As a writer I have never had a problem generating ideas. My biggest issue has been organizing them. Over the years I filled numerous notebooks and scraps of paper with thoughts and concepts. Most were titled ‘What If’. However, few of them ever seemed to make it into a finished narrative. A huge percentage ended up tucked in drawers or filing cabinets stagnating and forgotten.
I even tried index cards, sketching out scenes and characters and sticking them on a bulletin board on the wall next to my desk. At one point I considered buying a white board but decided that was just impractical.
When I wrote my first travel guide the publisher asked me to use their database program so that the copy could be leveraged across multiple platforms. A light bulb went off. Maybe I could organize my ideas for fiction in the same way. I began to search for some sort of software program that would help me build my story and characters.
There seemed to be lots of different programs out there to help aspiring novelists so I set a few criteria — it had to be easy to learn, flexible and free.
In my research I discovered an application called Storybook. It had received glowing reviews and recommendations from writers all over the world. I took a leap of faith and downloaded and installed the free version.
It was love at first sight.
Storybook allowed me to define and draft characters, create settings, write and organize scenes.
I used it to draft outlines for my first two mysteries — Dark Sunset and Bloody Sunset. My outline for Dark Sunset took less than three weeks and that included learning the software. I was so impressed I plunked down $25 and upgraded to Storybook Pro to get access to the more powerful features it offers.
We each have a different way of working. I have writer friends who sketch out their outlines in long-hand using a pen and pad. Others I know type it directly into Word. Some even use index cards and a bulletin board to build their stories. There is no single magic formula.
For me, the magic begins with an assist from Storybook Pro.