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Writer's Cafe Offers Novel Approach to Writing - page 2

The Quest for Literary Greatness on Tux

  • November 9, 2006
  • By Rob Reilly

The Storylines editor is the main tool in the Writer's Cafe suite. With it you can lay out your novel or script into scenes, with multiple plots, sub plots, and characters.

Storylines uses the concept of cards to grab descriptions, content, annotations, images, and players. To get started the author inserts a new card and starts typing their idea. Next idea, new card. You can add cards whenever you want and stick them in any location, on any story or plot line.

The technique works well for brainstorming, because ideas need to flow out without restraint and be captured as quickly as possible. After the initial brain dump of story parts, cards can be moved around, edited, added, and deleted, as needed. The description (which you specified) is displayed on each card and you can click on the various tabs to edit the other card data.

All this information is collected as you input your ideas. When you're ready to see it all on paper, a report can be generated that contains all your story data as an HTML file, a plain text file, an OpenOffice.org Writer (.sxw), or an Anthemion Helpview file. The report style can be a novel, a screenplay, or in a tabular form.

I used Storylines to develop a quick story. The cards helped me organize and consolidate the main concepts. The story began with why, what, how, and conclusion plot lines. I roughly broke up paragraphs into cards along each plot line. I added cards and content as the story matured.

Several topics didn't initially fit onto any of the plot lines. No problem. I just created a card as usual, putting it in a random spot on the screen. I then right clicked to bring up the card menu and used the "Move to Pocket" menu item to park the card in the Pocket holder. When I finally got around to figuring out where the card should go, another right click followed by "Insert" stuck the card at the last cursor location. The Pocket menu also let me clean out cards that I decided would never have a home in the story.

Pockets let you save and manage scraps of random information that you'll use as the story evolves.

About a quarter way through generating content I printed out a screenplay report and saw that the data was arranged in scenes (shown horizontally from left to right on the screen) and progressed through the plot lines from top to bottom. A typical screenplay format layout. The story information followed a similar scheme, when I printed it using the tabular style.

For short pieces, it might take a little effort to get efficient with content production. The program will definitely help me with brainstorming and story development.

Writer's Cafe has a few other bundled applications that will help writers.


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