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!
You can now track notes in Hiveword Plus*.
Notes can be attached to most things: stories, scenes, characters, etc. You can also have unattached notes that are not part of any story.
Here’s an example of notes for a scene:
The notes popup is embedded in the scene page. The normal scene textboxes and such are right below the notes so you can refer to your notes if needed or close the notes popup to get it out of your way.
The notes textbox is resizable and the entire notes popup is, too, so you can see exactly what you want. There is no limit to the number of notes you can assign.
All of the other pages — characters, settings, etc. — have the same way of managing notes.
Eventually, you’ll have notes all over the place. It sure would be nice to see all of them in one place, wouldn’t it? Behold:
The screenshot above is the notes list page. It shows all of your notes from any story. On the screenshot you’ll see an “Unassigned” note. This note is not connected to any story.
The notes list also has filters that operate the same way as the scene filters. With these filters you can easily find just the set of notes you need.
Notes can also be tagged. Sensible tagging will help immensely as you accumulate more notes. Here’s a good example: I’m using unassigned notes to track my story premise ideas. I tag the notes “premise.” From the notes list page I can select the “premise” tag via the filter and only see my “premise” notes.
Do you have any clever ideas for how you’re going to use notes?
* Hiveword Plus offers extra features in Hiveword. Currently, Hiveword Plus is half price during development so be sure to take advantage of that if you like the features.
Hiveword update time!
The big news is notes that you can attach to pretty much anything — scenes, characters, etc. The notes are taggable and you can view all of them in one place with a powerful filter for finding what you want. Notes are part of the Hiveword Plus upgrade. I’ll talk more about notes in my next post.
The Scenes by Plotline page lists scenes vertically and then plotlines as horizontally. This allows you to quickly see how plotlines weave throughout your scenes. The feature itself has been around for a while but the plotlines were ordered by name. Since users can manually sort plotlines it makes sense to present them in the user’s sorted order and not by name. Now it is so.
Eventually I want to make the application properly customizable. But, since that is a low priority, I’ve boosted the font size in the textboxes in the meantime. I hope this makes your eyes happier. I know it does mine!
Are You Sure?
If you’ve ever edited a scene, character, or whatever, and then tried to leave the page without first saving it you have seen the “Are You Sure?” dialog that saves you from losing data. But, boy, was it ugly. I mean UGLY. Now it is less so. 😉
That’s all for now. While no one complained about Are You Sure?, the rest of the changes were user requests. So, don’t be shy about contacting me with suggestions.
Until next time…
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 or click the link above. 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.