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Angel’s Bits – All the Little Details

Who out there already knows I’m something of a luddite? Yeah, yeah, put your hands down. It’s no big secret. I come from a time when most of us still wrote term papers on typewriters and only engineers learned about computers because they needed to talk to them in complex languages.

I learned the basics (though not Basic) and enjoyed interacting with the new electronic friends to some extent, but I still wrote stories out longhand. Fast forward several years *cough cough decades cough* and I manage, but I’ll never be one of those people who always needs the newest, fastest, smartest thing out there. Scott’s seen my phone. He’ll tell you.

I still keep story notes in notebooks. Not the stories – but the notes. Plot arcs, character notes, maps, and so on. My current one is a lovely bound blank book with little page flags, and though my story notes have become more and more compact over the years as I’ve worked out what I need, they can still be a bit messy.


Most of my author friends use some sort of program to keep track of story detritus, flotsam and jetsam and important crap. And while I will probably never own one of these programs, some of them are vociferously dedicated to their chosen app, so I thought I’d share some of their thoughts on story organization software:

Scrivener – this one’s a deep dive organizational tool that can help you with every aspect of your story. Those who do better with organized work spaces and who like detailed and robust abilities in a story partner seem to gravitate toward this one. It’s an all in one, also usable as a word processor. Some things Scrivener proponents had to say (names are omitted, cause I didn’t get to ask everyone if they wanted to be cited.) –

“I can group the information how I want it. It’s organized.”

“I like that each scene can be a separate file but I see them all at once. I also like that I have a research sections for files – text and images.”

“And it’s not this one huge glob in one spot.”
“Right. And you can split the window and see two scene at once to compare.”
“But you can easily add to it for a series, or just pull the info into the next file.”
iThoughts – an Apple product, but you knew that. This one seems to give you much of the functionality of Scrivener, but perhaps in a more streamlined, not quite as depth of information way. Exclusively a planning app, iThoughts is not a word processor. Our iThoughts user says –
I can do what ever I want with it. Add links, pictures. Add as many extra details as needed. All the info I need for a series is right there. The info is where I put it. I have different pages for different series. With all the books within that series all linked.
Scapple – for both PC and Mac users, Scapple is also purely organizational. For those of us who need something with a shorter learning curve and ease of use, this might be a good option. From our Scapple user –
“Scapple’s just like a big sheet of paper – you can put your ideas down, connect ’em, color code them and move them around.”
We also had a recommendation for Story Skeleton (sadly, I have no user quotes for that one) – this little guy looks like it’s based off the old note card method, but with better organization and you won’t want to kick the desk if you drop them on the floor. With stacks, cork board and list views, it’s probably one of the better options for writers who are used to looking at information this way.
What’s everyone out there use? Is there a really great organizational program for stories that we missed?

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2 thoughts on “Angel’s Bits – All the Little Details”

  1. I enjoyed using yWriter – – a free application that is like a free and limited version of Scrivener. I liked the ability to save research notes, maps, timelines and pictures along with the scenes and chapters. I reckon it’s worth getting if you want to try planning but aren’t sure if it’s for you. It’s quite easy to use, unlike Scrivener which I’m still struggling with after several, not particularly active, months.

  2. I’ve tried Y Writer (ages ago) and used Scrivener for quite some time. I abandoned Scrivener when I had a hard drive failure and NONE of my writing saved to my online back up. OMG. I’m still catching up. I had all these Scrivener files that were empty.

    Now I’m back to Word and notebooks for character development and story arcs. I like organizing by hand, there’s a connection between pen and brain that doesn’t happen with a keyboard. If I need to take notes while I”m writing, I use the header and footer.


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