Organizational Tools/Programs and Strategies

I’m a bit new here and would like to start working my story ideas. Just asking for any good strategies of organizing ideas for your story’s world, characters, plot, etc or any good online tool recommendations that aren’t too expensive

Any help would be appreciated

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Welcome @BlazedSteel!

Nowadays, I use Scrivener for pretty much everything. You have what is essentially a project master file that you can see at all times on the sidebar, in which you can add text files and organize them in folders as you see fit. Anyone who’s reading this who’s ever used Photoshop or any other kind of image editing software will understand what it means as it’s essentially giving you a basically identical method of grouping layers, but with text files, and you can switch between these text files as easily as any layer, no need to wait for Microsoft Office to open up again. In writer’s terms, this is like have loose leaf versions of all your information that you can freely move around the folders of a binder.

Then it takes all this one step further by letting you personalize the metadata of your project. This means you can create tags, keywords for easier searching, and cross-references between documents so you can retain context of information. It also has a corkboard of sorts that lets you add PDF files of things you find interesting/necessary to keep close (say, a poem that inspired something in the work, the biography of a person who inspired a character, etc) as well as images, kind of like a Pinterest inspo board, but more words.

They have versions of Scrivener for Windows and Mac and it’s quite affordable at only $18USD!!!

And I swear I’m not a shill for Literature & Latte, but they also have another program called Scapple which is a super useful tool for interactive fiction, as it’s essentially an digital brainstorm device that, while you can use it as intended, you can just as easily use it as a visual reference for your game, choices, and branches! And it is available for the same price as Scrivener, $18USD.

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I asked a similar question a while back. It’s not exactly the same thing, but it should help you since a lot of experienced writers responded.

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Another program I’ve had my eye on is Campfire. It looks very pretty and seems designed with storytellers and writers in mind, though I don’t think I fully understand its pricing structure…

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I’ve used Wavemaker in the past. Probably not as fancy as the other options, but it’s free, so in my opinion it’s worth a try.

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After I write out my outlines, for narrative design I use Twine, which is free and open source, as a way to prototype and have a visual guide to how my branching will occur. Even if my Interactive Fiction or narrative design role is not utilizing Twine, its still a good visual guide and will help myself and other teammates see the flow of the narrative. It also impresses audiences for presentations to have a tangible visual for them to see.

My approach are 3 things. Word for writing generally. OneNote for world building stuff and CSIDE for ChoiceScript writing.

1 - Plotting: miro.com
(Free)
This is brilliant - really, really fantastic. Highly visual, hugely customizable, excellent for plotting.

2 - CSIDE - specifically developed for writing in choicscript, this will save you huge amounts of time and is very well supported
(Free)

3 - Dashingdon - one of the simplest ways for a newbie to see what their story will look like, and share it with beta-testers. Great support
(Free)

4 - Choicescript tutorial
(Free)
This is an amazing resource - check out the sections on structuring your story

5 - Code writing shortcuts: https://textmechanic.com/
(Free)


e.g Add prefix : Add Prefix/Suffix into Line - Text Mechanic
You can add a prefix and a suffix to a list of variables copy pasted into the program. It is much quicker when generating multiple variables for your startup.txt file, that use a similar stem to variables you’ve used before.

6 - Map generator: Azgaar's Fantasy Map Generator
(Free)
Fun tool to stimulate your worldbuilding ideas. You can generate and edit maps, and the about section seems to say you own the writes and can sell them (ie include them in a game, maybe with a filter to make it look more unique)

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I’ve been known to plot out the major threads in some of my games using pen and paper. Cheap and doesn’t get accidentally deleted if your computer goes down :fearful:
Can either get a cheap book, or go with a posterboard/A4 pages stuck together and just fold it up when you need to. Can build little bubble flow charts to your heart’s content that way :slight_smile:

It does depend on how complicated they are though. For example I don’t have a full map of Abysm’s veil on paper as it got too complicated, but otherwise I recommend it.

I just make a txt file with descriptions for characters, another one for ideas, and one more for an overview of the plot. Don’t need anything too fancy really. I know some people use those freebee character creators to visualise them better if that’s something that appeals to you. (Heaps out there, just do a search.)

I’m mainly using notepad++ (free) for coding, and occasionally switching over to CSIDE (also free :slight_smile: ) for some stuff. (Recommend CSIDE for CS specific coding, I just got too set in my ways and am kind of used to notepad++ by this stage.)

Actually, Each-uisge started off its life as a partially written twine game. Long story, but I ended up porting it across to make it into a CS game instead (which required some changes, but only really because it needed to be converted across coding and structure wise). Really easy to use the bubble format to copy across choices. Just have to add the CS code which you can largely add in there anyway when you’re writing it if that’s your thing. It’s not a bad way to organise CYOA type games although I don’t usually use it for most projects.

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Outlining and prototyping with analogue tools such as pen and paper is something my younger colleagues thought was a really weird activity I did, even though our senior engineers did this all the time with the whiteboard. Often times, I usually will have filled Yellow Pads with outlines and hand written code before I even apply it in VSCode. Oh, and look into Visual Studio Code as well if you are more into the software dev side than just the narrative design side. Moreover, it has an extension for Choicescript.

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This means I can use emmet for CS??? Great to know there is an extension for it, never thought of checking before.

Played around with this one. Oh, geez… this is fun!

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