Olaf Bryan Wielk is co-founder of Beemgee.com. Before creating this web-based outlining software, he worked for some of Germany’s largest publishers. He moved to Berlin in the 90s in order to teach at the Humboldt University, having studied English Language and German at Glasgow University. He was born in Hampshire, England.
Writing stories is a craft. Practitioners of a craft use tools, and authors are no exception. Let’s look at some author tools.
The first typewriters went on sale in 1874, having been invented a couple of years previously in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Oddly enough, index cards - that other classic author tool - were invented, at least in their modern form, around the same time by Melvil Dewey.
The era of the typewriter lasted just over one hundred years. Word processing programs took over as the foremost writing tool at the end of the 20th century.
But lots of authors still use index cards to outline their stories.
Writing vs Outlining Tools
As an author, there are two skill sets that you must master:
- Dramaturgy - the ability to compose a narrative that has an emotional effect on the recipient, i.e. that keeps the reader reading
- Writing - finding the right words to express your narrative in your own personal style and with your own unique voice
The first you might do with index cards. Or you just jot down notes in a blank book. I have heard of authors who outline their narratives on a huge roll of paper they spread on the floor. But what software is there out there for this vital part of the storytelling process? See below.
The second activity you do with pen and paper, a typewriter, MS-Word, or some more specific author program like Scrivener.
Installation Software vs. Native Apps vs. Browser-Based Tools
Many authors still use MS-Word. This colossal classic does pretty much everything you expect of a text-editing program. It’s feature stack is so huge that most users aren’t even aware of all it can do. You need to install it on your desktop computer.
Scrivener is a text editor that caters to the needs of authors. A few features that Word has are missing, but Scrivener provides cool add-ons to help you organise your manuscript. It's also quite inexpensive, considering how much you get. You need to install it, but there is a mobile version nowadays.
Modern apps make it easier to access your content across several devices through integrations with iCloud or DropBox. The Ulysses writing app’s selling point is the clutter-free user experience. You concentrate on writing, without all those pesky buttons and menus and options. The design is modern and the interface functional.
Browser-based tools make it even easier. You don’t need to install anything on any device, and you don’t need to save your files in any cloud or webserver. You just open your project in your browser and go. Novlr provides a sumptuous web-based text editor. Technology has advanced so far that some web-based tools do not even require an internet connection.
What about the dramaturgy?
At Beemgee you don’t even need to register or log on to use the free part of the service. Every new project has a unique link - every time you open that specific project link, you get to the latest version of that project. The software is always the latest version too - no need to update. Beemgee is not a writing tool. It is a story development web-app with which you structure narrative and grow characters. Discreet dramaturgical advice throughout the outlining process helps you conceive your story.
See the special offer for the Writers Boon community here, Writing Software.