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  1. Jazz great Charles Mingus once wrote "Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple." That's also what I'm looking for in my writing software - something that makes the creative writing process simple. _________ On that note... Is there a way to create **Parallel** (i.e. multi-column, spreadsheet style) Character or Plot Outlines ? Many of you may have seen J.K. Rowling's spreadsheet-style brainstorming for the parallel plots going on in one of her Potter books. Here's the link: For brainstorming characters and plots, Rowling's multi-column/multi-column spreadsheet format makes a lot of sense to me. And I gravitate towards making similar charts when thinking about an ensemble cast of characters. For example, I'd have individual columns for NAMES, WANTS/NEEDS, PHYSICAL TRAITS, STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, JOYS, PAINS, etc. That way, you can look at ALL of your characters' main traits on *one* sheet of paper. And you can see how one character relates to the other. It helps to see the big picture. Same with J.K. Rowling's chart. Plotting the time flow of the book is useful in her spreadsheet. You see how each plot progresses from month to month or chapter to chapter. And again, it's all in ONE page. ________ If I were to create my own creative writing software - it's tempting - I would adopt this "one page" approach. At the top of the program's hierarchy, you'd have a master one sheet (in column/row format) for PLOT and then you'd have another one for CHARACTERS. Those two docs would provide your bird's eye view of everything, especially in the early stages of brainstorming. And clicking on an individual box would take you deeper into the folders/documents in your project. _______ I've still in the stage of dabbling with various writing software options. I do like a lot of what is in Storyist. But right now, my creative writing software of choice for the early stages of writing might be Omni Outliner (which is great at outlining of course but also great at columns). Or Google spreadsheets (for collaborative projects) since it's in the cloud. Combined with some kind of folder/file organization. Or maybe I'm missing something about Storyist, Scrivener, Storymill, etc? Maybe the solution is for these programs to simply add hypertextual COLUMNS to their outline views? Let me know what you think.
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