Tinderbox Forum

Size and Number of Writing Spaces

I have written a linear non-fiction book in Scrivener, some 23 000 words, and am about 6000 words into a story-version, also in Scrivener, that will incorporate the original book’s material as reference material. But it feels too constrained and I’ve been toying with SSP for a couple of years now but never really had any material to put to its use.

Given the nature of the subject, the failure and turnaround of a corporate change project, hypertext narrative feels like a good format. It will allow me to develop characters such as board members, senior executives, contract project managers, change managers and the long-suffering staff of the organisation, their perspectives and situations in an interesting and engaging way.

All 30 000 words are now in SSP in 34 Writing Spaces, the original Scrivener chapter files.

Can you give some idea of how large a Writing Space should be? Or, based on your experience, what is the word count range? It will help me to size the decks, so to speak, and, more importantly, will stop me writing overlong sequences.

Many thanks,

Much depends (it always does) on just what you’re writing and how you plan to link it.

As a rule, if you only have a handful of writing spaces, you can’t do very much with links: there’s just not much to do! The shortest really-successful hypertext I know has 37 writing spaces. Lots can be done with a few hundred writing spaces; when you get beyond 1000, you’ve got an unusually big hypertext.

These constraints tend to lead to writing spaces that run to around 300 words. But you can do quite a lot with shorter writing spaces, and plenty of people use longer writing spaces at least occasionally. It would be interesting to assemble a short story collection of, say, a dozen 4000-word stories in a common world with different points of view and that take place in different, intersecting timeframes — think Olive Kitteridge or A Visit From The Goon Squad — and to explore ways to link those together.

Thanks, Mark, that’s a huge help. Much appreciated.