Tag Archives: onenote

Long time no see!

This is the first in what I hope will be a long string of regular blog posts. Of course I thought that a few months ago too and then didn’t have much (if anything) to say for the last 4 or 5 months. So no promises.

One of the main reasons for a lack of blogging has been dissatisfaction with my blogging software. To briefly recap, my old laptop was a Dell. It wasn’t good for much but typing my stories and when it started randomly pressing the control button while I was typing, it wasn’t any good for that anymore either. I replaced it with a lovely Mac machine, which I was extremely leery of at first. These days I’m happy to report I’m actually quite smitten with it and spend hours of every day doing pretty much everything on it.

One of the downfalls to switching OS was that I needed to replace Windows specific software, including the Windows Live Writer software I used for blogging. It’s free and intuitive and I love it. But how hard could it be to find something similar for Mac? Well, I wouldn’t know because I more or less gave up on it. I tried Qumana, but it didn’t click with me. Now I’m working with Ecto. So far so good.

I only tell that long and ultimately uninteresting story to segue into the real point of my post. Almost a year ago now, I posted about my go to software programs for my Windows set up. I’m still 100% supportive of those choices, by the way. It was hard to find replacements for them, especially Onenote. That one was tricky, but I’m so inspired by the replacement that I found that I overcame my aversion to finding a new blogging tool to just to be able to share with you.

Scrivener– This could very well be a one stop program because it has some pretty robust planning tools built into it, but I personally just use the word processing capabilities because I don’t care for Open Office (free). There’s a lot of positive things to be said for Scrivener that have been mentioned at length in the many reviews out there so I won’t restate them all. It’s worth checking out.

Curio– This is the only other program I use for writing these days. I tried several note taking/organizational programs before I settled on this one. It combines the mind mapping features I loved in Xmind (free) with the free form note taking capabilities of Onenote. It does have a pretty steep price tag. I bought my copy on “Cyber Monday” at 25% off and still ended up paying over $100 for the mid-grade version, but I feel good about it. I’ve posted before about my need for extensive outlining and prewriting so I get a lot of use out of the program.

As far as I’ve been able to determine, Curio does all the same things I used Onenote for and then some. It’s got all the flexibility to arrange text, images, and other media around on the page that I enjoyed with ON. In a writing context, I used that feature to arrange several pictures per page (I use pictures I find online as inspiration for characters or settings) and I like to write summaries in one column with annotations running beside it. I’ve tried other programs, but that’s a fairly unique feature, but one I really wanted.

Another improvement is that Curio supports more levels of hierarchal organization than ON. ON is committed to a notebook analogy, which is fine. I actually find it very attractive. But that seems to preclude very many levels of organization. Curio uses a combination of sections, folders, and workspaces to organize everything and allows folders within folders. I haven’t found a boundary to that yet, although I haven’t tried to go deeper than 4 or 5 levels at this point.

The visual tools in Curio are what really sets it apart in my mind. You can make mind maps and lists using several preinstalled templates and you can then further customize them with color swatches you can download from different online sites. That’s such an unnecessary feature, but one that I love anyway.

Here are a few screenshots of Curio in action with the story I’m working on currently.

Screen Shot 2011-12-13 at 12.23.32 PM.png

This is an example of one of my character’s mind maps. I have a blank template that I have saved and I just copy and paste it onto each workspace I create for a character. I customize the colors as desired, but otherwise the style information carries over from the original. This is also a look at the interface itself.

Screen Shot 2011-12-13 at 12.25.02 PM.png

This is just an example of how I drop a photo onto the workspace to use as visual inspiration. I either search Google for photos or look at stock photo sites. I don’t pay for the images since they are for my own personal use. I just ignore the watermarks. Sometimes I’ll add a paragraph of notes underneath if there’s more to say than what I can easily put into a mind map. Curio supports voice recording and other kinds of media, including handwriting using a tablet, so there’s a lot of room for building some truly epic notes.

Screen Shot 2011-12-13 at 12.27.17 PM.png

This is a grab of the list tool. It also supports color customization. These are just some notes I took while reading a book (“Story Engineering” (Larry Brooks) good book, btw. I’m enjoying it a lot.) the other day. **

Curio also makes tables and notecards, although I haven’t used those features at this point. You should truly take the time to look at their samples. If you aren’t totally impressed then I want to know what note taking program you use because I think I want to buy a copy.

That concludes my little essay on the reasons why Curio is a writer’s best friend and a viable substitute for ON. As far as the Ecto experiment, I haven’t tried to publish yet, but everything else has worked as good, if not better than, hoped. It even has an “Amazon Helper” tool that let me look up the link for the book I mentioned without having to leave the editor. Very cool. I think you guys might be seeing more of me around these parts real soon.

**Edit: I took new screen shots for this post since the old ones were too small to be useful due to my inexperience with Ecto at that time. The list is actually from “Story Structure Architect: A Writer’s Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters” (Victoria Lynn Schmidt) which is another helpful book that I’d recommend.

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A real look at how I outline

I’ve described my outlining process before on the blog, but this time I’m going to show you guys real pictures of my notes. I can not stress strongly enough that these are my actual notes from the book I Wish. If you haven’t read it yet and want to, there WILL be spoilers. Avoid this post at all costs if that will ruin the experience for you.

The program I use is Onenote by Microsoft. I swear by it. It’s about the most amazing notetaking software ever invented. Do yourself a huge favor and get a copy.

The first thing I do is a brain dump on paper. These are some actual crappy cell phone pictures of my actual crappy written notes. Seriously. Nobody can read my handwriting. It’s like a blind gorilla wrote them with his stupid foot. But it’s just an example anyway.

paper notes 1

paper notes 2

I love bullet points. Some of the notes made it to the final version, some were changed until they didn’t resemble the original note at all, and some I just scrapped completely. I can’t stress enough how important it is to just let yourself go during this part. Sometimes if I piece of information or dialog occurs to me, I’ll write right up the margin or further down the page. I use a lot of arrows and underlines or boxes to link ideas together or emphasize some. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It’s just what makes sense to you later on when you’re reading over it. I’ve also been known to go over sections with a highlighter.

paper notes 3

A lot of times I’ll use Xmind for mind mapping (ooh, I’ll take a picture of that too!), but sometimes it’s just faster to grab a sheet of paper and make a quick diagram. This is one I made when I was brainstorming some new scenes to add length to the book. I think really well in this manner. That whole chart took me about 10 minutes to come up with and I had ideas for an extra 6 scenes.

It’s totally unrelated to anything, but don’t my fingertips look fat in that picture? I just got sized for our wedding bands and my ring finger is a size 4, which is pretty small. I had no ideas that fingertips could even look fat, but there we are. Ahem. Done now.

mind map 

mind map 2

So here are a couple of samples of different mind maps I made to get some ideas onto paper. Again, some were used in the stories, some weren’t. The process of brainstorming this way really unlocks a ton of potential ideas in my mind and inspires lines of thinking that I personally feel enrich my writing.

At this point I start plugging the ideas into Onenote.

onenote

This is an example of the summary I write before I start breaking my ideas into individual scenes. I write the summary as if I were telling it to a 3rd party. This is where I find out if I’m missing important information. It breaks down roughly to each paragraph = a scene. I leave myself notes on the side to remind myself to add more information to a a section when it becomes a scene or to make sure I don’t forget something that’s coming up. Also if you’re actually reading my notes, you’ll see that this was before I determined that Katie is an overused name and changed her to Krista.

ywriter

The last thing I do is write out a scene description. For I Wish… I used yWriter. It made formatting a bitch when I added new scenes though so I don’t think I’ll be using it this time around. But you get the idea. I wrote a couple of paragraphs of what was supposed to happen in that scene and then turned it into a 3000 word passage. Not a bad conversion, right?

I filled out each scene in the book before I wrote a word of it. Some descriptions are a lot more detailed than this one is. I included any ideas for dialogue or other phrases I liked and wanted to include. You can’t do yourself any disservice by being really wordy on this part. When I was ready to write every day, I knew exactly what I was planning to work on. I never had to spend any time trying to think of what came next because I already knew before I started writing what happened in what order.

There was one pitfall to the whole thing. My outline was TIGHT. I had every day accounted for, even if it wasn’t specified in the story exactly what day it was. It doesn’t matter if the reader knows as long as I do so that I don’t have my character in two places at one time. So when it came time to add more scenes it was like crap, where the hell can I fit that in? It took a lot of wiggling and a few serious rewrites at the beginning or end of the scene to fight them all in.

But that’s a minor problem and if I had a better handle on how long my average scene length was it wouldn’t have happened. The nice part about yWriter is that it tracks how long each scene is for you so it’s easy to do the math. Now I know that my average scene length is almost exactly 1500 words and I can plan enough scenes in advance to come out to where I need to be by the end.

Hopefully, this clarifies my process for anyone who was confused. Xmind and yWriter are both free programs and a lot of people have Onenote on their computers and don’t even realize it. If you have any questions you can leave it in the comments or hit me up on twitter @wrenem. I’ll be happy to help you out as much as I can.

Edit: Wow guys, totally didn’t expect this to go viral like this. It’s awesome, thanks for stopping by my fine little piece of web real estate. I’d love to have you visit again in the future. If you are interested to see what this outline and 2 weeks of 1st draft writing will net you, please consider buying a copy of I Wish… for only $.99. I’d sure appreciate it. Smile

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5 Gifts for a Writer Mama

It’s Mother’s day again, a totally made up holiday in which we’re encouraged to (yet again) profess our love for someone on this specific day instead of being encouraged to love them the whole year round. But since I’m a giver, I thought I’d make a list of awesome gifts for mothers who are also writers. (Did I mention I love making lists? True story.)

HP-Mini-110-netbook

 

A Netbook- I have a HP mini netbook that I’ve had now for a few years and it’s an amazing little machine.  The prices are relatively low (most start around $200) and it’s perfect for writing on the go.  These little guys are beyond portable. You can slip one in a large purse and they barely weigh anything.

_onenote

Microsoft Onenote– I’m a HUGE fan of ON. Like a fanatic. But there’s great reason for that. Onenote is an amazingly useful, very powerful organizational tool. I don’t think there’s a single person would wouldn’t benefit in some way from having this program, but writers especially have a lot to gain.

apple-iphone-4

An Iphone 4-  Everyone needs a cellphone, but why not get the mother in your life an Iphone? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of apps that span the range between productive to purely for entertainment. I use my phone daily for so many things, including note-taking for my WIP.

kindle

An ereader- I have both a Kindle and a Nook and while my preference is the Kindle, they are both amazing devices.  A writer needs to read, after all.

scrivener

Scrivener– This is one that’s still on my own wish list.  A versatile program that helps with the plotting and writing of novels, short stories, and screenplays, Scrivener seems like a must have tool for any serious writer.  The Mac version is polished and gets high marks from most everyone, but I’m unsure of the status on the Windows version.  Last I checked (around January) it was still in beta testing and running with a lot of bugs, but that could have changed by now.

Now you have a list of awesome gifts for writer mothers so get out there and get shopping. Smile

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OneNote, the Sequel

In our last exciting episode, I talked about my favorite software program in the entire universe and touched on how to add web information into your notes. I may have also implied that OneNote can save kittens from trees and hug lonely pandas. It can’t. It doesn’t have arms. But if it did, these are the kinds of things that it would do because it’s just that kind of program.

Since this is supposed to be a blog about my writing journey and not one about the non-writing related uses for ON, I thought that I might actually get around to talking about writing at some point in this post. It’s pretty much a certainty if you use this software for any length of time you’ll be able to come up with your own uses for it and undoubtedly they will be more clever and well planned than anything I’ve come up for it so let’s get to the point, shall we?

My preferred genre is urban fantasy. This means that in my writing universe there are more races than human. A lot of these are things that I’ll never see outside of my imagination, which is what makes my note taking so important. Even the more common place (in urban fantasy, anyway) creatures such as vampires and werewolves have “rules” unique to my universe and those rules must be obeyed.

A slight tangent here… I think that there is a huge myth amongst newbie writers. They assume that writers are gods of their creations. This much is true. But like our own Creator, writers are bound by the weaknesses and flaws of their creations. A human being isn’t likely to fly away from danger because we don’t have wings. If you make something implausible happen in your own fiction your readers WILL notice and will not be amused. /end lecture
Ahem. So yes, the rules must be created and they must be obeyed. I love using OneNote for this. The tabs, pages, and subpages allow a lot of organization to take place.

Using my own work as an example, I keep a notebook labeled “DW Universe”. This will be my main reference for all works that take place in this universe. Each separate WIP will merit it’s own notebook where I will keep track of characters, settings, plot lines and the related information, but each WIP will be included in the DW Universe notebook, which will continue to grow and evolve as long as I continue to work in that world.

The DW Universe notebook has become a wiki of sorts. Thanks to a feature in ON that allows you to link to other pages and paragraphs within the document, I am able to easily relate characters to their races. Let’s say that I have a character named Melvin the Merman. Let’s further speculate that in my world mermen are rare and thus highly sought after by the mermaids. They all also have sparkly blue tails and bright green eyes. Creating a link from Melvin’s page to the page on merfolk is like shorthand. It’s easy to see at a glance what his appearance is and that if he were to date a human it would not be a widely accepted choice amongst his peers.

These links have proven to be invaluable because I have made probably 100 pages of entries. Some are things I’ve written myself, some of it comes from research, and there are lots of images. Being able to find a key picture or the article I wrote about the racial traits of dryads in my world is important. Being able to find those things quickly, is even more precious.

Besides the links, you can add tags to help you quickly find information. And everything you add is searchable, even photos of text you’ve taken. You can make audio recordings and ON will automatically run voice recognition software to make a sort of transcript that can also be searched. I haven’t played with this feature yet, but it does seem pretty promising.

And, of course, you should consider the biggest selling point that Microsoft markets: the ability for more than one person to share notebooks. If you’ve ever wanted to do a collaborative project with someone, ON would be ideal for that. No media is off limits to this software. Voice recording, pictures, handwriting (scanned or written on a tablet PC), emails, internet documents… probably more that I can’t think of off the top of my head… They can all be integrated and Outlook especially works wonderfully with the program. I don’t use that feature as much as I should. I’d be a much more organized person if I did.

I hope I’ve done this software the justice it deserves. It really is the most important tool I have access to besides Word. It has taken my notes to another level of usability. Putting the ideas on paper is important, but so is being able to find what you’ve written weeks later.

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If OneNote and Jesus got in a fight, I think we all know who would win

***I found a neglected Blogger account that I started in 2009 and wrote exactly 2 entries and an unpublished draft.  Since the information in it is still relevant, I decided to repost it here.  The OneNote version I’m writing about is 2007.  I’m not yet familiar with what all the 2010 version offers.***

First let that I am not part of the targeted demographic for OneNote. I am in no way a professional woman in any sense of the word. I don’t even write freelance non-fiction articles to pay the bills. I am a stay at home mom, full time student, and and a fiction writer still learning her craft. So no, the marketing that Microsoft has all over the software page has officially gone straight over my head.

If my only introduction to this program was the official marketing I would never have tried this program. Luckily for me, I ran into a discussion about the merits of OneNote versus those of Evernote. Evernote is a great program and if costs or other factors prevent you from using ON, then I’d highly recommend Evernote as a viable option.

As it happens, I actually had a copy of ON 2007 included in my Microsoft Office Suite bundle that was installed onto my computer when it was built a few months ago. I’m sure I’ve seen it countless times without making the connection that I had nearly the most important software of my life (second only to MS Word) right there, begging for use.

So at this point, you might be thinking, “Ok, Wannabe, you’ve convinced me that you love this software. Care to elaborate on why you think it’s so amazing?”

Why yes, Hypothetical Reader, I would love to introduce you to the cult of OneNote. I’m not even kidding. This program has its own fansite.

I’ll readily admit that I am the opposite of an organized person. I am the type of woman who writes myself notes on the back of a handy scrap of paper, only to throw it away 20 minutes later. Or use it to spit my gum into. Or spill a half full can of Mountain Dew on it. Or whatever. The point is that my precious thoughts are often lost nearly as soon as they leave the nebulous confines of my mind.

Things got slightly better with the introduction of my iPod Touch. I have some great apps on it for brainstorming writing ideas and keeping track of those former “scrap of paper” ideas. I’ll write more about how I use my iPod as a writing tool at some point in the future. For now though, know that it’s really helped me keep track of things. The area where it really excels is making lists. This is where I keep track of authors, books, and songs that I want to purchase. Helpful, but not life altering.

Enter OneNote. The interface is pretty intuitive. I was able to start using the basic functions within minutes of opening the program. And if that’s all I ever learned how to do, it would still be an extremely useful tool. But it does so much more than just let you write notes to yourself in different notebooks. I’m positive I’ve only scratched the surface.

Let’s talk about using ON for prewriting. My first step for any research is always the internet. I’m lucky enough to have access to a lot of scholarly sources thanks to my continuing education. And even without that, you can’t beat a quick Google search for turning up a dozen different aspects of any topic. The real downside to this approach is that you might end up with numerous links to relevant articles.

I know I’m not the only person who’s ended up killing a forest worth of trees in order to print out piles of useful information. Some people will always feel better having a hard copy of their notes, but I’m fine with just having a handy place to store digital information. OneNote has several options for storing information found on the internet. You can send the page directly to OneNote using a widget in the tools drop down menu (or at least that’s where mine lives). The disadvantage to this is that the formatting is almost always guaranteed to be so wonky that it’s nearly impossible to distinguish what the heck you found so useful about the page in the first place. I was going to add an awesome little screenshot at this point, but Blogger has defeated my will to live and so you’ll just have to explore a little on your own to find this widget.

Another option, and the one I use the most, is the copy and paste method. You can copy anything and paste it into ON and it automatically generates a link to the page where the information came from and tags it with the date and time. This has come in handy on more than one research paper I’ve had to write for school. My sources cited list isn’t half the pain in the butt it used to be.

The last way for getting internet information into ON is to capture a screen shot. There might be easier ways to do this out there, but until I started using ON I used to have to hit the “Prt Scr” button, open an image editing program, Ctrl-V to paste and then crop it into something usable. At the very least we are talking about a process that took a couple of minutes and if I were trying to capture a lot of screen shots then it might take hours. Not fun.

OneNote has a built in feature for capturing screen shots. Windows key-S and the entire screen goes semi opaque and you use your mouse to draw a rectangle around the part you are planning to keep. It then automatically saves the image (with dated link) in the “Unfiled Notes” tab. You can then move it to whichever notebook you’d like to keep it in. And as an added bonus, you can save the screenshot image to your hard drive as a usable image in it’s own right. It was how I took the screen shot I nearly included with this post.

I have hobbies outside of writing. I’m actually something of a (really really) amateur artist. I do some scrapbooking and mixed media collage. In addition to piles of books and magazines that I buy for inspiration, I follow web sites and blogs dedicated to the art I enjoy creating. OneNote is the perfect way to organize the images that really speak to me. A quick screen cap and I not only have the image I want, but also a handy link and date so that I can find the original context again. Please remember when doing this not to violate any copyright laws. Using images for inspiration is ok, using them in your own work and claiming them as your own is not, whether you make a profit or not.

Since this is starting to get really wordy, I’m going to wrap this post up and make another post about how I actually use ON for prewriting.

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Adventures in outlining

I’m not entirely sure how other writers handle the outlining phase of writing.  I know some don’t even bother.  You pantsers out there are some brave souls, but I’ve tried taking that particular leap of faith and the landing… not pretty.  I’ve tried the traditional method of outlining, the kind you learn in middle school, but that doesn’t work for me either.

I’ve read and reread an article by Lazette Gifford about a method she uses that she calls phase drafting.  I’ve googled the term and found a few other articles about it, but I’m not really any closer to understanding it than I was when I started.  What I take away from it is that she writes a really really rough, rough draft that she later embellishes.  I just don’t get the numbering involved.  Unless it’s just meant as a way to hold herself accountable by being able to say that she’ll do 10 phases today or something.

I think the method I’ve settled on after some experimentation isn’t too far removed from that.  I don’t bother with phases, but instead I write a chronological summary based on notes I’ve taken while brainstorming.  I use OneNote for all my pre-writing.  Even the notes I write myself on paper are typed up and added when I have a few minutes.  It just helps to have all my information in one place and OneNote has the advantage of being searchable.

To break it down, my first step is coming up with an idea.  Sometimes I start with a plot and sometimes with a character that really speaks to me.  Personally, I enjoy when I think of the plot first because it seems easier to come up with well developed characters than an interesting (and coherent) plot.  I ask myself questions.  Lots and lots of what ifs.

After I’m satisfied I’ve created a pretty decent base to work from, I write myself a summary from start to finish of the proposed plot.  OneNote works fantastic for this part, but I’m sure any note taking method would be fine.  I write my summary on a page with liberal notes along the margin and in some places in parenthesis in the middle of the summary to clarify my ideas to myself.  Some of these are pretty sarcastic, but nobody else will ever see them so that’s fine.  Since I’m working on book one of a proposed trilogy, I’ve been using different highlighter colors to mark things that are laying the groundwork for revelations that won’t happen until a later book.  There’s probably an easier way to plan a series, but I’ve never attempted one so I’m learning as I go.

Once I’ve completed my summary I start the outline process.  Which in my case is to start making scene “cards”.  I ended up using yWriter again this time.  Someday I really will use Word, I promise.  In someone else’s system this part would probably be done on index cards, but I’m too wordy for that to work for me.  So what I do is create a new scene in yWriter for each proposed scene (made up as I’m going along based on the summary I’ve already written and taking into account the notes in the margin that remind me that I need to work in a clue at this point or not to forget to come up for a reason why this character wasn’t around in this scene, etc…).  yWriter has an area where you can give a description of what happens in the scene.  I use it for filing in a really detailed summary of the scene.  Like I said, it’s not phases, but I will write several paragraphs per scene with anything I want to add to the scene, including dialog if I know it.

I’m about halfway done with my scenes.  My youngest is in bed for the night which gives me a nice long block of uninterrupted thinking time.  If luck is with me, I should be able to finish this tonight.  When I’m done, I’ll be ready to start the actual writing.  From there it’s just a matter of putting words on paper.  And that’s the part where it all falls apart.  I’m a great planner, but I can’t seem to get more than 30 pages in before I feel an overwhelming need to go back and rewrite it all.  Before long, I’ve totally lost all enthusiasm for the project.

This time I’ve given myself a time frame to work with.  Like NaNoWriMo, but just for me.  I want to have the first draft finished by February 15th.  I may go straight into the second book and let the first one rest for awhile, but that doesn’t matter.  All I want is a finished manuscript, ready for edits.  If I can do that much, I’ll be so proud of myself for overcoming the inner editor long enough to actually finish a project.  Go me!

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Tools of the trade

As someone with a serious interest in writing, I’m a very excited girl when NaNoWriMo rolls around every year.  It’s an excuse to talk about a subject I’m passionate about with other people who feel the same.  The playing field is leveled as everyone finds themselves in the same boat for at least that one month.  The mad rush to create a novel in an extremely limited amount of time bonds people like war veterans sharing harrowing stories from the trenches.  My favorite aspect of this exercise is the community that builds up on the forums around October and through November.  Everyone there is so helpful and quick to share tips and advice.  I’ve been turned on to several tools for writing that I never even knew existed due to my participation in those forums and learned how to use old favorites in new ways.  I thought I’d share what I use in my personal arsenal for writing.

Mead 5 star “hybrid” notebook

First off, I have to say that I adore the pockets in these things.  When I start the planning stages of a story, I find that I think better when I start pouring ideas out onto graph paper.  I alternate between pages of bullet pointed notes and mind maps.  Although I do have a netbook which, besides being adorable, is an extremely portable way to get words typed, I find that it’s a more effective use of my time to carry my paper notebook around with me when I’m waiting to pick up the kids or have arrive a few minutes earlier than planned to an appointment.  I later type all my notes into the various software programs I use for idea organization.

XMind

For the early planning this tool is a workhorse.  It’s a free mind mapping program and it’s not only easy to use, but easy on the eyes.  I use it for brainstorming everything in the early stages and even later in the story I have a template I use for characters as they develop.  I uploaded it to the site where you can download it for your own use: here.

A use that might not be as evident is using one of the several diagram structures for creating a time line.  I searched high and low for a free program that would allow me to create a simple chronology of the events of my story in relation to each other.  I’ve found that the fishbone structure actually works really well for my needs.  Generally I will list a date or event and use the note feature to add all the relevant details.  It keeps it looking clean and easy to find what I need at a glance.

MyHeritage Family Tree Maker

Not a lot to say about this one.  It’s another excellent free program.  Useful for the sprawling families that immortal creatures seem to amass after generations of humans have come and gone. 

yWriter

This is the last of the free programs I use.  It’s a great program for writing.  It lets you organize and rearrange chapters and scenes as you write.  I read some interesting things about the capabilities of Microsoft Word so for this go around I’m going to see if it works as good as the reviews have made it out to be, but if that doesn’t pan out, it’ll be back to yWriter for me.

OneNote

I can’t possibly say enough good things about this program.  The only drawback is the price, but even then when you consider all the use I get from this program it doesn’t deter me in the least.  I’ve even decided that I’d like to get a Windows phone when my current contract expires so that I can take advantage of the fact that it has portable OneNote access.  How handy for adding quick notes when they come to you while you are waiting in line at the bank or the grocery store?

I use OneNote for the bulk of my writing.  I use it for collecting research as well as for any and all information that pertains to my world building.  I love the wiki-like linking that’s supported between pages.  I also use it to accomplish a version of note card plotting.  Under a section I call “scenes”, I create a series of pages and on each I write as much detail as I know about the scene, including a date if I know it.  As I figure out more, I can easily add more detail to each page and it’s practically zero effort to reorder the pages in whatever order flows best.  Also nice is the fact that I can’t possibly drop them and mix them up.  If  you know me then you realize this is a very real risk.

Liquid Story Binder

I lusted after this program for years.  I finally bought it recently when it was on sale around November.  Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to use it.  I think it could be very handy if you know how to use it, but the learning curve is steep and despite a number of tutorials, both on the site and floating around the internet, I still don’t have a clue.  Essentially, it does what everything else I use does, but in one place.  I can’t give any kind of review due to the fact that I have no idea whether it’s good or not.  Which, I suppose, is a review of a sort.

And that’s about it.  I have downloaded pretty much every interesting program even remotely aimed at writers, but these are the ones I can’t live without.  I hope that these links were half as useful to you as they’ve been to me.

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