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Old 29th March 2011, 02:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question regarding tools.

If this has been gone over time and again or there is a section of the board that I have missed in my searching please forgive me and kindly point me in the proper direction. I did search for it and the closest I found was someones thread about software to track multiple plot and timelines, which is somewhat close to what I am curious about but not exactly the thing. . .

To start I am horrid at organization and I feel that this is part of why my own efforts have never born fruit, though I do love the process! So I have began to wonder there has to be a better way than just filling notebook after notebook with ideas, world-building and aborted attempts at writing. Currently I have made the leap to the digital age and my research and world-building take up 5 fairly large files.

So I ask what physical tools do people use? I have seen cork board mentioned, push pins and yarn, maps and other such. I was thinking of picking up a large pad of blank news print, multi-colored pens and painters tape and absconding large portions of my apartments walls for my own purpose. Now I am curious though. . .

What organizational methods for brainstorming, world-building, plotting, story tracking and so on so forth do many of you use and why? What has worked for you and what do you consider the pro's and con's of such an approach? Basically what are the tools other than a word processor or pen & paper do you use as a writer and why?

Again if this has already been covered could someone please point me to where so that I might enlighten myself?
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Old 29th March 2011, 09:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

I use a cork (polistyryne?) board, with a map, folded up pieces of paper with ideas on pinned all over the map, and string and pins from important places in my map to seperate places on the board.
Also have all my writing on my laptop,usb-drive,cds,memorycards. All split up and easy to view.
And every now and then I print off all my writing so that I have a hard copy, incase the machines over take the world, I can still finnish my book whilst working in the robot workshops.
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Old 29th March 2011, 10:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

I really just have the story - things tend to grow out of that and if I need to work out times or places etc. I'll do it in a notebook. It's pretty much all in text, though, because that's the way I think. Diagrams just make my head hurt.
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Old 29th March 2011, 01:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

I was going to say "I used" a pinboard, but the truth is I made it then ignored it.

I have about ten notebooks, a box of scraps, audio memos and false-starts or scenes containing my thoughts and discoveries about my books' central subjects, and a lot rattling around in my brain about the incidents I want to record, but nothing ever really gels till I start to write.

In the interval between completing a manuscript and submitting it (a long interval in the case of my current book) I accidentally learn more and remember things I wanted included, so I go back and see where I can shoe-horn them in. And then I re-write.

The biggest challenge, I think, is to get the flow sorted in my mind and the initial stages of creating the pinboard gave me a good overview that I was able to draw on and alter later. I say I didn't use it after I made it, but in truth it proved to be a very good start and was valuable for that.
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Old 29th March 2011, 11:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

Interesting so a giant cork or pin board seems to be advisable so far. My wife was suggesting I buy a couple of pads of those Giant Post-it notes. Sadly I just couldn't get the vision of our apartment papered much like the scene in Bruce All Mighty only with post-its exponentially larger.

Thus far my list of physical tools has grown to some sort of mapping board. Be it pin/cork or white board and my copy/subscription to OED.

Edit: Oh yes and a good Thesaurus! One simply must have a good thesaurus.
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Old 10th August 2011, 12:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

I like using small index cards. Each card can have a scene, start, end, outcome. I find the cards useful because
- you can shuffle the scenes until you're happy with the order
- you can lay all the cards out and see your story developing, and maybe spot places where you are labouring the point, or underdeveloped areas
- you have to write on the cards. That's the most important thing. just thinking and not writing means, for me at least, that my story isn't developing
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Old 10th August 2011, 01:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

I'm playing with ywriter5.

Early days but you can set character, chapter and scene info for chapters and the like. seems ok
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Old 10th August 2011, 04:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

Like Hex, I just have notebooks for jotting things down, though some information then gets made into tables so I can elaborate on it (I would use a spreadsheet if I knew how...). For instance, in WIPs 1 & 2 I have a police force which has specific duty rosters, so I created lots of charts so I know which squad is on duty when.

Something that I've found very helpful in all my work is a table of scenes, which is my equivalent of Glen's index cards. For every scene I list the day, time of day, POV, brief description and word count, and I total the word count per chapter, which helps me to see which chapters are getting too unwieldy and need splitting, and where best to split them. When I was writing out of chronological order last autumn the chart was invaluable, as I could see where new scenes had to fit without having to keep running to and fro in the chapters themselves looking.
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Old 30th October 2011, 11:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

I wanted to resurrect this thread from its slumber as I was just considering some organizing / writing tools and wondered if anyone had used them.

ywriter is free, so I am definitely going to download it and give it a go ( for those who are interested, and "Spacejock" is an incredibly amusing name for a company!)

Liquid Story Binder is not free, but is half price for NaNoWriMo ( if anyone is interested) - however if I am going to pay for it, I would like to hear from someone who has used it and can assert its usefulness or otherwise.

I also ran across StoryMill but didn't pursue it after hearing it had issues of stability, which is the LAST thing you want when on a creative roll - of course that might all be corrected now, so again if anyone has any experience with the software, I'd love to hear about it.

Then there was something else that sounded good but was Mac only, so that ruled it out for me.

Anyone a die-hard user (or detractor) of the above tools? Anyone know of something else I haven't run across yet?
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Old 31st October 2011, 09:21 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

Here are a couple more software programs that may interest you Tom

Storycraft you can get at priced at $49 is $49.99

And writeitnow4 can be purchased at priced at $59.95

I have not used any of these programs, but they do look useful.
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Old 31st October 2011, 03:50 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

Thanks Rangerton!

If anyone uses any of these tools, I'd love to know if they really do make a difference to the creative flow. I know I do not write linearly, I have scenes from all over the place, and I find it hard in just regular Word to keep track of what happens where, which chapters I am missing, and so on.

I have the free ywriter downloaded so may take a look today. Whenever I get to try it out, I will post my impressions.
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Old 29th November 2011, 08:33 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

Ok so I have begun to use ywriter a little, and I like it so far! I like how I can have an overview of my chapters, see whose viewpoint each chapter is written from, and otherwise get an overview of things that a regular word processor doesn't show.

I also like the ability to lay out the time of each event, either absolute or relative, which I'm finding very handy in terms of making sure it all makes sense. The ability to add locations, location descriptions, details for the characters that are easily accessible (to remind myself about some of the minor characters) - all that is good stuff too.

I've also added another new tool to the toolbox, a netbook. Yes, these are out of fashion now that the tablet is here, but just like I chose a Droid 3 for its keyboard, I chose the netbook for its keyboard. I just can't stand typing on glass!

I do think netbooks are overpriced, and that we should be seeing some older ones with older tech being out there for around $100 or so, but nope. Anyway I bit the bullet because I have lunchtime at work where I could be using the time constructively and a mobile phone just doesn't cut it.

A full-size notebook has issues of being bulky and heavy, so while there were some that were not that much more expensive than the netbook, I still took the netbook option. I am now adapting to the small keyboard, but doing ok, I do have small hands anyway so probably less of an issue for me than it might be for some.

Looking forward to having more writing opportunities, just have to move my ywriter files off the desktop on here and then I can see how the two combine and see if it allows me more time to write, with better guidance in my writing!
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Old 29th November 2011, 12:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Question regarding tools.

You can get Liquid Story Binder for free - at least a version of it. Personally i find it a headache I don't need - I can put a scrapbook up on weebly, a playlist in windows media player, and open as many Open Office documents as I need. Does the same without the learning curve.
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