Looking for free story organizing software for Mac

Discussion in 'Software' started by Xoic, Feb 4, 2020.

  1. Xoic

    Xoic Active Member

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    ^ Doesn't bother me, and I started the thread (if that means anything round these parts). Dogberry and Amontillado, I appreciate the recommendations. I do already have yWriter on the laptop but haven't messed with it yet. And I was looking at trying Numbers as well. If it does text boxes that might work for me. At this point I'm mostly just looking for software that allows me to make a step outline aka beat sheet, which Scrivener is good for.

    The original step outline is just a series of 3X5 index cards each with one step or beat written on it, that can be shuffled or removed/added any time you want to make changes. I'm using the folder structure in Scrivener's binder, laid out on the corkboard as what look suspiciously like index cards that can be easily shuffled.

    But if I could find any other software that allows the same basic functionality I'd be very happy, especially if its free.

    I suppose as a beginning user I only qualify at this point as a Scribulator.
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Active Member

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    I've found a really decent way to create a very responsive step outline (aka beat sheet) in Evernote.

    Let's see if this image hosting site works now:
    [​IMG]

    Cool. What I did was just created a very simple table, only a single column. In each cell I write a single beat. The beauty of this is that if I need to re-arrange them, it's simple as pie. As the picture shows, you can easily drag and drop a cell to anywhere you want it.

    Note also that the title of each beat is a link. I set it up so I can click on a link and it opens a new page where I go into greater detail about the beat.

    So far so good. This is essentially the same thing I've been using Scrivener for, but of course it lacks all the other functionality. Thus far a good, easily adaptable beat sheet is all I need , so this is working. It should be simple to make changes any time I need to, which of course is the whole point of using a step outline.

    I find that once I get to the actual first draft stage things change, and I can log those changes in the step outline to quickly check what other beats might need adjusting.
     
  3. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

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    Looks like a good technique. I don't currently use Evernote, but I like the idea of a single-level, high-altitude outline.

    Lately I've been playing with extra columns in OmniOutliner for start, end, observer, and participant. That will export to a csv file that will feed right into Aeon Timeline.

    This single-level beat sheet might work out well like that.
     
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Active Member

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    I've never used OmniOutliner, so I'm not sure what all that means, but I hope it works out.

    What you see above is the (beginning of) the big story beat sheet. When you click one of the titles it opens a page of scene beats, which breaks the action down to a much finer scale.

    I'm also adding more links now in each beat that go to pages of rough notes and ideas. I like the way it's working out, and it's so much more organized than just page after page filled with unorganized ideas that I can't find later.
     
  5. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

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    OmniOutliner is a one-pane outliner for Macs. It's pretty good, but has not been as actively developed as it should have been. There are signs that's turning around.

    You get a title for each topic, of course, and there's notes below each topic. You can also add extra columns. That's pretty cool, although I really haven't had much need for it.

    That could change, though. I got a copy of Sheetplanner, which bills itself as a combination project planner and outliner. On first glance, it doesn't seem like much of an outliner, but you can actually do pretty much the same thing with it as you do with OmniOutliner.

    Every entry has start and stop dates and some other standard metadata. If you don't need them, you can hide them. If you use the start and stop fields, it will display your outline as a timeline.

    It's not as nice as Aeon Timeline, but it's reasonable. Workable, at least. If I didn't have an outliner or a timeline utility, Sheetplanner could fill both roles.

    OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) is pretty cool, too. Somewhere I've got a Python script that will read an OPML file and inject it into a Scrivener project. The topics go in the binder, the notes go in the synopsis cards, and it will optionally flatten an outline to a fixed number of levels. A ten level hierarchy can get reduced to two levels, with lower levels represented in the synopsis cards.
     

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