Technology and Writers
Hiveword’s birthday celebration continues! I thought it would be fun to get some tips from power users on clever ways they leverage Hiveword.
I’ll start! 😉
Generating Exotic-Sounding Names for Characters or Locations
If you’re writing fantasy but you’re having trouble coming up with character or place names then look no further than the Location generator!
The location generator allows you to pick a country for which to show places. For English speakers, selecting a country like Morocco or Azerbaijan produces exotic-looking names that can be used for characters or setting names. Now, you probably wouldn’t use the names as-is (since they are real places, after all) but it’s easy to see that tiny tweaks make for some very interesting names.
Here are some examples from Morocco:
With just a quick scan I noticed Agadir Melloul. Now, that’s a cool name. I could use “Agadir” or maybe “Agadin” as a character or place name and I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll never hear “Agadir” called out at Starbucks!
From a quick search of Azerbaijan I came across a great name for a wizard or alien: Qazax!
Tracking Flashbacks and Character Arcs
Next up we have Lisa L. who has not one but two clever uses of the plotline feature. She says:
“I use the plotline tag for flashbacks. Because flashbacks — by definition — occur before the main story, it can be difficult to determine what happened when if I just stick them in my main narrative without tagging them. However, using the plotline tool to tag them, as well as writing a description within the plotline section enables me to keep better track of my story…within a story.
Also, even though I can tag scenes by character, I typically make plotlines for character arcs, so that I have a summary of their growth, relationships with others, etc. The more checks and balances I have, the easier it is to follow my sprawling novel.”
I should point out that when Lisa uses the term “tag” she means attaching plotlines or characters to scenes which is different from Hiveword’s generic tagging mechanism. Here’s an example of Lisa’s alternative plotline usage in action:
Of course, since each “plotline” is a legitimate Hiveword type it can be tagged, described to any length, and if you have Hiveword Plus you can add custom fields, images, or notes to it.
Chris B. writes in with three tips:
(Notes are a feature in Hiveword Plus)
“…I put the number for my foot note within the text of my scene summary in the scene summary box and then I put the corresponding number and description in the note box which is above my scene summary box. I find it cleaner and less distracting then putting the foot note description at the bottom of the scene summary page.
…I hate to throw away major chunks of material during edits, rewrites or at any time. I feel like I just wasted my time if I do that. I find myself very reluctant to let go of the material. So, instead I simply create a note, above the summary box leading with a title such as “Initial Chapter Summary,” or “Material That Can Be Used For Book II,” and stick the cut out material in there. That way I feel free to take the material out because I feel it is saved for possible future use.”
“I label 5 scene fields, “Prologue,” “Act I,” “Act 2,” “Act 3,” and “Epilogue.” I don’t put any other data in these scenes. I just use them as space fillers. I sort them in the proper order amongst my developed scenes (I don’t use chapters). That way when I look at my scenes in list or sort view, I have a more organized at-a-glance break-down of my story structure.”
Chris’ placeholder scenes is such a genius idea that I might try to formally incorporate that somehow. Let me show you how cool that is with some screen shots.
The first screenshot is the list of scenes. The placeholder scenes show you where the acts start. For example:
This is so much better than using tags or prefixing your scene names with the act because you have ultimate freedom to move things around without having to manage those little details that can get stale. Freedom is a perfect segue into the scene sorter with placeholders:
The scene sorter is very simple to use: simply drag and drop a scene card where you want it. With placeholders, though, you know exactly which act you are adding the scene to. And the best part is that you don’t have to modify anything on the scene itself. Like I said, genius.
Many thanks to Lisa and Chris for contributing such great tips!
How about your tips? Please consider sharing your clever tips in the comments below so that everyone might benefit.
There’s only ONE day left to win Hiveword Plus or Knockout Novel. Check it out before it’s too late!
Today is Hiveword’s fifth birthday! Or anniversary. Whatever you call it it’s been five years of helping writers achieve their dreams. I’m both excited and proud of that.
This post is a bit of a retrospective. There will be behind-the-scenes information and maybe even a baby picture. Tomorrow I’ll have some great tips from Hiveword power users so be sure to check that out, too. But for now it’s time to get retro.
In 2008 I conceived the idea for Hiveword. Man, was it going to be cool! However, I didn’t start development until 2009. Sadly, 2009 passed by. Then 2010 and still Hiveword was not available to the masses. I’m not even sure why it took so long. Crazy.
In January 2011, Hiveword was born. Sort of. You see, while I was working on Hiveword, author Elizabeth Spann Craig and I joined forces to unleash the Writers’ Knowledge Base (WKB) on the world. The WKB is a search engine for writers with nearly 40,000 articles on writing.
The collaboration was serendipitous in that I had had a back-burnered idea for capturing writing articles in a search engine and coincidentally Elizabeth wished for a way to make her tweeted articles significantly less ephemeral than the Twitter experience.
Here’s a baby picture of the WKB that I sent to Elizabeth in the early days:
You can learn more about the WKB birth story here.
So, Elizabeth got me as a developer to help with her problem. I got a shiny new project to work on which was great for procrastinating on Hiveword. What could go wrong?
Nothing went wrong and the WKB has been a well-loved resource for writers. To this day it captures Elizabeth’s tweets and makes them available to writers via the search engine. A very recent development is that the articles are now categorized such that the WKB will be a search engine AND a directory of articles on writing.
While you may look at the WKB and see a stand-alone website, it’s actually an integrated part of Hiveword under the covers. In fact, that integration is most evident via MyWKB (launched in 2012) which is a personalized form of the WKB. For example, MyWKB will show you a list of the new articles since the last time you logged in. This will eventually allow you to get emails of new articles by category if you so choose. Basically, the WKB continues to grow up.
Speaking of growing up, Hiveword had been gestating for a long time by this point. Finally, in November 2011… Hiveword was born!
Hiveword is a free novel organizer which lets you track characters, settings, scenes, etc. Tens of thousands of people have used it to organize their novels and it makes me very happy that I’ve been able to help them in this way.
Is Hiveword pretty? No, not in the least. My baby is UGLY. But, it is functional and I’ve gotten many compliments on how easy it is to use so that warms my heart.
Between 2011 and early 2013 Hiveword was steadily improved but nothing flashy. As I mentioned above, MyWKB was released in 2012 to personalize the WKB. Then, in early 2013 I approached author and writing coach James Scott Bell to see if he’d be interested in collaborating on a software product for helping writers. Luckily, he was interested and in 2013 Knockout Novel was introduced.
Knockout Novel is based on Bell’s Plot and Structure book and guides the writer through interactive, self-paced prompts to polish a story to a fine sheen. Like the WKB before it, Knockout Novel is an integrated part of the Hiveword novel organizer. In the case of Knockout Novel you can have your story with all of its characters, scenes, and whatnot along with your answers to the Knockout Novel prompts. Knockout Novel gets you lifetime access to the product and you can use it on as many stories as you’d like.
Knockout Novel was my first real foray into charging for a product. Getting some money coming in was great because it helped to defray the cost of running the site. A free novel organizer isn’t free to everyone, after all, and I was glad to have some help footing the bill.
Things were kind of quiet after Knockout Novel was released until early 2016 when Hiveword Plus was introduced. Development in that area has been at a feverish pace. Plus is a set of premium features for Hiveword including custom types and fields, image uploads, etc. While most people can (and definitely do) get by on what I now call Hiveword Basic (the free version), folks serious about organizing will love what Plus offers.
To my knowledge, no other organizer allows you to create your own types or add fields to existing ones such as scenes or characters. Want to track spells? You can do it. Want to add an area for Theme on a story? You can do that, too. This is by far my favorite feature because users can customize Hiveword to their needs.
Hiveword Plus is under very active development. It’s a subscription service and is billed yearly. Today, it’s still at the introductory rate of $25/year as a thank you to early users.
So, you’re now current on history. I hope it wasn’t too boring. I have so many awesomely huge ideas for Hiveword that I will continue working toward my original vision for some time to come.
Tomorrow I’ll continue the birthday celebration with some awesome tips from Hiveword power users.
What’s your favorite part of the Hiveword suite?
There are only two days left to win Hiveword Plus or Knockout Novel. Check it out before it’s too late!
It’s hard to believe that Hiveword has been helping writers organize their stories for five years. Other Hiveword tools such as The Writer’s Knowledge Base and Knockout Novel have been doing the same for roughly the same amount of time.
So, in honor of Hiveword’s momentous day we’re giving away three subscriptions of Hiveword Plus and three copies of Knockout Novel to six lucky winners.
See here for how to enter. The drawings happen on November 28th. Please tell your friends and help spread the word. Thank you for your support all these years!
Today I’m at author Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog talking about a cool new feature in the WKB: article categorization.
Check it out and let me know what you think!
You can now attach pictures to your characters, settings, and just about anything else in Hiveword.
In my last post, I provided a preview of the features around image uploading. Everything there still applies but I’ve tweaked a few things to make the experience smoother. Those sorts of changes don’t convey very well in screenshots, though. The screenshot above is new, however, and shows how you can easily filter images by story, type, and tag. This filtering is consistent with scene and note filtering.
I won’t waste your time with a rehash of the last post but please check that out and see what you can do with it. I think it’s pretty cool. 😉
Currently, there is no limit to the number of pictures you can upload as I think you should be able to upload everything you need for your stories. That will have to change if there is widespread abuse of the policy but for now… unlimited, baby!
I hope you like this new feature. I’d love to get your thoughts on it along with any ideas you have to make it better.
This feature is part of Hiveword Plus. There’s a two week free trial if you want to try out Plus’ features which includes the picture upload described here. You also get the ultimate in novel organizer customizability with the exclusive Custom Fields and Types feature where you can track anything from spells to starships. Learn more about Hiveword Plus here.
One of the most popular feature requests for Hiveword is uploading images. I’m pleased to say that it will be released soon! In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a taste of what you can expect. This is early access, of course, so things may change a little. (You can click on the images for a bigger view.)
Let’s get started with the Image Browser:
The image browser screen shows thumbnails of all the images you’ve uploaded. The idea here is that you can quickly browse through the images to find what you want. In all of the screenshots, clicking on the image itself will take you to the image’s detail page. The image browser will also have a filter mechanism so that you can winnow down the images to just one story, for example. If you’re familiar with Hiveword’s Scene list filter then you already know what to expect.
If you’ve used Hiveword Plus then you know that the Notes feature allows you to attach notes to things (scenes, settings, etc.) or leave them as free-standing unattached notes. The same idea applies to images. In the next screenshot you’ll see the Van Halo character page where I’ve attached images to the character himself.
The image viewer on the character page can be expanded (to see the images) or minimized (to get them out of the way). As you can see, you can add images directly from this page with the Add Images button.
When you click on an image you are taken to the image detail page where you can name the image, add tags, or write about it.
The first screenshot I showed you was the Image Browser which showed a condensed view of all the images. A related view called Image List is a combination of the browser and image details which you can easily scroll through. Note that this page shows an image’s tags, description, and what it’s attached to (if anything).
Like the Image Browser screen, the List view will also have the filtering capability.
There you have it — a whirlwind tour of the forthcoming image upload capability. One thing I didn’t mention is just how the heck you get the images into Hiveword in the first place. Luckily, that’s pretty simple. There’s a special upload screen that allows you to add images via a file picker or drag and drop. It’s utterly simple to use.
The image upload feature is part of Hiveword Plus which is the paid upgrade to basic Hiveword. Plus currently offers custom types and fields, a journal, notes, and (shortly!) images. If you are interested in Hiveword Plus you can save money by signing up now because the price will be going up after the image feature is added. Right now, Hiveword Plus is available for $25 per year and you’ll be locked in for life at that rate even when it goes up. $25 is $2.08 a month. It’s a steal! After all, $2.08 won’t even get you a Starbucks latte.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new feature and any ideas you might have related to it. Feel free to comment below or shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Just a quick update about some new character types. Previously, the character types were
Those still exist but there are now two more:
- False Protagonist
- False Antagonist
These are useful when you have a character that isn’t what they seem at first.
This post would be prettier with a screenshot, don’t you think?
Hiveword user Josie F. requested this change. Now it’s your turn. What’s your great idea for making Hiveword better?
Hiveword user Kevin H. recently suggested several features. The first one to be implemented is a way to assign a chapter to a scene within the scene page itself. Previously, you had to do that from the Scenes by Chapter page. (You still can, of course.)
Have a look at the screenshot below:
The new piece is the Chapter dropdown. All of your chapters are in the dropdown in the correct order. You can assign the scene to a chapter or remove the chapter assignment altogether.
The dropdown will only appear if you have chapters defined. If you are like me and don’t use chapters then it won’t be in the way. It’s the best of both worlds, I think.
Now it’s your turn! Do you have any ideas for new features or improvements on old ones? I’d love to hear from you. Simply drop a comment below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the Comments link at the top right of the page when you are signed in to Hiveword. There’s also Twitter, Facebook, and carrier pigeon if you prefer those avenues. There’s an extra fee for the last one, though.
Hiveword user Matt N. requested a cool feature: show scene summaries in the scenes list. What a great idea! Here’s a screenshot:
As you can see, summaries are included with the normal scene information. By default, the summaries are not displayed. To show them, simply click the Show Summaries checkbox. To save vertical scrolling, only 600 characters of a summary are displayed. The idea is to give you a taste of what the scene is about. To see the whole summary simply click on the scene link to go to the scene detail page.
Filters work like they always have. In the screenshot there is an active filter so non-matching scenes are dimmed as usual.
I hope you like this new feature!