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Index Cards

Index Card Support  

10 members have voted

  1. 1. Would you use index cards if they were available in Storyist?

    • Absolutely!
      4
    • Probably
      3
    • Probably Not
      3
    • Not in a million years!
      0


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I've had numerous requests to add index card support, so I thought I'd start a thread to refine the idea a bit.

 

If you care to contribute, I'd be interested in knowing:

  • Do you use physical cards now? If so, how do you use them?
  • In Storyist, would you see index cards as a general summary of individual items (e.g. plot cards, character cards, setting cards) or just for sections/scenes.
  • What other virtual card implementations have you used that you like? Dislike?

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Okay, here goes.

 

Do I use physical cards now? No. The Notebook view in MS Word has served just fine. Plot and Section sheets also work well (but could work better if they had a summary view).

 

In Storyist, would I see index cards as a general summary of individual items? Yes. Notes from the item sheets would have to be includable (by a check box, perhaps).

 

What other virtual card implementations have you used that you like or dislike? I had used the index card function in Dramatica. I didn't care for it. Long ago I used a packaged implementation of HyperCard (remember Hypercard?) which claimed to be able to turn index cards into finished documents in MacWrite (remember MacWrite?) but it pretty much required writing the story first and breaking it up into index cards to be reconverted into a document. It was really meant for presentations, I think, not novel writing.

 

Outline formats (with hierarchies and easily moved entries) work best for me.

 

Hope this helps.

-Thoth.

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I don't use index cards now. I do use Word's Notebook feature and the Notes feature in Storyist. I've created character arc tables in Word and written out plot summaries in Storyist. I also use the character sheets a lot and the setting sheets a little. These are probably as close to index cards as I need.

 

I'm still trying to make sense of the plot sheets, which seem a good idea in principle but in practice less useful, because less detailed, than just writing out a plot summary. But in general I use Storyist mostly to keep track of decisions I've made (characters' physical appearances, for example). I also find the prompts useful (sounds and smells, in the setting sheets, say). When writing, I tend to hunt around until an idea shows up and then follow it out to its logical (I hope) conclusion. But it's great not to have to stop in mid-flow to recall whether I gave some secondary character brown eyes or blue.

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I've had numerous requests to add index card support, so I thought I'd start a thread to refine the idea a bit.

 

If you care to contribute, I'd be interested in knowing:

  • Do you use physical cards now? If so, how do you use them?
  • In Storyist, would you see index cards as a general summary of individual items (e.g. plot cards, character cards, setting cards) or just for sections/scenes.
  • What other virtual card implementations have you used that you like? Dislike?

 

First time poster. Apologies if I tread inadvertently on any dangerous ground in here... Unfortunately I am in love with two writing programs at the moment and since I find Storyist more "story-focused" than the competition, I would love to bring the best of that other app to Storyist.

 

The "other app" is Scrivener and it has a fantastic interface for outlining. I personally don't use the index cards (tried - too clunky - just like index cards in real life). If you haven't seen the Scrivener outliner feature in action, you should, its sublime.

 

I'm wondering if it would be possible to remove "Section Sheets" from the left-hand tree pane and add a manuscript/section sheet (outline) toggle at the top.

 

You would navigate to the part of the book you wish to work on using the left hand pane and use the toggle button at the top to switch between writing the manuscript and working on the outline / section sheets.

 

Details:

* As I said, you would have just one navigation tree in the left hand pane for "Manuscript" and "Section Sheets", not two.

* A toggle button at the top would switch between the two "modes".

* In 'manuscript mode', you would, obviously, see the manuscript.

* In 'outliner mode' you would see section sheet if you have clicked on a 'section' in the left hand pane.

* If, while in 'outliner mode' you clicked on a chapter instead of a section, you would see the "synopsis" of each section in the chapter. You would, further, be able to edit the synopsis of each section in that chapter outline window.

* If, while in 'outliner mode' you clicked on the manuscript, you would see the "synopsis" of all sections, broken down by chapter with similar ability to modify the synopses.

* Additionally, it should be made easier (not sure how) to add and subtract chapters and sections while in the outlining window so that those of us who outline quickly can do so with a minimum of keystrokes. If you want a good example of a simple outlining tool with good keystroke flow, see Omni Outliner.

 

Did that make sense? I would be happy to elaborate or show screenshots if anyone is interested. Apologies if I am asking for too much!

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Hi akyi,

 

I've used Scrivener myself and, I agree, Scrivener is better at outlining. Then again, Scrivener has its own Outline Mode complete with its own button on prime screen real-estate. (It also has a Corkboard button for displaying "index cards", which I found pretty useless—the Corkboard Mode, not the button.) I wouldn't mind a more sophisticated outline mode in Storyist: one that created, deleted or moved chapters and sections in the manuscript as you typed or edited the outline (without bringing up a Section Sheet); one in which you could attach a synopsis (i.e., index card) to each entry.

 

Section Sheets don't really provide the hierarchical display of synopses we might expect but it isn't bad. To use it effectively I've found I frequently switch between the Section Sheets and the Manuscript hierarchy. This is a bit like having a stack of index cards at your elbow instead of a fleshed-out outline you can switch to in a pinch.

 

I wonder, though, if something like Scrivener's Inspector might solve part of the problem. Push the button and the Section Sheet synopsis (only) for the current Section pops up in a separate editable window.

 

As for toggling between the Manuscript hierarchy and Sheets hierarchy, I see the aesthetics of it but I switch between the two so often that separating them seems less practical to me than having them together in the Project Pane. (You can always collapse them.)

 

In short, I don't know if a more sophisticated outlining function, incorporating synopses/index cards, is on Steve's list but I feel it should be.

 

-Thoughtful Thoth.

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Hi akyi,

 

I've used Scrivener myself and, I agree, Scrivener is better at outlining. Then again, Scrivener has its own Outline Mode complete with its own button on prime screen real-estate. (It also has a Corkboard button for displaying "index cards", which I found pretty useless—the Corkboard Mode, not the button.) I wouldn't mind a more sophisticated outline mode in Storyist: one that created, deleted or moved chapters and sections in the manuscript as you typed or edited the outline (without bringing up a Section Sheet); one in which you could attach a synopsis (i.e., index card) to each entry.

 

Section Sheets don't really provide the hierarchical display of synopses we might expect but it isn't bad. To use it effectively I've found I frequently switch between the Section Sheets and the Manuscript hierarchy. This is a bit like having a stack of index cards at your elbow instead of a fleshed-out outline you can switch to in a pinch.

 

'Hierarchical display of synopses'... That was the word I was looking for. This, of course, would NOT be in lieu of the section sheets, I love those. Just an additional way to look at your story from a higher altitude.

 

I wonder, though, if something like Scrivener's Inspector might solve part of the problem. Push the button and the Section Sheet synopsis (only) for the current Section pops up in a separate editable window.

 

The inspector might be nice. The inspector in Scrivener is attached to the main window (which would be my preference, though not a strong one) and displays a fair amount of info. Still not as useful to me as the 'outliner' feature.

 

Another related and useful feature Scrivener has is the ability to mouseover a manuscript section and see the synopsis in the tooltip.

 

As for toggling between the Manuscript hierarchy and Sheets hierarchy, I see the aesthetics of it but I switch between the two so often that separating them seems less practical to me than having them together in the Project Pane. (You can always collapse them.)

 

I guess I see the manuscript and sheets hierarchy as separate now and cumbersome to switch between. But, I get what you are saying. I will have to use Storyist more to see if having the two sections in the Project Pane is indeed faster or slower for me. I'm still new.

 

(Part of that problem is that I've got a giant four novel series scrunched into the hierarchy and even with collapsing, the whole thing feels burdensome. I hear there is discussion elsewhere about creating tools for series, so I won't go any deeper into that issue.)

 

Maybe there is a hotkey that can take me from a manuscript section to its related section sheet and back again? That would be nice.

 

In short, I don't know if a more sophisticated outlining function, incorporating synopses/index cards, is on Steve's list but I feel it should be.

 

-Thoughtful Thoth.

 

Agreed. Thanks for refining my thinking.

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akyi,

 

Welcome and thanks for the feedback!

 

Taking a step back from the implementation details for a moment, I think what you (and Thoth, and others) are asking for is a way to work with the story at a high-level. This is a great idea and is something I'm interested in addressing sooner rather than later. And for this purpose, outlining and index carding (if I may take some liberties with the language) are really two sides of the same coin. Story sheets, on the other hand, are really tools for doing a "deep" dive on individual story elements.

 

I like your tooltip suggestion; Isaac requested page numbers and word counts in the tooltip. Perhaps the tooltip information should be configurable.

 

As for treading on "dangerous ground", don't worry--you're not. Feel free to discuss likes and dislikes in other writing applications. My only request is that posters treat everyone with respect and offer constructive criticism.

 

-Steve

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