Author Topic: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software  (Read 4927 times)  

Offline BillyDeCarlo

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Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
« on: June 20, 2017, 10:39:09 am »
Yesterday I bought K.M. Weiland's Outline Your Novel software ($40) and I've been messing around with it to get my head around the third novel in my series, before I sit down to actually write it. K.M. has a great blog that has a lot of useful info (Helping Writers Become Authors). So I thought I'd start a thread about it to post my thoughts as I go through it, and perhaps for others as well.

Disclosure - I didn't read the book, but I've read a bunch of books regarding better outlining/planning techniques. I think this one is on my to-read list so maybe I'll have to bump it up.

The good news is that it doesn't rely on any knowledge of the book. It seems to be a fun, easy way to do the basic due diligence around thinking out what a book will be about, what its premise is, main characters, etc. I think from that perspective, that it's not rigid, it will be useful for pantsers as well. K.M has a blog post about using it at http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/use-outlining-novel-workbook-software/ and there are videos there that will help folks become familiar with it prior to buying. Prior to spending money like this, I always ask myself whether it will save me time and make me more efficient and able to write better books. That seems to be the case so far.

As I was just getting into it, I was thinking about whether I should be doing the work here, rather than in Scrivener, because that's what i usually use. The tools in this software are much better developed for this initial planning stage though, and it's MUCH simpler than Scrivener. I was thinking "It would be great if this thing could export to Scrivener" and voila, I saw that it does. It also has some cool features such as a music playlist option for when you are working on different parts of your novel.

I'll post more as I go through it. No connection other than as a new customer. I don't personally know nor have I ever communicated with K.M.


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    Offline antcurious

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #1 on: June 20, 2017, 03:38:03 pm »
    I'm interested in this too. Keep us posted on how you're getting on with it!

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    Offline BillyDeCarlo

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #2 on: June 20, 2017, 04:30:53 pm »
    I really like that it's getting me to think through some stuff that I've put off in the past, wanting to get directly to the writing. For example, it has you build the story premise, just two sentences, and gives excellent examples from well-known books to guide you. Each section has those examples. It's kind of fun that way.

    Then it takes you to a section asking you to just go ahead and think about and identify what you think will be some of the "big moments" in the story. It's sneakily getting you to build some scenes, without all of the drek of actual outlining and worrying about what goes where yet. It then sneakily offers to move that list of big moments into a scene list.

    It's kind of fun and getting me to think ahead, and that will be very beneficial as it will lead to fewer roadblocks later, as I'm well into the story and find myself typically saying "Uh-oh, I don't know where to go from here..."


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    Offline Word Fan

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #3 on: June 20, 2017, 04:42:54 pm »
    I have started to check this out and will be watching the videos. It definitely looks like something that I might want to invest in.

    Thanks for letting us know about it and, yes, keep us updated with your feedback.

    Offline Susanne123

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #4 on: June 21, 2017, 02:04:12 am »
    This does look good.

    Can you print pages in this program? Do they look okay? I'm thinking of printing them out to put in a binder.

    Thanks Billy.

    Offline BillyDeCarlo

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #5 on: June 22, 2017, 06:03:00 am »
    A few more observations on this software. It's definitely not a Scrivener replacement - more of a way to flesh out the idea for the book before getting into Scrivener. It allows a good platform for kicking ideas around and facilitates building out the premise, blurb, big moments, things like that.

    The user interface is pretty clunky. It's built from a database program, not a traditional programming language, which limits the UI greatly. It's kind of like an older dBase III or Paradox or Visual Basic app with some non-intuitive aspects and hidden gems. For that reason, it's critical to go through the short, simple videos that K.M. has put on the article that I linked earlier.

    By doing that, I found that instead of just listing my big moments on the screen for that, I can press the Structure Skeleton button to pre-fill in the slots with things like Inciting Event, Key Event, 1st Plot Point, 1st Pinch Point, etc. That will be MUCH more useful in helping me flesh out the book! And I didn't realize that by clicking the reverse icon to the left of those that it would then allow me to further define each big moment, as far as what conflict it presents, etc. Extremely useful!

    The biggest usage tip so far is to go through the program sequentially, section by section, by using the arrows in the upper right. Don't try to go through it using the menus, because you'll miss things. By going sequentially, you get to each page in a natural order as far as building out your story idea. I'm not quite there yet, but my plan is that once I've built it out to morph my big moments into scenes, and then fill out the rest of the scenes, I'll export it to Scrivener and get busy writing those scenes!

    So far, so good. Well worth the price, because it's kind of fun and really stimulates the creative juices.


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    Offline BillyDeCarlo

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #6 on: June 22, 2017, 08:04:18 am »
    One big complaint is that I didn't see a trial offer. Maybe it's money back if you don't like it, but there should be a free trial.


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    Offline 75814

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #7 on: June 22, 2017, 08:35:15 am »
    One big complaint is that I didn't see a trial offer. Maybe it's money back if you don't like it, but there should be a free trial.

    That's what's holding me back. It looks really slick, but I wish there was a demo.

    Offline deanna c

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #8 on: June 22, 2017, 01:24:03 pm »
    I just purchased the PC version to give it a try...

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    Offline antcurious

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #9 on: June 23, 2017, 01:28:38 am »
    I just purchased the PC version to give it a try...

    Please let us know what you think, there aren't many independant reviews online.

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    Offline Susanne123

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #10 on: June 24, 2017, 05:42:15 am »
    This does look good.

    Can you print pages in this program? Do they look okay? I'm thinking of printing them out to put in a binder.

    Thanks Billy.

    Found the answer in the tutorial,

    "You can export the Scene List section as separate text documents, which you can then import into Scrivener (or Word, etc.) for further editing. The Scene List section is currently the only section that offers this feature. However, you can also print the rest of the program as pdfs (you will need a pdf printer, such as Cute PDF, installed on your computer), and then import the pdfs into Scrivener. These will be Read Only and cannot be edited anywhere but within the Outlining Your Novel Workbook program."

    Offline caarsen

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #11 on: June 24, 2017, 05:57:03 am »
    I love K.M. Weiland's blog and her podcasts are also very, very helpful. I like to listen to them while I'm walking or driving. Her book, Creating Character Arcs is also a book a highly recommend to writers starting out. so I was excited when I saw this software. I'm starting a new project so it's great for that. And Billy was right. Go through it step by step as she builds on what came before. It's a fun program and I have discovered that I can run it on two computers which is helpful as well. Anyhow I really recommend this program and any of K.M. Weiland's books. She has an intuitive grasp of story and a clear and concise way of bringing that across.

    Offline Lady Runa

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #12 on: June 24, 2017, 06:01:33 am »
    BillydeCarlo, thank you very much. I've been toying with the idea of buying it as I'm a big fan of her books on novel structure. I find them very insightful. One thing I don't like about Scrivener is that it lacks this particular feature, helping one to plot a novel. All that Scrivener really does is help you organize your notes. Nothing else. But I've just bought a bunch of other books on novel structure (of which I wholeheartedly recommend Actions and Goals by Marshall Dotson - it's a gem!) so I thought that spending another $40 would be rather self-indulgent  ;) But now I think I probably should do it. Thanks a lot!
    « Last Edit: June 24, 2017, 06:04:13 am by Lady Runa »

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    Offline CASD57

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #13 on: June 24, 2017, 07:50:47 am »
    Not to be a stick in the mud but isn't this like Novel Factory ?

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    Offline 75814

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #14 on: June 24, 2017, 08:16:03 am »
    Not to be a stick in the mud but isn't this like Novel Factory ?

    There are lots of different story structure programs out there and many of them have a lot of similarities. Just like with word processors, project management, etc, you have to find the one that works best for you. That's why I'm a little disappointed this one doesn't have a demo so I could try it out.

    Offline Lady Runa

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #15 on: June 24, 2017, 10:23:42 am »
    Not to be a stick in the mud but isn't this like Novel Factory ?

    I've looked up Novel Factory and no, I don't think so. Novel Factory appears to be very similar to Scrivener with a few improvements - it allows for a few very basic extras like "Synopsis", "Character Questionnaires", "Submissions", etc. Apart from one mysterious feature called "Advanced plotting", it doesn't seem to have anything allowing you to actually plot the whole thing. Weiland's software is all about structure: it wants you to decide which types of scenes should go into each act, details of plot points and character arcs, etc. etc. For a plotter like myself, it's procrastination heaven :)
    « Last Edit: June 24, 2017, 10:25:34 am by Lady Runa »

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    Offline SA_Soule

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #16 on: June 24, 2017, 11:58:35 am »
    Please let us know what you think, there aren't many independant reviews online.

    Let me know how you like it. It looks interesting, but before I invest, I'd like to try it out first...

    S. A. Soule

    Offline Word Fan

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #17 on: June 24, 2017, 07:26:08 pm »
    As soon as I get my bills budgeted for the month, I'm going to buy it.

    Offline #############

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #18 on: June 25, 2017, 05:20:04 am »
    The one thing I didn't like about the software is that it doesn't allow you to import anything other than the scene list. All the character description and backstory work and any other planning done in the program does not get imported into Scrivener. Only your scene list. And it's not as easy as a one button push, either.

    Also, it only works on 64 bit windows, not 32.

    I loved her books and wanted to love this program. In the end, I couldn't.

    Offline BillyDeCarlo

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #19 on: June 25, 2017, 05:36:31 am »
    The one thing I didn't like about the software is that it doesn't allow you to import anything other than the scene list. All the character description and backstory work and any other planning done in the program does not get imported into Scrivener. Only your scene list. And it's not as easy as a one button push, either.

    That definitely needs to be fixed. For that reason, I don't do any character development in this software, I'll save that for Scrivener. I'm just using it to flesh out the story enough to jump over to the power tools. I let K.M. know about this thread (I don't know here, but posted a comment to her article about the software), so hopefully she and the programmer are monitoring it for things that need to be improved.


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    Offline Will Kurth

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #20 on: June 25, 2017, 10:58:43 am »
    Thanks for the post.

    As I get ready to start my third novel I am seriously considering actually outling. The first two 140K & 140K words respectively I just wrote with zero outlining but those were books that were already knocking around my mind to begin with.

    Now with a series it seems I might benefit or at least become more efficient with a structured plan of attack. I'd like to give outlinining a shot my self, thanks for plunging in.

    Offline Dr Luck

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #21 on: July 05, 2017, 09:53:35 am »

    I love K.M. Weiland's blog and her podcasts are also very, very helpful. I like to listen to them while I'm walking or driving. Her book, Creating Character Arcs is also a book a highly recommend to writers starting out. so I was excited when I saw this software. I'm starting a new project so it's great for that. And Billy was right. Go through it step by step as she builds on what came before. It's a fun program and I have discovered that I can run it on two computers which is helpful as well. Anyhow I really recommend this program and any of K.M. Weiland's books. She has an intuitive grasp of story and a clear and concise way of bringing that across.

    I was wondering about this as I'd need it on my laptop for travel as well as desktop. So that's neat if true. Also, I understand the exporting limitations, but do you know whether text can be simply copied and /or pasted to and from the software from other programs? I'm thinking Evernote and/or Word etc.

    Offline TheNovel Factory

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #22 on: August 30, 2017, 02:58:53 am »
    Not to be a stick in the mud but isn't this like Novel Factory ?

    Thanks for the mention!

    Someone actually pointed us at KM Weiland's program when it first came out, and there are definitely some similarities, but I think the main difference is that her program focuses on the outline only, whereas the Novel Factory continues from the outline to allow you to actually write your drafts, track your progress with statistics etc.

    We are big fans of KM Weiland, and find her methods and approach to novel writing align quite closely with ours, with lots of common ground.

    The Novel Factory - Write faster, write better. http://www.novel-software.com

    Offline TheNovel Factory

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    Re: Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software
    « Reply #23 on: August 30, 2017, 04:04:14 am »
    I've looked up Novel Factory and no, I don't think so. Novel Factory appears to be very similar to Scrivener with a few improvements - it allows for a few very basic extras like "Synopsis", "Character Questionnaires", "Submissions", etc. Apart from one mysterious feature called "Advanced plotting", it doesn't seem to have anything allowing you to actually plot the whole thing. Weiland's software is all about structure: it wants you to decide which types of scenes should go into each act, details of plot points and character arcs, etc. etc. For a plotter like myself, it's procrastination heaven :)

    Hello!

    Have you seen the Story Skeleton section of the software? This is the main area for doing plotting at the moment (though we are currently working on drag and droppable, colour codeable subplot manager, which should be out in the next few weeks - though online only for the moment) and it allows you to create digital 'cards' for various story elements, label them and shuffle them around.

    The story skeleton also comes with some optional integrated story templates such as hero's journey, character driven hero's journey, romance horror etc, which writers can use as a starting point for inspiration and to make sure the underlying structure is robust.

    It also has an optional 'Roadmap' which is basically a step-by-step method or plotting and writing a novel - taking you from premise, through structure, character development, drafting and editing the final draft. Obviously this is more useful for new writers, and experienced writers probably won't use it, but I thought I'd mention it as an example of how the Novel Factory is geared for the full novel process from idea to publication.

    If you're a plotter and you haven't had a go at the free trial, then I think you might love it...

    The Novel Factory - Write faster, write better. http://www.novel-software.com

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