Software you use for organizing your stories?

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axilog14
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Software you use for organizing your stories?

Postby axilog14 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:39 am UTC

Apologies if I posted this in the wrong forum, but I was just curious if any of you writers out there used any special programs/websites/software/whathaveyou while writing your stories?

Some background: for the past few years I've been working on this massive space fantasy-ish epic, and I always loved the process of worldbuilding and developing my characters. The problem is that I seem to always run into problems keeping all the various stuff that goes into the story organized. I've had rough drafts, character profiles, maps, plot outlines and family trees saved in at least five different formats (Word, Excel, OneNote, .txt files and copious handwritten notes) and it always becomes challenging for me to keep everything sorted and updated. Doesn't help that Microsoft Office recently got borked on my laptop and I still haven't got it fixed. (Eff you, Vista.)

So I was wondering, do any of you use any other fancy software just for keeping your stories sorted out? I've already experimented with 750words.com (mentioned here) and have considered downloading Scrivener or yWriter. I've read that having your own wiki is helpful too, due to the convenience of making internal links. If my laptop didn't conk out on me, then I'd still be using OneNote for compiling my universe bible.

A related question: Is there a yWriter-like program out there that allows you to keep track of your characters' ages while writing a multigenerational story? Or failing that, can anyone recommend a good way to twerk Excel for this purpose?
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Kewangji
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Re: Software you use for organizing your stories?

Postby Kewangji » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:11 am UTC

A wiki sounds like a good idea. I don't build huge worlds, or at least I haven't in a long while, so generally I only keep a few files, for which any writing software works. I've been using MindNode to plot stuff lately, and it's been working well. Looks really good, too.

I'm not a fan of 750words.com, it stressed me out and I felt bad days I didn't write lots, and it wonked up my stats (I loved those stats :() when I one day wrote to 800 words and decided to delete the thing. I thought it'd count as 800 words that day, since it knew I'd written them, but nope. :(

As for keeping track of your character's ages … how do you mean? I am not familiar with yWriter. I would guess you could do multiple entries/sub-entries for the same character? Like, John(20yo), John(65yo), John(88yo), etc.
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axilog14
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Re: Software you use for organizing your stories?

Postby axilog14 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:08 pm UTC

Yeah, I'll admit that 750 Words may not work for everybody. I will say it was really helpful in getting me to keep up a daily writing habit again. The metadata feature is useful too, I liked being able to tag specific paragraphs rather than whole daily entries.

From what I can tell, Scrivener and yWriter are good writer-specific programs for keeping track of scenes and chapters, especially when you're plotting the chronological order of events in stories. I still have to get yWriter up and running myself though, so I still have yet to see if it's really any good.

As for my trouble keeping track of character's ages, maybe this is just me overthinking things but I tend to be very particular about character relationships due to age and family connections. I find multigenerational stories problematic if only because I want 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. generation characters to interact with each other well without triggering too much fridge logic. At the same time I also want to maintain manageable family histories while also giving characters logical motivations fueled by family legacy. Look at stories like Holes or A Song of Ice and Fire, where the characters' ancestors manage to influence their actions while still providing a sense of historical distance.

For example, I have one character (let's call him Larry) who is left responsible for taking care of his grandchildren after his daughter and son-in-law die. Larry has to remain an active character even while his grandkids have reached their twenties, but at the same time he has to be a believably old guy who's lived an eventful life. I don't want to use hand-waves such as saying Larry works out like Batman even well into his golden years, neither do I want him to be a stereotypical crotchety old man. Is it fair to justify Larry taking part in shocking plot intrigues at an age where it's more plausible for him to be spending his retirement years in Florida?

I dunno, maybe I do think about these things too much. Or not enough.
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Kewangji
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Re: Software you use for organizing your stories?

Postby Kewangji » Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:04 am UTC

I'm not seeing a problem. Not everybody retires to Florida. :) As long as he's his own character, he won't be a stereotype.
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merrak
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Re: Software you use for organizing your stories?

Postby merrak » Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:02 am UTC

I wrote a C program that merges input files into whatever output I desire (the full story, outline, specific profiles, etc), then pushes everything into LaTeX, where it is compiled again. I wouldn't recommend this Rube Goldberg-like story management solution - but it sure was fun procrastinating!
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