Thursday, March 02, 2006

(Still) Building My Outline

I know, I know. I thought I had finished outlining, but I haven't. This is my first time trying this method to start a book, remember. I found some software that is just incredible for this task. It's called Free Mind and it's mind mapping software and, yes, it's free!

Basically, it's a mapping tool with tons of features. You can add notes to any node, highlight them, prioritize them, collapse and unfold a branch or level, identify revisions, add graphical links or hyperlinks; the list goes on. And, since I'm a new user, I'm sure I'm just scratching the surface.

Here is a screenshot:













Just click on the picture to get a larger view.

How I'm using it is on one side I've listed characters and settings on the parent level, and then description of each on the next level. Where necessary, I've added a note (like a comment in MSWord) for more detail or for jotting down notes I want to remember for later.

On the other side, I've listed the basic plot elements of a story at the parent level, which guides me to list the gist of each scene from there. Then, again, I make notes on the scenes when I know more details or where I want to go with it. I have used different text colors (and you can format the look, color, backgrounds, etc. of each node and/or each level) for my subplots. Here is a picture of my map for Picture Perfect:











Sorry, no larger version of this image. The information is highly confidential and restricted. But, you get the point. I only wish the image could show you more of the capabilities of this program. I'm not sure of the printing capabilities yet. I hope it will print it in report form including notes.

Before I go, I just want to let you know about another freeware application that I think is fabulous. It's called yWriter by SpaceJock Software. This application was written expressly for novel writing and allows you to develop each scene, characters, and more. It keeps track of your word count and lets you know how many words a day you need to write to reach your goal, it asks about the motivation and goal of each scene and whose POV the scene is. This one does print in a report manner and you can choose from various options.

Here's a screen shot:












Just thought I'd share these great applications with you. What applications do you use for your writing? Or, do you use charts, boards, stickies, or something else?

Have a great weekend,
Nienke

24 comments:

Shesawriter said...

Oh, dear. And here I thought I was ...um... analytical. LOL! You've topped me, lady. :-)

Tanya

Heather Dawn Harper said...

Um, yeah, good luck with that.

Seriously, whatever works for you, more power to ya!!!

[I love Snoopy!]

Rene said...

My head is swimming. My outline is usually scribbled on a coffee-stained napkin then promptly forgotten. I wish I was more mentally organized, but my writing freezes up when I try to do that.

Nienke said...

Oh man, I guess my virgo qualities are showing through.

Anders said...

Oh wow! These are like trusty old KeyNote on steroids.

archshrk said...

Hello, Michele sent me.
Actually, I don't write but I'm glad that there are such tools available for those that do. Hope you have a good weekend.

MJ said...

Mmmmmm... flowcharts!

Sticky notes on a white board connected with lines, and then Visio to plan website structures... and post-it notes stuck to my Palm... which uh, defeats the purpose of a Palm...

Amanda said...

Here via Michele~

Stephanie Davies said...

Hi! Here from Michele's today! Wow, you certainly put a ton of time and effort into your outlines! I haven't really written anything since high school, but they taught us to use simple list outlines for our stories. I think if I were a professional writer, I would probably just jot down notes on a piece of paper. But that software you are using looks so sophisticated!! Keep up the great work!

Kelly Parra said...

Holy cow, that looks complicated. If it's working for you, awesome! I use a doc for notes and scribbled notes. I tried the chapter by chapter project board and it just doesn't work for me. I'm a simple gal. Good luck!

Nienke said...

Hey Anders, nice to see you!
Archshrk: thx for stopping by!
MJ - monitors also make good sticky holders
Thx for popping in Amanda and Stephanie!
Kelly - actually, I'm surprised how few people use developed outlines.

Meg Allison said...

Wow. That is definitely complete and detailed. Not sure I could work like that ... but then again, I never thought I could handle a blog. LOL!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Up to now I've used typed list-style outline thingies of my own devising. But I've been thinking about using something more mind-map style in the autumn when I plan the second draft of the novel. I had in mind big sheets of paper (the kind you use on flip charts) and coloured pens and the kitchen table. I knew about ywriter but not Free Mind, so I'll look into that. Thanks for the tip!

Nienke said...

And Meg, you're handling TWO blogs! I like having the detail in front of me - it gives me ideas when I look at the whole thing. It also helps in keeping the chronology right and placing foreshadows. I can see in an instant if I haven't followed up on something and I can align my subplots more easily with the main story.
Zinnia - I think you'll like it. The only thing I don't like is I haven't found a way to print it out as a report rather than a graphic. I'll have to go figure that one out. It's a necessity. But I can export it to a PDF file, which is handy.

Sam said...

I'm amazed.
Loving new technology, I am SO tempted to go and get this program.
I may. Will. Am off to see the plotting and outlining wizard!

Thanks for the head's up!

Sandy J said...

Both of these programs look awesome. I need some kind of structure and organization. Or else, I just sit there and stare at the screen. 'Course that happens a lot anyway, LOL!

Will check them out. Thanks for the info!

Tess said...

Thanks for the tip re Free Mind. Off to play with it now :-)

Jean said...

MJ--Palm as Post-It Note holder. What's wrong with that? A bit pricey, but whenever you're ready, you can easily transfer it to the electronic Palm world. There are just some things not worth the effort, and a Post-It stuck to the Palm is the perfect solution.

Olga said...

Sounds like great software! Thanks for the tip!

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I've been playing with MindMap, too, and I really love it! I plan to use it for plotting too, but so far I've been using it for character development. It's great for just going with the flow, coming up with key words, personality, habits, etc. Eventually I'll move the details over to a more formal character scrapbook, but I love the "freeing" creation this tool gives me.

Cynthia Antoinette said...

Thanks for the great advice! I linked to your blog at my blog Journal-Log. I hope you don't mind (let me know if you do). What a nice job you do. And, I'm going to check out the writer's links you linked to. Thanks. Sincerely, Cynthia Antoinette

Rachel Vincent said...

Oooh, this looks like it's right up my alley. I wish I'd seen it earlier. I'm off to try it now.

Thanks!

Stephanie Bose said...

Thanks for the yWriter! I found the mapping tool a little confusing, but I do like yWriter.... awesome!

Steph

redchurch said...

Awesome to see another mindmapper! I use mindmapping all the time. I don't know how writers live without it.