1. palix
    Offline

    palix New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0

    Online software for structuring characters, storyline, locations, etc

    Discussion in 'Software' started by palix, Sep 7, 2014.

    Hi fellow writers :)

    I'm a want-to-be-writer from the cold northern part of Europe (Norway to be exact). I'm currently working on a novel that I'm having a love/hate relationship with that I'm sure many of you can relate to. Not knowing whether or not I will ever finish it, if it will be any good and all the nerves that come with emptying your soul on paper.

    One of the challenges of writing – for me at least – is keeping it structured. I'm using Excel, Evernote, Word and large quantities of Post-it notes to keep track of all my characters, locations, and the general timeline (making sure there are no inconsistencies), as well as writing down the ideas that all seem to pop into my head as I'm five minutes from falling asleep. You know – how old is this character? Where was he/she at that specific point in time? What's his/her hair/eye color (yes, I've described different eye colors for the same character in varying chapters of my book). I have a great quote that this character should say at some point, but I'm not quite there yet – so I should write it down. What happens in this scene and that scene?

    So I'm thinking of starting an online service that would allow writers to gather their information in one place, and keeping it structured. Easy to use, like Dropbox or Evernote, but tailored for writers and the challenges we face. Think of it as something that would let you:

    • Keep track of all the details of a character
      • Appearance
      • Birth/death date and cause
      • Where he/she was at a specific time
      • Personality
      • Life story
      • Notes
      • Files (images for example)
      • Interaction between characters (who has been in a scene with another one, which character killed another in a crime novel, etc)
    • Locations
      • What does it look like?
      • Where is it?
      • Who were there, and when?
    • Storyline
      • Structure, and summary of each scene and chapter
      • Timeline showing every scene and all characters involved
    These are just the things I've been thinking that I need. I'm sure you all have some awesome ideas that I haven't thought of :) so my question, basically, it this: do you feel that this is something you need? Would you sign up for such a service?

    I've started some companies in my time, so I'm serious about investing a lot of time and resources into this, and it would be more personal to me than any other projects I've done, because it would be something I really need myself. So I thought, what is better than asking some fellow writers if they think it's a good idea?

    Let me know what you think! Maybe it's an idea wasted, but I'd love to hear if there are other writers out there who would need such a tool :)
     
  2. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,581
    Likes Received:
    5,066
    I don't use Scrivener, but I think it would be your competition. Have you looked at it?

    Writers who like it like it a LOT.
     
  3. palix
    Offline

    palix New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, I've researched Scrivener, although I haven't used it on my novel project. I think I have a little different approach. While Scrivener seems to focus on writing the novel, I'm more focused on getting down all the details that you need to keep all of the data related to a novel – which is a lot, oftentimes, at least in my experience :)

    I've thought about George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire), and all the characters, locations and events that he has to keep track of – that, and the challenges I'm facing with my own novel, is how I approached the idea.

    I'd love to hear from people who use Scrivener though – what do you like about it? Could there be a better solution, or is Scrivener all you need? Would an online services be a plus, or a drawback?
     
  4. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    There are a couple of software platforms that do what you speak of. One that I gave a try to was Dramatica Story Expert. Though beautifully laid out and presented it was overly complex and, in the end, for me, something my brain was already doing. It may serve someone somewhere, but I'm not the target customer.

    Scrivener, as you have already mentioned, is a different creature. It's a word processor with many of the items of which you speak, but it's first and foremost a place to write the story. I've been using Scrivener since it launched and I can't imagine writing on anything else. I'm a Mac guy, Scrivener was originally made for Mac, MS Word on Mac sucks. Scrivener serves all my needs. I don't personally find use in character profile sheets and things like that. A little note-taking goes a long way for me in those areas. I might indulge in drawing a map or two when I'm feeling a bit of writer's block, but that's a another topic. ;)
     
  5. palix
    Offline

    palix New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've never tried Dramatica, but I checked out some Youtube videos, so thanks :)

    I guess a relevant question to ask, since you've both mentioned Scrivener, is – how would you rate it on a scale from one to ten? Is it a perfect companion for a writer, or is it just "the best solution exisiting at the moment"?
     
  6. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    It depends on your personal needs. No two people have the same process. I rate it a 10+ because it does everything I want, all in one place, allows me to use its features (or not) to my personal needs, and no matter what I write or how I write it, when I compile, I get a perfect Schunn format MS. Simple as that. I can't stress enough the fact that I searched for something like Scrivener because MS Word ported for Mac is abysmal. Just terrible. Slow, glitchy, and when you're used to how streamlined Mac apps are, it is a behemoth of a program that does nine million things that I will NEVER make use of, but for which I paid. Scrivener only does things that a writer wants. It doesn't create graphs or charts. It doesn't scrap-book for you. It's a simple word processor laid out to help a writer create a manuscript. It does a lot of things you mention as well. Character bio-sheets, you can pull almost any kind of file into the research area of a project, so, pics, maps, notes, whatever...

    I created the resource page for Scrivener where you can read how I feel about the platform.
     
  7. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,581
    Likes Received:
    5,066
    I tried Scrivener but it didn't do anything for me. I usually just write on Word (for PC, not Mac).

    For me, when I'm brainstorming/organizing, I usually use pen and paper. I guess it might be useful to store those ideas digitally, maybe with a stylus and screen, but... there's nothing wrong with pen and paper, either.

    So, I'm not really looking for a new writing tool. But there may be people who are!
     
  8. palix
    Offline

    palix New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the input guys – I'll check out your resource page Wreybies!
     
  9. Pink-Angel-1992
    Offline

    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2011
    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    3
    It sounds like a nice idea that could be very benefical to many writers, but it'll all depend on what you offer users, how it's set out, it's appearance and how easy it is to learn and use. It's an idea that could have great potential; I think that such a tool could be of great help to beginner writers, especially those who find themselves a little unsure in what they might need and want to plan before they start writing.

    Will your tool only be online? I think that it would be more helpful and useful if people could also access it offline. Also, would people be able to access on different devices (mobiles and tablets)? It may be helpful for many writers.

    Another question: would it be a free service or paid? I mean, you'd probaby want something, with that would need to be put into designing and building it and then the work that would be needed to maintain it, but a beginner or young writer may not be able to affort pay for the service (depends on how much it'd cost). Also, someone maybe want to pay for a service they won't like, but with that you could have a 30 day trail or something.

    I don't know if you're still think about this, but I thought I'd add my thoughts on it and hopefully give you something to think about, if you're still think about this idea.
     
  10. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,504
    Likes Received:
    1,337
    I think you're a day late and a dollar short...Palix hasn't been seen his last post on this thread!...this sounds like a bit of market research!
     

Share This Page