Hiveword Blog

Technology and Writers



Gender and Sexual Orientation

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on May 18, 2015 6:59 am

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.

Sexual Orientation

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!




Organizing Chapters in Hiveword

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on February 17, 2015 7:13 am

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.





Copying characters, settings, and items between stories

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on February 2, 2015 6:57 am

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!




New Hiveword Features: Track Items, Sort Stuff, and More

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on January 6, 2015 10:31 am

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

Track Items

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:

Sample 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:

Dropdown for adding an item to a scene

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

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.


Manual Sorting

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:

Sorting characters

Sorting characters

Simply drag a character to the new position and hit save. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! 😉


Scene Numbering

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:

Scene numbers

Scene numbers

 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

Geographic info for settings

 Wrap Up

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

Have a great day!




How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on October 13, 2013 9:08 am

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!




New Features in Hiveword

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on November 13, 2012 8:09 pm

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

Scene Insertion

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.

Tag Phrases

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.

Neutral Characters

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!



Hoping for the Best — The Perils of Pantsing

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on October 10, 2012 8:32 pm

Today I’m over at Angela Ackerman’s The Bookshelf Muse blog talking about the perils of writing by the seat of your pants. Oh, and maybe what you can do about it. 😉



Hiveword review by Lynn Viehl

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on September 16, 2012 9:53 pm

Lynn Viehl posted a review of Hiveword today on her blog.  Check it out at Thanks, Lynn!



Free online novel writing software for NaNoWriMo

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on September 8, 2012 5:22 pm

You know NaNoWriMo is going to be here before you know it, right? Now’s the time to get a jump start on prepping your novel before the writing process begins in November. Don’t waste writing time figuring out scenes, characters, plotlines, and all that jazz  in the heat of Nano — it’ll just slow you down and maybe make you miss your goal. You don’t want that.

What you might want is a free, web-based novel organizer to help you through the planning process. That’s right, Hiveword is now free so you can use it any day, any time, any where, as much as you want for no cost. Use it for Nano or any novel you might be working on.

I hope you find it valuable in planning your novels. If you like Hiveword and the Writer’s Knowledge Base why not help out your friends by spreading the word? Both resources may help them with their novels and I’d appreciate it immensely. Thanks and good luck during November!




Personalized Writer’s Knowledge Base

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on September 1, 2012 7:54 pm

If you’ve used the Writer’s Knowledge Base (WKB) you know it’s a search engine that only contains articles relevant to writers. Search for “plot” and you’ll only get articles on how to plot your novel and not the myriad contexts that Google would give you. The WKB works great for that.

However, the WKB could be so much more. Something a bit more personal. So, Elizabeth and I are  pleased to announce the launch of MyWKB. It’s the same good ol’ WKB but tailored to you.

What’s it do?

You can

  1. List and sort articles without searching
  2. See which articles you’ve read
  3. See your search history

This is just the beginning of the planned features so expect more in the future. Numbers 2 and 3 are fairly self-explanatory but let me tell you a little more about the list/sort feature.

As you know, Elizabeth tweets a bazillion writing-related articles. Before MyWKB the only* way to get at the articles was to search and while you got the best results they might have been from a year ago. The list feature gives you a chronological view of the tweeted articles that you can sort by date and website. Want to see which articles Elizabeth tweeted yesterday? You can do it. In fact, MyWKB will show you the articles you missed since your last login.

Speaking of logins, MyWKB does require an account to provide the personalization features. Without it I can’t properly personalize your experience. Rest assured, however, that MyWKB is free. Also, if you have a Hiveword account you can already access MyWKB. Simply sign in with your Hiveword credentials.

Hmm, I wonder who’s article was the first to be added to the WKB? MyWKB knows…

I think that’s it for now. You can sign up for MyWKB here. If you have any questions, comments, or feature requests please feel free to comment below. Contrary to what you might have heard about programmers I would relish the interaction. 😉

* By “only way” I mean on the WKB, of course. You can always get the tweets from Elizabeth‘s Twitterific post every Sunday or via her tweetstream.