We’ve all heard of software designed to help us produce a fully-fledged book rather than just a document. Scrivener is one of the best known; it has tools to “manage the writing environment” rather than just write.
It seems there’s a new product on the market. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds promising.
For Michael Green, a US data scientist turned novelist, the need to use technology to simplify and streamline the writing process came when he was in the middle of writing his first book.
With 500 pages of a complex story written, he recalls that the process had become difficult to manage: “In the midst of editing, I got to the point where I started feeling like I had a lot of plots and characters.”
“I had all these documents on the deeper aspects of the world I was creating. I was worried about being able to keep track of it all. That’s when I switched into my more data science-minded approach to solving a complex problem with a lot of different pieces.”
The end result was that Mr Green created Lynit, a digital platform that helps authors visualise, plan and weave together the various elements – such as characters, plot arcs, themes and key events – that form a story.
The app is now in its beta stage, and is being tested by a number of writers. Currently free to use, users can draw and update intricate digital templates or story maps.
Mr Green says that many novelists begin their work with little more than a general idea of a plot or a particular character. With Lynit he says that the process of adding to this initial idea is simplified.
“As the author gets a new idea that they want to bring into the story, they are able to input it into a natural framework. They’re building a visualization.
“Piece by piece, they’re adding to the story. As new ideas come in, they change, maybe by creating new nodes [or interactions], new relationships.”
There’s more at the link, including a discussion of more technological help available to writers.
I’m not sure that I need software like that for my current output, although for longer, more complex books I’m sure it’ll be a Godsend. I find it more than helpful enough just to have a browser open next to my word processor, with twenty to thirty tabs open at any one time, digging out information about this ship, or that item, or the weather, or space navigation, or an Elizabethan diet, or Otzi’s clothing, or… or so many things!
To most of our predecessors in the writing world, that sort of tool would be an unimaginable luxury, and would probably have increased their writing output manyfold. Imagine Shakespeare writing pulps!