You guys know me…I sort of have a thing for writing tools. I love to find & share them with writers. One that I keep right in my toolbar is the Writer’s Knowledge Base, a search engine for writers. Yep, think Google for Writers. It’s awesome, and even better, customizable to your likes & remembers your searches!
So, I sort of kidnapped Mike Fleming, who is the brains behind WKB (with successful mystery author and Twitterific Guru, Elizabeth Craig). A software developer, Mike creates tools that make writing so much easier and he’s here to tell you about his newest website, Hiveword, so please read on!
‘Hoping’ For The Best
I live in Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay. We have the Bay Bridge to quickly get us across the bay to the land of blue crabs and Ocean City. There’s talk of building another bridge over the bay to accommodate the expected traffic increase over the next decade.
Sounds good, right? The problem is that the public and newspapers are blasting Maryland’s civil engineers for their decision to save money by doing no design or impact planning of the bridge. They’re going to quickly pick a spot, dump off some materials, start building, and hope for the best.
Obviously, taxpayers are furious at the state’s waste of time and resources. But Justin Kidd of the State Highway Administration famously said “We’ll be as surprised as the public when the bridge is completed but this is a great way to allow the bridge builders to showcase their craft and create something wonderful. It’s going to be great.”
Luckily, the paragraphs above are a dream sequence. While it is true that Maryland is considering another span across the bay the state would not even begin to consider building a bridge by the seat of their pants. Time, money, rework, safety issues, and wasted materials would all factor in to make the project a disaster.
How about your novel?
Doing no planning at all is like the sheer hopefulness of the the fictional Mr. Kidd. You start your novel, go with the flow, write some scenes, and hope that in the end it all comes together in an artful, thrilling, satisfying whole.
Good luck with that.
Going with the flow will cost you time and money. It will cost you time because during the writing process you’ll have to conjure up the next scene when one is finished. Rework will kill you, too. You’ll have to go back and potentially do multiple drafts as you fix the mess you made in the first draft.
How can no planning cost you money? Because the time spent rewriting, rewriting, rewriting is time you could be spending writing another novel. The first one could be out the door making you money while you work on your next book. Do you want your current novel to be your life’s work or do you want to get it done?
So, the solution, of course, is to do some degree of planning up front. It’ll give you a road map or vision of where you want to end up so that you can get there as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Another benefit of planning is that you can make all of your decisions while changes are the least painful as they will ever be. Isn’t it easier to to make a wholesale change to a plotline described at a high-level in a spreadsheet versus making modifications to who knows how many scenes in a 100,000 word document? It’s much more effective and efficient to thrash at the beginning of your writing process rather than at the middle or end.
There are tons of ways to organize your novel ranging from note cards to full-blown novel organizers. I happen to offer a free online novel organizer called Hiveword that you can use today to start getting your novel under control.
Hiveword tracks scenes, characters, settings, plot lines, POV, etc., in a simple-to-use interface. Hiveword is purposefully built just for novel organization so it already speaks your language and is optimized for the task. Unlike a spreadsheet, for example, it makes sorting and filtering scenes super easy. Best of all it’s completely free.
It’s OK if Hiveword’s not for you. I understand. But you can use note cards, a spreadsheet, outline, or any of the other novel organizers to make the process of writing your novel less frustrating and more efficient. The important thing to remember is you still have the freedom to deviate from your outline if a better idea comes along. You don’t need to be a slave to the outline.
The next time you start a novel why not try to plan it first? I bet you’ll be happy you did rather than simply hoping for the best. How about you? Do you find planning more efficient or does the siren song of just type-type-type work better for you in the long run? (See what I did there? 😉 )
Mike Fleming is a software developer who runs two sites for writers. Hiveword is his online novel organizer and the Writer’s Knowledge Base (WKB) is a search engine for writers. The WKB now has personalized features for accessing the 18,000+ articles on writing as curated by Elizabeth Craig. Both Hiveword and the WKB are free and share a common login!
A lack of organization can sometimes mean the difference between starting a novel, and finishing one. If you’ve been looking for a way to keep everything in one place to keep you on track, I hope you’ll check out Hiveword. Nano is fast approaching, so this might be a great time to try it with a new project!
Oh! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that WKB also has a newsletter, which features some of the most popular searches month to month, and a ton of other useful content for writers. I enjoy reading it, so check it out if you like! 🙂
Okay Musers…do you know/use Writer’s Knowledge Base or Hiveword? If you could create the perfect Writer’s Tool, what would it be?