One of the things I was taught in Elementary School was to organize for large writing projects. I had done that using index cards, and on the computer using the Cardfile program in Windows 3.1. That program was unfortunately deprecated and not released in future versions of Windows, so I had to find other tools for doing it.
For a while I was using a program called AZZ Cardfile, which worked pretty much the same as the original Cardfile, with a few more features. However, once I started owning my own computer and shuffling them around every couple of years, I at one point lost all the work I had done in Cardfile, because it by default didn't save in a place I thought to look for moving. Only a few pieces of work that work I lost survived, a few pieces I had copied into other documents for use in those places. I have still yet to recover from that loss; I haven't bothered to sit down and rewrite the stuff.
After that loss, I started doing everything in my Word Processing software. I had used WordPerfect for a long time, but my old version wasn't compatible with Vista when I got Vista, so I switched over to OpenOffice temporarily until I got a new copy of WordPerfect (although now I'm stuck using OpenOffice until WordPerfect can open OpenDocument files, since OpenOffice can only open WordPerfect documents, not save them). I would save different things in different files, so at this point my WordPerfect file count is over 100, most of those having less than one page of writing, and some even having only a few lines of writing. That started to not work very well anymore, so I started looking for some new solution.
Some of my documents were reference documents, quick descriptions of how something in a storyline works. For that I decided to use a WIki, and ended up with Wiki In A Jar as I have mentioned in the past. The remaining things were story fragments, or comments in stories using WordPerfect's comment system, and I needed something else for that. I started looking back for card utilities, but wanted something more functional than a simple card collection like Cardfile and it's clones. I wanted to be able to take cards with fragments, and arrange them and rearrange them to fit them together as I needed, like I could do with actual physical index cards. So after a good deal of searching, finding nothing that fit what I was looking for either in commercial or Open Source projects, I was nearly ready to just sit down and program a tool for my own use, when I stumbled upon Writer's Café and StoryLines.
I only recently started using it to plan out Skewed, because I was still working off of notes in my WordPerfect documents, so there's only cards starting at the point where I started using it for Skewed, the beginning of Chapter 10. I have though planned out a couple of other stories in it to their fullest. Each card gives you a myriad of properties: descriptions, card notes, setting information, image attachment, and so on. And even more functions that I probably won't use very often.
Overall the software's been incredibly useful to me, and is one of the few times I've bought a specialized software like this instead of going for Open Source software or writing something myself. Love it, use it a lot, and the song that comes with the software, Jay Goldmark's Untie My Tongue, is pretty awesome too.
Date posted: 22 November, 2007 Tags: computer music skewed software writing
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