how close my project is to completion. Some status choices are: 1st draft, 2nd draft, before beta read, after beta, polished + notes only.

Note: Both, Label and Status, and their subtitles are edited through a separate window. To open it, click on the drop-down menu to the right of either Label or Status then click on edit.

  • The last three refer to the act of collecting and printing the WIP.
    • Include in Compile: Tick the box if you wish to include the scene in your printed project.
    • Page Break Before: Tick the box if you want to insert a page break before a chapter/scene.
    • Compile As-Is: In the compile section you can change the project’s formatting, however, if you prefer to format as you go tick this box.

The bottom section is controlled by the buttons at the top.

Right to left: Document Notes, Document References, Keywords, Custom Meta-Data, Snapshots, and Comments + Footnotes.

Document Notes (Project Notes):

When selected, there is a drop-down menu and you may choose between either Project Notes and Document Notes.

If it is not obvious, comments noted on the Project Notes can be accessed from anywhere within the project. Any notes on the Document Notes can only be accessed when on the associated page.

I think of this as my fix-it-later place. Learned this from NaNo, when I don’t want to stop and don’t want to forget what I’ll need to change later. I’m sure you’ve been there. πŸ˜‰

Document References (Project References):

Again you have the choice of a Document References or Project References from the drop-down menu. Further a long is a ‘+’ with a downward arrow to add an itemΒ  and a ‘-‘ to remove an item.

The choices are:

  1. Add Internal Reference: creates a link to another part of your project.
  2. Look Up + Add External Reference: creates a link to a file somewhere on your computer.
  3. Create External Reference: creates a link to a website.


No doubt you know how versatile keywords can be. Assign them to clues, characters, settings, or whatever you’d like.

You can add ‘+’, remove ‘-‘, or access all the Keywords within the project with the ‘gear wheel’.

Clicking on the gear wheel lets, you organize them within a hierarchy.

I assign a heading of characters, settings, items, clues and list the actual names of each underneath.

I tend to drag and drop them from the big list as I need them.

Custom Meta-Data:

At first glance it’s an empty space. You’ll want to change that. To the very right is a gear wheel. Click it and it opens the same window as before. You should see tabs: Label, Status, Custom Meta-Data, and Project Properties.

Once the window is open you can make a checklist of things you want to track using the ‘+’, ‘-‘. The up-arrow, and a down-arrow can move your list around.

What do you want to track? Timelines, Emotional level 1-5, Setting tags. It can be almost anything. For longer answers click the word-wrap button. If you like colors… Well, I think you know what to do.

Here’s my list.

If it’s not obvious, you fill in the blanks with your answers.

The Project Properties Tab:

Is where you can add your name, the project title, etc. This is primarily used when compiling. The entries are used in the header/footer of the resulting document.


Snapshots is another fave of mine. A quick back-up of any scene. Click the β€˜+’ and an exact copy is made. Each is saved with a date & time as well as a title. Don’t like how the revision went and want to start again. Rollback and its as if you didn’t do a thing.

I use this (along with Status) to track what I’ve done so far. Some titles of my Snapshots are: 1st Draft, Revision #, After Beta Read, etc.

Comments + Footnotes:

Comments + Footnotes are more for Non-Fiction. I rarely use them unless I want to check a fact in a sentence. Like I said sucky memory.

I’m hoping with the headings that you only hopped around the post. It’s much longer than my usual. Don’t mean to bore you, but hey, Scrivener is jam packed with possibilities.

Thanks for dropping by. If you have any questions, I’ll gladly share.

40 responses to “Toolbox 31: Let Me Introduce You to The Inspector

  1. Natalie Aguirre

    Great tips for those that use Scrivener. I still just write my documents in word.

    • And many do. I usually land up in MS Word once the research and most of the drafts are done. So there is no getting away from it… even for me. πŸ˜‰

  2. I’ve never heard of the Inspector. Sounds like a helpful tool. Is that inside of Scrivener or a stand alone product? Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow! Thank you! I haven’t had time to explore it as much as I’ve wanted to.

  4. What a wealth of information this post has! To be honest, I’m not familiar with this software (?), but I want to know more after reading your post.

  5. You’re certainly making Scrivener (and this feature) sound appealing. Thanks for sharing this tool!

  6. Thanks for sharing. So far, I’ve found Scrivener more complicated than what I’m already doing with Word and paper, but I may give it another try for a future project.

  7. Great tips! Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  8. Interesting! I write in Scrivener, mostly because the corkboard visual is super useful for me and I find it easy to re-arrange the order of chapters, etc. But I haven’t really taken advantage of any of these tools. Time for some learning!

  9. Wow, I’m always amazed by things writers are able to do with Scrivener, still, I’ve yet to try it. I know I’m set in my ways, but I never say never. It really does sound like a great tool.

  10. No one has succeeded in getting me to try Scrivener again, but you might just have done just that. I love the idea of being able to track the synopsis in morsels. Thanks, Anna!

  11. I’ve had Scrivener for a while now but, I have to admit, I probably don’t use it to its full potential. Thanks for the tips.

  12. Thanks for sharing info on the Inspector. I wasn’t familiar with it. You are a fount of information:)

  13. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    Wow! This sounds really helpful!

  14. I don’t use Scrivener, but this sounds appealing! I love the note-taking ability, especially since that is key to getting through a first draft without going back and revising too much.

  15. Victoria Marie Lees

    Seriously, Anna, I need to try some of these writing assisting tools. I’m afraid because I’m so tech challenged. I simply just write and create my stories. Yes, I have an outline of sorts. I need to know where I’m going and who is who and why. I always learn something new here. Thanks, Anna!

  16. I used Scrivener too. Lots of great things to play with you can spend all your time playing instead of writing of course I would not know about that.

  17. Thanks for sharing these tips! I use Scrivener as well and I’m very aware that I’m not using it as fully or as flexibly as I could. I’m looking forward to sitting down properly and exploring The Inspector to help get myself better organised πŸ‘

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

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