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Really tiny reviews for creating, organising, analysing and reorganising writing

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The Scrivener 3 Corkboard is at the other end of the spectrum from the simplicity and ease of the Writer's Cafe Pinboard. It really is very Scrivenerish. Now, I am no expert on Scrivener, let alone the new Scrivener 3 and some of my observations may be due to ignorance of the precise menu or setting that would have produced a different outcome. Whereas the WC pinboard is only really suitable for brainstorming and early development (and reminders), the Corkboard seems as if it ought to be capable of detailed organisation and reorganisation. There are certainly enough options.

The question, for the purpose of this review, is whether delving into them is likely to be a productive use of my time. And it didn't take me much thinking to know that the answer is 'No!'
To explain - the corkboard has a freeform option the same as the pinboard, but it also has the linking lines as seen in the WC Storylines feature, as well as a grid view option. Relevant controls exist at the bottom of the Corkboard pane, and in Corkboard options under the view menu; there's also an entry on the Navigate menu ('Corkboard Selection Affects'). Whereas the WC Storylines allows cards in the same position on every line, thus giving a freedom of choice about exactly what the lines represent, the Corkboard allows only one; moving them along shuffles them on other lines and will also change the sequence of the linked section in the binder. The analogy is that they represent scenes in a book and two scenes cannot be in the same place on the same page (though while this is true for conventional text books, it would not necessarily be true, for example, in picture books and need not actually be true in text books, though I wouldn't like to format an ebook to achieve this; many textbooks don't have this arrangement either). Additionally there are labels and icons etc etc, but I'm already fatigued.
The point is that it doesn't simplify anything unless you have a book that is already structured on Scrivener lines - and, given the extent of interdependence of the features, being constructed entirely within Scrivener.

And I used to be such a fan of the corkboard!

I have never been assimilated into the Scrivener system, but I have dipped into it at times for individual tasks where Scrivener had especially useful features. I anticipated that ought to be the case here with my project, but I can already see that the amount of work I would need to do to get it in, and the reading and learning I would have to do to use it, is way over the likely benefit. And the lack of flexibility over the 'track' feature makes me doubt there would be any benefit at all.

Really tiny reviews for creating, organising, analysing and reorganising writing

As everyone will know, Notezilla is a sticky note program where the notes can be coloured, formatted, resized and moved around freely (including on top of each other) - just like the WC Pinboard. But it has a few extra tricks in its locker which extend it's range of use.
The first of these is noteboards. So instead of one pinboard there are as many as desired - and notes can be dragged between them. (You can have more than one pinboard on WC, but the process and use is much more laborious.)
Also tags.
And the notes can be attached to windows, so although the text is not directly linked to writing content each note can be stuck to a file in which you are writing.
Word and character counts are helpful. Ability to do reminders, todos etc could sometimes be useful too.

From the perspective of the review, the advantage of the memoboards is that they allow the notes to be structured and organised. They act like folders in a file explorer, thereby giving a hierarchical structure as in outliners including Scrivener. So the notes can be organised in any way, reorganised easily at any time, and the system can contain different types of organisation at the same time.
For example, if someone is writing a novel, they could brainstorm and develop characters, or groups of characters, on one board with places etc on others. Plot, events and scenes could be worked up in a different group of boards. It would be possible to write up those scenes in full on the notes, arrange the folders and sequence exactly as in Scrivener and then export the whole as an HTML file (or CSV or individual txt files) - a full book written in Notezilla; I wouldn't suggest anyone did this - there are too many useful features in editors in writing programs that would be missed - but it is possible.
There's also the possibility of synchronising across all devices ($14.95 pa), making for easy cross-platform use.

For my project, this is looking like a very attractive option. It is simple, flexible and very visual. Organising and reorganising is easy and adaptable. Cross-platform and sync. With the added bonus of CSV import and export, it's starting to look as if Excel, AeonTimeline 3, Mindomo and Notezilla could be the core of a complete creative and organisational writing system for all types of writing.

It wouldn't suit anyone who likes the support of an integrated structured system as is found in most programs aimed at writers. There's no suggested structures or recommendations or pre-existing links between different components of the writing system.

Really tiny reviews for creating, organising, analysing and reorganising writing

I've combined the two programs into a single review, because they appear to be essentially the same program, with the Jutoh version updated, and somewhat simplified.

Like the corkboard/pinboard programs, there are cards, but they have (optional) straight linking lines (horizontal or vertical) and the background is arranged as in a table or spreadsheet and each card has to be in a cell. In Jutoh, there can be more than one card in a cell but not so in Writer's Cafe. This sounds like the lines option in the Scrivener Corkboard, but, imho, it is much more useful because there can be cards in every cell in a column. The original idea was that rows would represent chapters and rows, but they can be configured and that allows huge flexibility in how they can be used.

For instance, let us imagine plotting a country house murder. The rows could be set to rooms and the columns to times. Cards could represent characters, each character having one card per column; on that card could be written what the character was doing. As the plot was developing, and options were being considered and changed, the cards could be moved around between the rooms, until they fitted. Some of the fit would be designed to provide descriptions when the surviving characters were interviewed - it would be clear who and what they could see at the time in question. Part would be to detail the movements of the murderer and the murdered. Some to grant, or hide, lines of vision. And then to plant red herrings. All this can be done using the cards to check it out and to record the relevant plot details. As only Jutoh allows multiple cards in a cell this would only work with Jutoh; images can be used in both.
Columns could be times again, but the rows could be arcs, giving a description of what is happening with each arc. Moving the cards as necessary to produce the best integration of events in all the arcs. Tags could be used to indicate whether the events were in the narrative, or omitted.
Or the columns could be characters, and the rows too. Reading across, could give the row character's feelings/perception of the column character (including self). Only half the cells would be filled, of course. This use though might best be done on a table or spreadsheet, if there would be no value in changing the position of the cards.
Or or ...

I've gone into some detail of possible usage in an attempt to illustrate the difference between this and corkboards and spreadsheets. It isn't a tool to be used in the brainstorming or early working out stages of a project (other techniques are better for that), but it can be very useful when starting to work out some details. And yet it is very simple and easy to use. The text in a card can be linked to the text in the narrative, and can actually be the primary writing screen if it is preferred.

Unfortunately neither version has a dark mode which will limit my own usage a little - but I can mitigate this by doing most of the Storyboard work in full screen mode (F11) which can hide all the glare. There are a number of differences between the versions, but, personally, the multiple cards in a cell clinches it for Jutoh. I'll use that anyway for formatting.

Really tiny reviews for creating, organising, analysing and reorganising writing

In my mind, I was thinking of programs such as Dynalist and Workflowy when I considered outlining as one of the approaches. I've actually used Dynalist for this purely because I have it on this computer and don't have Workflowy. I believe that this is right at the opposite end of the spectrum to Timeline 3, being best for brainstorming and early development. The brainstorming is easy - writing ideas as they come, each idea being a branch from the previous idea or a new one. Complete freedom to go up and down and put new ideas in whenever they spring into being. Once there are enough ideas, they can be shuffled around - potentially many times - until a structure starts to develop. There's nothing fixed about what sort of structure it ought to be and nor, yet, is there a need for a sequential list of scenes. Pictures, photographs and other files can be attached to the appropriate bullet. Focus is improved by being able to fold/hide all the branches that are irrelevant, and Dynalist has hoisting so the single branch can be elevated on its own. Many writers have never felt the need for anything more than outlining for both brainstorming and development. Plottr has templates for beat sheets, Hero's Journey etc, but it is easy enough to do in outlining with the beats as main nodes.

It's never really worked for me. They're useful when I'm in full flow, but simply don't provide me with the stimulation I need when I stutter to a standstill. I'm aware it's just me. I find drawing, mindmaps, diagrams - anything visual - helpful; I find spreadsheets helpful because I can work backwards from target wordcounts into structures and see what is still needed (and what definitely won't work); but, when ideas and words aren't flowing naturally, outlining doesn't trigger them. So they won't help me with my current problems until and unless something else gets things going, and the words flow again. When words do flow, outlining can be good because it's a fast and efficient way to capture the ideas produced (at the risk of requiring a structure that doesn't properly represent the relationships of the ideas).

The Story Board is very simple and an analogue of the corkboard/pinboard except that it includes chapters (left column) as well as scenes (remaining columns). You can shuffle chapters vertically and scenes within and between chapters. That's it.

It could be quite useful for working things out, it is well integrated into the program, but it's more for minor adjustments than problem solving.

The storyline editor shows who does what, where and when in the story. It' a visual record of where in the story different props, places, characters etc appear. That's it. Personally, I'd remember that for all major players and the display would be far too confusing to try to apply it to minor ones. I accept that it can be helpful to have a record of such details, but I'd question the value of a separate tool to display them.

So, neither useful for my purpose.


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