You know what the problem is with novel organizers? They let you track characters and scenes and such but they don’t let you track magic spells. Or starships. Or whatever else is important to you.
I’m pleased to say that this problem is solved in Hiveword.
You can now track anything you want in Hiveword. Spells and starships, sure, but you can also track political parties, countries, warring clans, fancy hats, guilds, ice cream, monsters, books, weapons, etc. You can even track intangible things such as writing prompts or notes for key plot points. What you track depends on your needs and creativity.
In Hiveword parlance each thing is called a custom type. Each type can contain any number of fields — defined by you! — for capturing the data you want to track for that type. How about a juicy example? Here’s a screenshot showing a custom type for tracking spells (click the image for a bigger view):
There’s a lot behind this simple screenshot. I created a type called “Spells” and now my stories have a menu called “My Types” which allows me to create a new spell just like I would create a new scene or character. The integration is transparent and consistent.
How does this magic work? Before you can add your type to a story you need to define it. You create the type (which is really just giving it a name) and then add the fields. For adding fields you use the the intuitive fields builder which even has a live preview. Here’s an example:
As you add, edit, remove, or sort fields the preview at the bottom will show you exactly what it will look like in your stories. Notice that you can even group your fields. Powerful stuff.
I hope that your jaw is agape at the possibilities. Perhaps you’re drooling. Either response would be awesome. 😉 However, I have one more bit of magic with which to dazzle you…
As you’ve seen above, you can add custom fields to custom types but you can also add custom fields to existing Hiveword types such as scenes and characters! Want to track another attribute for your characters? You can do it. Want to add a box for Theme on the Story page? You can do that, too. The following screenshot shows custom fields added to the character page:
You add fields to existing types using the fields builder mentioned above. Entering data for the character is done exactly the same as always.
As you can see, custom types and fields essentially let you create your own personalized novel organizer. This is a Hiveword exclusive. This feature is part of Hiveword Plus which is a paid add-on to Hiveword. Hiveword Plus currently has custom types and fields and a writer’s journal. More features are coming. Right now you can lock in a low introductory price while I’m adding the new features. This is my way of thanking you for getting in early. To sign up, log in to Hiveword and click Upgrade at the top of the page. There’s a 14 day free trial so there’s no risk to have a look.
In my next post I’ll talk about the new Journal feature. See you then!
Many folks have asked for the ability to sort stories and to refer to characters by something other then first names. These changes are available now.
First, story sorting…
Stories used to be presented in alphabetical order. This is perfect until it’s not. 😉 For example, folks might want to group a novel series together, put their most recent work at the top, etc.
To allow for diverse story sorting needs you can now manually sort your stories in the same way that you would sort scenes or characters. Simply use the Sort button on the Dashboard (aka story list) and you’ll be on your way to ordering your stories as you see fit.
Next up, character names…
Before, the “reference name” at the top of the character page was tied to the First Name field. Change the first name and the reference name will change and vice versa. Like alphabetical story sorting this was also perfect until it wasn’t.
In the screenshot below you can see that the reference name is “Van” and the first name is, too. They used to always be the same.
Now, the reference name and first name are no longer linked. In the screenshot below you can see that I made the reference name “Van Halo” which is different from the first name. The reference name is used everywhere that the character is referred to such as the character list or when included in a scene.
I hope you find these changes useful. As usual, please feel free to contact me about new features, questions, etc.
Just a quick update…
Typehammer is a podcast for writers. In their latest episode the hosts talk about my favorite app — Hiveword! It starts around the 13:50 mark if you want to hear the Hiveword piece but the rest of it is worth a listen, too.
Amy Hoy is an entrepreneur, teacher, and author. I’ve been following her for years because of her no-nonsense and often off-color advice on entrepreneurship and getting things done.
A recent post from her really struck a chord with me. I’m going to paraphrase and semi-quote what really punched me in the nose:
You need to be going somewhere specific. If you begin at the beginning, you have to try every single direction until you find one that works. In other words, you have infinite choices.
Infinite choices! Of course! Having infinite choices is a big problem. If you start your novel without a plan you’ll just meander, trying different things, coming back around, and ultimately going down another path.
Now, in the context of her post she’s referring to any creative endeavor but she later uses writing a book as an example. I’m pretty sure she’s not a pantser.
The danger of meandering is that you’ll waste time exploring paths that lead nowhere and wind up deleted (hopefully). This effort is inefficient for you and irritating to your reader if you leave that stuff in there. Maybe the mindless meandering will cause you to never finish your book. Isn’t finishing what you want to do?
If you do, Amy suggests working backwards. When you know where you’re going you’ll know it when you get there. Even a little bit of organization will go a long way.
Be sure to read Amy’s original post. She’s way more eloquent than I am. I also have some older posts on this subject if you’re interested:
“To infinity and beyond!”
No, wait, not that! 😉
Just a quick update…
Boy, have I gotten email for having just Male and Female in the gender dropdown! So, now, by popular demand, you can specify anything you’d like for gender.
There’s now a field for tracking a character’s sexual orientation.
There ya go — short and sweet. I hope you like these changes and keep the requests coming!
2015 is getting off to a strong start with another Hiveword feature — Chapters!
In a book, a chapter is comprised of one or more scenes. The grouping of the scenes in a chapter has a purpose — perhaps it’s comprised of one particular plotline, or a new character comes along, or whatever your heart desires. The chapter feature in Hiveword allows you to organize your chapters by specifying a summary or purpose and by assigning scenes to those chapters. Let’s see how it works…
First of all, chapters get first class treatment with their own menu:
You’ll see that the Chapters menu is consistent with characters, settings, etc., in that you can create, list, and sort chapters. I’ll talk about Scenes by Chapter later.
Here’s the relevant part of a chapter page:
You can see that I called the chapter “Beginnings.” I did that by clicking on the chapter name and editing it (by default it was “Chapter 1”). The Summary box allows you to capture whatever you’d like about the chapter. Note that scenes are still the main unit of work in Hiveword and chapters are just a layer over scenes. You wouldn’t want to put all of your scene summaries in the chapter summary box. Rather, describe the chapter at a higher level.
You can also tag chapters with any text you want. Tags work the same way as they do anywhere else in Hiveword.
Once you have chapters you can assign scenes to them with the Scenes by Chapter page which is the last option on the Chapters menu. Here’s a screenshot:
In the screenshot above I have three scenes. The first is already assigned to chapter 1 because I did that earlier. I now want to add the Bouldermort scene to chapter 2 so I selected it, chose the chapter in the dropdown, and pressed Save. Upon saving the page is refreshed:
So, out of my three scenes, two of them are assigned to chapters. Obviously, I can assign more than one scene to a chapter but selecting the ones I want. If you have a lot of scenes to assign to a chapter you can quickly select all of them by clicking the start scene and shift-clicking the end scene. Those two scenes and all of the ones in between will be selected. You can then continue like normal.
Now here’s the cool part. When you go to the chapter list page you get something like this:
On this page you will see all of your chapters, of course, but you’ll also see roll-ups of the scenes within those chapters! So, you can see at a glance the number of scenes in a chapter, which characters appear in the chapter, which settings, etc. The bottom row is simply a placeholder for all scenes that are not assigned to a chapter. Pretty nifty screen, huh? 😉
The last component of chapters is the chapter sorter. It works exactly like the other sorters but with one distinction that you should understand before you use it. The scene and character sorters, for example, merely sort the individual entries. Sorting chapters, however, implies that you are also sorting scenes. For example, in the screenshot above, moving chapter 2 to be first means that the scene in chapter two will be placed before the scene in chapter one. The same thing would apply if there were multiple scenes in a chapter — the whole range of scenes would move but the order within the chapter stays constant. Basically, where the chapter goes the scenes go, too. It makes sense and I believe it’s intuitive but I just wanted to mention that so that you’re not surprised.
Finally, I’d like to point out that using chapters is purely optional. You only need to do as much organization as you want to.
So, that’s chapters, folks! I hope you like it and feel free to ask questions or make comments below.
The Hive’s been buzzing lately with new features! As of today you can now copy characters, settings, and items between stories in Hiveword. Copying saves a ton of time if you are working on a series and need to get the same characters, for example, in each story.
I’d like to point out these are indeed “copies.” Copies are a snapshot of the source data at the time of the copy. Using a character as an example, this means that the original character and the copied character can change independently. In other words, the characters are not linked. I did it this way because a character’s “wants” in Story A could be different than his wants in Story B. This same logic also applies to settings and items.
I know what you’re thinking: “I know what ‘copying’ means, Mike, just tell me how to do it already!” Ok, ok! Sheesh.
Here’s how you do it:
Go to the story you want to copy to.
The characters, settings, and items menus now have a new entry for copying. Here’s the one for characters:
Click on the last entry to copy characters.
You’ll be presented with a page like this:
For each story you have (besides the one you are copying to, obviously) you’ll see the list of characters. In this example, I only have one other story. Simply click the characters you want to copy and click the Copy Characters button. Note that you can quickly select a range of characters by clicking the first character and then shift-clicking the last one. After you click Copy Characters you’ll be taken to the characters list for the story you copied to like in the following screenshot:
You can always go back and copy more characters if you’d like. If you do, there will be a subtle difference from the first time:
Notice that Hiveword knows that you already copied two of the characters and is warning you so that you don’t get unintentional duplicates. If you copy them again you’ll get another character in your story with the same name. If the source character changed in the interim, the new character will reflect that new data while your old copy will not. Remember, copied characters are snapshots in time and not links.
I hope you like this new feature. Let me know what you think in the comments. And stay tuned because a bigger feature is coming within the next week or so!
Based upon your suggestions Hiveword has some new features today:
- Track items or objects
- Manually sort characters, locations, plotlines, and items
- Automatic scene numbering
- New city, state/province, and country fields for settings
You can track important items (or “objects” if you’d prefer to call them that) just like you do for settings, for example. You’ll now find an “Items” menu item which allows you to add a new item and list or sort them. Here’s an example item:
As you can see there’s nothing new to learn here. Just create an item an describe it. You can also add tags as usual.
Once you have an item you can attach it to the scenes in which it appears. On a scene page you’d simply select one or more items to add to the scene with the new dropdown:
With items added to scenes you can now use the powerful filtering on the scenes page to quickly see where the item appears in the story:
Filtering scenes by item
In the previous screenshot you can see that I’ve filtered the scenes by the Guitar of Fire item. Any scene without that item is dimmed. (Note that you can also hide non-matching scenes by clicking the Hide Unmatched checkbox which is not shown in the screenshot.)
Finally, you can print items and they are also included in the story export file.
You’ve been able to sort scenes from the beginning with a simple drag-and-drop index card approach. Characters, settings, and plotlines were just listed alphabetically. Now, however, you can manually set the order in which characters, settings, items, and plotlines are listed. The logic here is that you can put the most used things closer to the top or perhaps group characters by family, for example.
All of the new sorters work the same as the scene sorter so if you’ve used that you know what to do. Here’s a screenshot:
Simply drag a character to the new position and hit save. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! 😉
By default, scenes are not numbered. However, knowing a scene’s position in the story can be very helpful so you can now toggle scene numbering via the “Enable Scene Numbering” submenu under the Scenes menu. When you have scene numbering enabled you will see the scene’s number wherever the scene is displayed such as the scene list, scene sorter, exported scenes, etc. Hiveword will always keep the numbers correctly ordered even if you sort scenes.
Here’s a screenshot showing scene numbers form the Scenes page:
Extra Fields in Settings
While not nearly as exciting as the previous new features you can now track city, state/province, and country in a setting:
Geographic info for settings
I hope you like these new features. If you have any questions or ideas please let me know either in the comments below or at email@example.com.
Have a great day!
NaNoWriMo is sneaking up on you. It’s lurking in the shadows, inching ever closer, hoping to suck you into its voracious maw on November first. And on that day it would be most unfortunate to be unprepared. Conceiving a story and rambling on to meet the word count will likely make for a bloody mess thirty days later.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Now is the time to prepare for NaNaWriMo. How? By putting on your thinking cap in general and using Hiveword’s suite of tools for writers in particular. The Hiveword platform is comprised of:
The Hiveword novel organizer
A set of prompts (integrated with the novel organizer) to improve your story via writing coach James Scott Bell’s Knockout Novel program
A writer-specific search engine for great articles on writing curated by Elizabeth Spann Craig
With the Hiveword background out of the way, here are some things you can do in advance to make November easier on yourself.
What’s Your Story?
Rummage through your story ideas and see what strikes you. Give some thought to a new story if you want. Once you know the story you want to go with start taking notes or maybe do some outlining (no matter how incomplete).
In the Hiveword novel organizer you can create a new story to capture all of your story ideas. There’s no limit to the number of stories you can have and you can refer to them now or years from now for inspiration. You also might consider applying writing coach James Scott Bell’s wisdom to your story through his interactive prompts with Knockout Novel. You can do the prompts separately for all of your stories to wring out issues with them and to hone them into the best stories they can be.
Create Some Characters
Brainstorming about your story will obviously cause several characters to come to mind. Bring those characters to life by jotting down some notes about their appearance, background, wants, etc. This can be as detailed (or not) as you want it to be. There are tons of character sheets on the web that you can use to flesh out your characters.
You can track all of your characters in Hiveword with its built-in character sheets. There’s even a built-in name generator to spark some ideas. The Knockout Novel part of Hiveword will really focus you on your lead and opposition characters to ensure that they really shine.
Start thinking about the scenes for your novel and capturing the essence of each in a few lines. You can do this in a Word document, spreadsheet, or even something as low tech as index cards. Regardless, your goal is to string together most of the scenes in your story so that you have an idea of how things are supposed to go. When you sit down to write there will be no time wasted while you dream up what to write next so you’ll work at maximum efficiency.
Tracking scenes is Hiveword’s bread and butter. You can make scenes, shuffle them around, and even attach characters, settings, and plotlines to each so that you know where everything goes. Powerful filtering allows you to see only the scenes that you want to focus on,such as all scenes with your lead character, for example.
You should now have a great head start on your story so that November is filled with nothing but writing. You’ll still have to think and create, of course — heck, that’s the fun part! — but you won’t be at a loss for what to write next since you’ve already taken the time to lay out your course. You’ll be super-efficient!
Hiveword is free so why not give it a try and see if it helps you make this November your best NaNoWriMo ever. The Knockout Novel prompts work within Hiveword and can be applied to as many stories as you like. Until November 1st, Knockout Novel is only $39 which is a savings of $10!
Good luck in November!
On Sunday I deployed a new version of Hiveword consisting primarily of user requests. So, keep those comments a-comin’!
Here’s what’s new:
- Scene Insertion
- Tag phrases
- Neutral characters
- MyWKB bug fixes
Clicking the New Scene button has always added a new scene to the end of your scene list. That works great if you can create your scenes in the correct, complete order from the get-go. You can’t? Shame on you. For you, the scene sorter!
However, Doug M. hit me over the head and said why not allow scene insertion? You know, the ability to add a scene directly where you want it in the list of scenes? What a crazy idea!
Now you can do just that via the Scene List or a Scene Detail page. On the Scene List page you’ll see a little plus symbol (+) next to scene names. Click on that and you’ll get a new scene before the one you clicked on. You can hover your mouse over the plus symbol for a description of what will happen.
If you happen to be on a Scene Detail page there are now two new buttons: Insert Before and Insert After. These, of course, will insert a new scene before or after the current one, respectively.
The New Scene button still appears on the Scene List and Scene Detail pages and will continue to add a new scene to the end of the list of scenes.
Before, when entering tags, typing a space would cause a new tag to appear. So, if you typed “Holy Hand Grenade” you would wind up with three tags in alphabetical order: Grenade, Hand, and Holy. Probably not what you wanted.
Turns out you could always do a phrase if you put the tag in quotes. Show of hands if you knew that. It’s right there on the invisible help page, after all.
While describing how to do a phrase tag to Kathleen H. I realized I needed to fix that to make it more intuitive. After all, programmers don’t like to write help manuals.
So, now phrases are the default. Type all you want and it will be a big phrase tag. Press Tab to start a new one.
Characters in Hiveword can be marked as Protagonist or Antagonist and further classified by importance. Garrath L. suggested a broader range of types. For now, I’ve added Neutral to indicate a character who is allied with neither of the primary forces.
In the future there may be more types when I figure out how to do it in such a way that it has broad appeal.
MyWKB Bug Fixes
If you’re not familiar with it, MyWKB is a personalized extension of the Writer’s Knowledge Base. If you have a Hiveword account you already have access to it with the same login. Two of its features are listing your searches (so that you can easily go back to them) and listing your recently viewed articles.
Both of those worked up until I upgraded a third-party framework I use for Hiveword and the WKB. (Insider secret: Hiveword and the WKB are actually one application. Shhh!) Unfortunately, the upgrade quietly broke the aforementioned lists. How rude! But with the latest update all is well again.
Hiveword and the WKB are under active development. Your ideas and inspiration help drive that. I love talking to you so don’t be shy about contacting me with ideas, questions, or things that annoy you.
Finally, thanks to Doug M., Kathleen H., and Garrath L. for the feedback that led to changes in the latest incarnation of Hiveword!