Sunday, September 16, 2012
Recently while I was poking around the Writers Knowledge Base site, I discovered Mike Fleming's Hiveword, an amazing web-based story organizer that is easy to use, provides quick and easy outlining of scenes, characters, settings and plotlines, and generates terrific compilation lists of the same. In addition to these features Hiveword also stores your work online for you in a private account, so it's like a virtual version of a novel notebook. Here are details on some of Hiveword's different features along with some screenshots (and click on any image to see a larger version):
Your Hiveword account includes a dashboard with all your works in progress arranged by title, along with when they were created, stats on how much work you've done on them, and the last time you updated the info. For those of you who like me are quantum writers and work on several projects at the same time, this can help you track your progress and productivity on multiple WIPs.
Each story you archive on Hiveword has a main title page where you can record a subtitle, what name you're writing under, and a summary of the story. Here I've plugged in the summary for my novel crash dummies' book, and the summary area is a great place to work on a draft of your outline or synopsis.
As you compile scenes on Hiveword, it keeps track of them, and generates a list of them for each project. This is great because you can track how often you switch settings, POV, plotlines and keep track of who appears in what scene.
Hiveword also compiles lists of your characters as you make them up and provides an at-a-glance summary of things like attributes, occupations, motivations, etc. If you're working on a project with a big cast of characters I don't have to tell you how valuable this is.
The service also compiles lists of settings in the story, as well as a snapshot of your description of them.
There's a button on the settings list page that offers you the option to you generate place names if you need them, and provides maps and links to info about the generated results. By selecting the "add setting" button you can add any of the results you like directly into your story.
You can also use a similar button to generate random character names, and add those you like from the results to your story.
There is much more to Hiveword than what I've mentioned, so it's worth taking it for a test-drive yourself to see all the features. Hiveword is so great at helping organize your story info and elements that it's like having your own personal story assistant. You can use it for other purposes as well, such as outlining those bright, shiny and very distracting new story ideas so you can get out of your head. For those of you who are series writers, Hiveword would serve as an excellent encyclopedia to keep a running record of your characters, settings, plots and details from every novel. If you're on the phone with an editor, you can consult Hiveword on details from your book for pitches, editorial discussions or to answer those pesky impromptu questions (like "Hey, what Chapter did Marcia find out John was also the demon thief?") You pantsers might not have to backtrack through your manuscripts as much if you take a few minutes after your work sessions to record details of what you've already written in a Hiveword file.
The very best thing about Hiveword is that right now it's free* for anyone to use, so you don't have to pay to play with it (and according to Mike Fleming's blog, he's keeping it free for National Novel Writing Month.) If you're thinking about writing your first novel this November, want to become more organized with ongoing projects, or simply want to play with novel-writing software to see what it can do for you, I highly recommend Hiveword.
*Added: I just learned from the designer that Hiveword is going to be free forever, not just for NaNoWriMo, so one more huge reason to love it.