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Notes for a Novel: revisiting (Read 26074 times)
Mark Bernstein
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Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Dec 24th, 2010, 5:18pm
 
Jeff Abbott kicked off one of the classic threads in this forum a couple of years ago:

    http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/forum//YaBB.pl?num=1199812821/0#0

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Hi all, I'm a Tinderbox newbie. I'd like to use Tinderbox to organize detailed notes for a novel. I've written ten suspense novels (published in fifteen languages), and have also written film treatments for studios. I've done most of my work with analog methods and the Inspiration outliner. Tinderbox represents a new way for me to work and I wondered if I might get some advice.



A correspondent who is new to Tinderbox just remarked to me that lots of the posts here discuss very advanced details. I'd like to bring this up again, both because lots has changed in Tinderbox since this discussion, and also to welcome new Tinderboxers who might enjoy a broader conversation!
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JeffAbbott
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #1 - Dec 30th, 2010, 10:40am
 
I'm glad I started a "thread classic". I still use Tinderbox, and my use of it still remains fairly straightforward; I'm sure I'm not tapping the program's full potential. I'm on deadline right now and so will be brief, but am definitely interested in what others say.

Mostly I use Tinderbox in its most basic form: an outliner. When I'm first thinking of scenes or characters for the novel, I'll sit down and just write notes, either based on scenes that occur to me, or details about characters and their motivations, their strengths, their faults, their conflicts. It's very similar to writing on index cards. I'll sometimes think of several alternative forms a scene could take and will write them all down. Or details of a character, from his overarching motivation to minor details. Finally I'll reorder the scenes or information in more useful ways (such as a dramatic arc for one character, or a traditional three-act structure). This sounds simple and unglamorous but it sets the foundation for the book. I love to see the map view, which is like how I used to use a sketchbook to visually map out my earliest books; and always suggests interesting new relationships between characters/ideas/plotlines.

I don't use prototypes heavily. I switch between map and outline. I haven't figured out how to use timelines but think that could very useful for novels (I opened a timeline view and was immediately lost and gave up--easier to sketch it out on paper, I guess). I don't really keep my research in Tinderbox because when I'm out doing it it's simply easier to keep that in notebooks and I don't bother to transcribe it into Tinderbox. I still do a lot of plotting/planning on paper (index cards and Circa notebooks from Levenger) and would probably do better with Tinderbox if I transcribed more of those notes into the program, instead of just outlining with it. I don't write drafts in Tinderbox, as some do.

I've tried to interest a couple of other writer friends in Tinderbox when it seemed it might fit their needs, but the learning curve put them off. Many writers are not very technically minded (myself included).
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Maria Lima
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #2 - Dec 30th, 2010, 7:32pm
 
Jeff!! I should've known you were here! I just bought Tinderbox thanks to the guys over at Scrivener and am scratching my head. Thanks, Mark for posting the link to Jeff's original thread. This is really helpful.

I'm a novelist, as well, 5 books under my belt, alongside several other fiction/non-fiction projects and I'm a pantser. I don't outline, but I do visualize--mostly by scribbles on a piece of paper. Tinderbox sounded like the way to go.

Currently, I'm working on a couple of new proposals to send my agent and want to dig in. I tend to learn by watching, so the screencasts are pretty awesome. I am a bit on the techie side (my day job), so I'm looking forward to learning more and more.

Cheers!
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Martin Boycott-Brown
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #3 - Dec 30th, 2010, 8:14pm
 
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I'm also a new user having purchased through the Scrivener offer (very welcome it was, too -- thank you very much) and I'm fully expecting to be thoroughly confused for several years to come. I very much feel the need of enlightenment from others.

Best wishes, Martin.
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Mark Bernstein
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #4 - Dec 30th, 2010, 10:51pm
 
I have known pahtzers from to time to time, but what is a pantser? And does one answer?

Seriously, welcome all. Tinderbox is a lot simpler than it seems. though many of us use it to wrestle with nettlesome and tangled problems. There are lots of pieces, but you don't need to worry about the parts you don't need.

Please don't be shy of mentioning your projects, incidentally. Plasma physics, crime, history of science, Afghan relief efforts, litigation support, and a musical  -- just a typical day of Tinderbox tech support around here! But why should we have all the fun?
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Maria Lima
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #5 - Dec 31st, 2010, 3:13am
 
Mark, a "pantser" is a writer who tends to write "by the seat of one's pants" - as opposed to doing a formal outline. That's me, 100% - tried the formal outline, hated it. Felt that the story was done.

I tend to visualize more than anything, which is what I hope that Tinderbox can help with. Scribbly boxes on paper scraps != good way to do this.

Cheers!
(BTW, I write an urban fantasy series for Pocket books)
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JeffAbbott
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #6 - Dec 31st, 2010, 1:27pm
 
So glad Maria is here--she is a smart writer and I will be very interested to see how she uses Tinderbox. I outline more than she does, but like her, I really like to see the visual map of the story, it always suggests new depths of character or plot to me. And outlines should be fluid, to accomodate evolving ideas, and they can be with Tinderbox.
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JeffAbbott
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #7 - Dec 31st, 2010, 1:30pm
 
Maria, you might also want to check out the world building thread.
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AGHorne
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #8 - Jan 2nd, 2011, 8:59am
 
What is the "Scrivener offer" that Martin is referring to?
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Mark Anderson
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #9 - Jan 2nd, 2011, 9:03am
 
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Maria Lima
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #10 - Jan 2nd, 2011, 12:31pm
 
Aww, thanks, Jeff! (and thanks for the info on the world-building thread!)
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Hugo Hamilton
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #11 - Jan 5th, 2011, 6:35pm
 
Thanks for the reference to the old writing thread, Mark. It's full of fascinating info - just what I was looking for.
Hugo
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Stacey Mason
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #12 - Jan 5th, 2011, 6:51pm
 
It might also be worth noting that Tinderbox has a Flickr group to which I've uploaded several screenshots of writers' organizational practices.

Note particularly maps created by Mike Wrenn, Susan Gibb, and Steve Ersinghaus (here, here, and here respectively).
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Hugo Hamilton
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #13 - Jan 5th, 2011, 7:31pm
 
Thanks Stacey. I'm very visual and that site shows me a lot that I hadn't quite figured out yet.
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Maria Lima
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Re: Notes for a Novel: revisiting
Reply #14 - Jan 6th, 2011, 11:15am
 
Awesome pics! Thanks, Stacey for the links.

As Hugh is, I'm also very visual and learn best by seeing examples. Smiley

Other authors: feel free to share screenshots.  Wink
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