Organize my story!
July 28, 2010 3:41 PM   Subscribe

Organize my story!

I need a way to keep my notes about my screenplays organized. A simple linear text document isn't cutting it anymore. Basically I want the equivalent of a bulletin board with a timeline on it- so I would have the horizontal line representing page 1 and page 110 and all points in between.

And then along this line I could "stick" notes about characters, scenes, whatever. I just think it would really help to see it laid out visually along the line and not in flat text.

This could be either software or a physical object. The caveat on the latter is I'd like to be able to carry it in a messenger bag, and take it out in a coffee shop with disturbing others too much. All other things being equal I'd kind of prefer physical, because it might make a cool artifact of the process.

Any ideas are appreciated! Thanks!

(I saw this, but what I'm looking for is not 100% as simple as a timeline.)
posted by drjimmy11 to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
"withOUT disturbing others"
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:42 PM on July 28, 2010

If you use a mac, Scrivener is designed to do what you want.
posted by special-k at 3:45 PM on July 28, 2010

Thanks, but I currently only have a PC laptop. And I want to stick with Final Draft for the actual screenplay.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:50 PM on July 28, 2010

I was going to recommend the P.G. Wodehouse method of writing, as mentioned here.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:50 PM on July 28, 2010

Seconding scrivener. Has everything you need.
posted by Namlit at 3:51 PM on July 28, 2010

I'm thinking ... accordion cards. But not three or four folds. 110. One for each page. Maybe postits to help you find your place. Just flop it open to the five or six page sequence you want to review.

Something like this.

No. Not that.


Or maybe just a scroll rolled up on two sticks.
posted by notyou at 3:56 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thirding Scrivener. You want it. You need it.
posted by barnacles at 3:57 PM on July 28, 2010

Thirding Scrivener. You want it. You need it.

Thirding that I do not work on a Mac, and that I have no interest in using their screenplay functionality which even they admit can't compete with Final Draft.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:02 PM on July 28, 2010

Something like this with post-its might work. It would be portable.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:04 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

notyou, you're in the ballpark. The problem with cards is that 1) page numbers and total number of pages change all the time and 2) I need to be able to see the story as a whole laid out before me. That's the one thing I really really need.

The scroll is very close! I just would need a way to stick things on it that i could remove, edit, and move around.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:04 PM on July 28, 2010

I have a Mac, I'm a working screenwriter, and I think Scrivener is overrated. Have you tried Evernote? Does it come close? That's my go-to solution currently.

Back in ye olde days, I had a rolodex-knockoff from Staples which allowed me to flip and shuffle my scenes/notes on index cards.
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:08 PM on July 28, 2010

betweenthebars, that is damn damn close. I wish the fold-outs were larger and longer, but I might be able to make it work...
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:08 PM on July 28, 2010

That reminds me: my other low-tech solution is an actual scroll of kraft paper. I call it my Scrawl, and it's mounted on the wall with a decade of ideas written on it, but you could use post-its instead and tote it with you.
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:11 PM on July 28, 2010

I think betweenthebars has it, actually, although I would still like to hear other ideas.

Just to be clear, I am not after the "notecard" solution so much- scene A card followed by scene B card, etc... While that is of course useful, it only lets you really look at one scene at once. For the way my brain works, I think it would help me to visually "see" the entire story laid out from beginning to end, all at once.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:21 PM on July 28, 2010

I am a working writer - when I want something portable, I use:

*a sheet of paper turned to landscape, dived into four equal horizontal sections
*a bunch of small post-its
*...a pen.

So then I think of the four sections as the four sections of the screenplay (1st act, 1st half of 2nd act, 2nd half of 2nd act, 3rd act). And I put all my big scenes on the little post-its and move them around until it works.

I know you wanted something that was 10 linear feet of storytelling awesomeness, but I find the horizontal stripes method easier to work with: it takes up less space, and I can see at a glance which parts of the story are over- or underweighted relative to the other parts.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:25 PM on July 28, 2010

Nothing beats a whiteboard for easily-revisable visual planning. In your shoes I'd buy this or this and transport it in this, supplementing w post-its as necessary (so you can move ideas around).

Caveat 1: I'm a whiteboard freak: I'll recommend them if your problem is visual planning, but also if your problem is eg rampant acne or a disobedient dog.
Caveat 2: Brainstorming here; I've never tried this myself.
posted by foursentences at 8:20 PM on July 28, 2010

(Don't actually buy the specific objects I linked to -- if you do, your whiteboard won't fit in your tube. Illustrative only. This tube will fit the linked boards. Mea culpa.)
posted by foursentences at 8:48 PM on July 28, 2010

« Older Technical Trainer Job Interview Help   |   what's a normal bedtime? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.