Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Hiveword Goes Knockout

I'm a big fan of Mike Fleming's Hiveword, the online novel organizer, so when he teamed up with author James Scott Bell to create Knockout Novel I was very interested. James writes amazing how-to books (which I've recommended via my posts For Whom the Bell Toils and Writer Wars), and the idea of having him as a virtual writing coach is pretty fabulous.

Knockout Novel works with Hiveword, which you use while you go through the instructions and prompts provided by James (which are based on his #1 bestselling how-to, Plot & Structure.) As you do, you begin building your story outline in Hiveword via your responses. You can take as long as you like with each section in Knockout, and you can use it over and over again for different stories, so it's self-paced and perpetual. All of this is done and stored online, so you don't have to download anything (or worry about losing it.) According to Mike's info, updates are also automatic and free, so as the program improves you won't have to purchase newer versions.

Let's be clear about one thing: Knockout Novel does not write your book for you, or tell you how to do it in thirty days, or any of that other online how-to hokey stuff I see too many writers buy into. What Knockout does is show you how to organize and refine your existing story ideas as well as create and develop what you haven't thought about yet. I'm a self-taught writer, so I had to learn all these things by trial and error; this program virtually eliminates all that frustration. I think it's also valuable for experienced writers because it can get you out of the rut of you've been doing and show you some different directions to take with story organization (which can also help you in whatever areas you've always been weak, and/or rejuvenate your love for the craft.) Pantsers, I know the word organization makes you break out in hives, but if you want to try plotting for a change you'll have James Scott Bell as your advisor with Knockout. The guy won't talk down to you or waste your time; when it comes to teaching the craft I think he's one of the best in the business. Since the program is designed to work with all genres it will fit any type of story, too.

Knockout Novel is currently priced at $49.00 U.S., which is comparable to or cheaper than most of the how-to online programs I've seen come and go. The prospect of having James Scott Bell personally show you how to organize a story is worth that much, and since it works within Hiveword you'll also learn how to use that. I think it's definitely worth the investment so I bought in, and will be using it this winter for a couple of different projects.

7 comments:

  1. Very, very interesting. I'll be keeping my eye on this--looks cool.

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    1. It's a lot of fun, too, Melody -- James is that sort of teacher.

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  2. I'm intrigued. I'm looking forward to hearing how it works for you.

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    1. I've never written a book with a virtual writing coach, so it should be an interesting experience. :)

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  3. Hi. I've just finished J.S.Bell's Writing from the Middle and his Plot and Structure book (can't think of the exact name). I loved them.

    The thing is that I have so much material for my book and have done so many versions and so much research; can you tell me if this program stores things like this?

    Thanks.
    A. Eller

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    1. Hiveword will store whatever work you do with the program, A., but it is not a storage service per se. For simple online storage of work you've already done you might try Google Docs; they offer free accounts up to a certain data limit and then lots more for a modest fee.

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  4. Anonymous8:41 AM

    Thanks for this, Lynn. Maybe this program will help me get out of the holes I always fall into with my stories.
    And just in time for Nanowrimo. :-)
    Ron B

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