The O post for #26Tech A-Z Challenge profiles some excellent apps for outlining or structuring writing projects.
Writers discuss the pros and cons of being a pantser versus plotter a lot. A lot. Personally, the more I write, the more I understand that my own writing process calls for different outlining treatments dependent on the story.
Sometimes I am creatively inspired by using brainstorming structural apps (like Scapple, or Mindmapping Apps), sometimes I use linear outliners to try to plan out some starter scenes, sometimes I use cards, sometimes I go in and just start.
And this can happen in settings ranging from my desk, while driving somewhere, or sitting in a coffee shop or out on a sports park. I therefore need different tools to capture and play with all the ideas when they present themselves to me.
Power Structure (Windows and Mac)
Power Structure is story development and outlining software which comes at a bit of a price. The package contains templated guides to developing your full story structure and characters, with bonus audio training courses also. Templates available are for screenwriting, novels, television and the fictional hero’s journey.
There is a demo to download.
Website: Power Structure
Outline 4D (Windows)
For a similar price, Outline 4D gives you spreadsheeting to the max. Scenes or events are input into a columnar format, with timeline and element tracking views. Connect and track characters and events, or anything you want.
There is a 5 day trial version of the software. The software is supported by a comprehensive Learn Outline 4D website.
Website: there is no home website for Outline 4D. You can purchase it from a few writer software catalog stores such as screenplay.com.
MS OneNote (Windows – with Office)
Scapple and Scrivener (Windows and Mac OS)
Scapple is now my favourite free-form brainstorming, structural project and mindmapping desktop app. By Literature and Latte, this inexpensive desktop app also is integrated with popular writing app, Scrivener.
Of course, Scrivener and many other full-featured writing apps are perfect for outlining and structural work too, because they allow for drag and drop of scenes or text elements and reordering.
Scapple was profiled in the #52Tech post of March here. Scrivener (and some alternatives) was profiled in the F post for this #26Tech series.
A 30 day trial of Scapple and Scrivener is available before purchase.
Website: Literature and Latte: Scapple.
OmniOutliner 4 (Mac OS and iPAD App)
Website: Omnigroup / OmniOutliner
Webapps for Outlining
Workflowy (Webapp with iOS and Android Apps and Desktop app via Chrome browser)
The free service allows for 500 Workflowy items per month – but only the one list. Promoting the site to friends gives you extra, or you can subscribe to Workflowy Pro, for $5 per month. The Pro version have access to unlimited lists, Dropbox backup; and private access for collaboration of the workflow items.
Lists collapse and expand, can have hashtags and other markers against items, and items can be crossed out when completed.
The Outliner of Giants (Webapp with desktop support)
Designed with researchers and students in mind, users of TOG sign on via their Google account credentials. The free service has some limitations, but still allows for exports as OPML, access through any browser and device with online access, and export into Google Docs.
Collapse and expand outline trees. Nodes or outline items support rich text added via textile, markdown support or a rich text editor. Add links via URLs to anywhere – ie. Dropbox files, or Evernote shared notes. Desktop apps are offered through the Chrome browser, or Mac Fluid app.
Paid accounts can publish outlines (the free service only supports private outlines).
Website: The Outliner of Giants.
Mentioned above, both Workflowy and OmniOutliner have full-featured iOS Apps. Others to consider –
Outline+ (iPAD – also on Mac)
Outline+ by Gorillized is a fully featured outliner app, but comes into its own for integration with MS OneNote notebooks. Although OneNote does have iOS and Android apps, many people – including me – recommend Outline+ instead. Outline also is available as a Mac App.
The app looks much like OneNote with a structured tabbed environment, and listmaking functions. Of course, it syncs across OneDrive with OneNote shared notebooks also. iCloud, Dropbox, Box and Livescribe 3 smartpen support.
There is a free version available to trial.
Cloud Outliner (iOS and Mac) with Evernote Integration.
Cloud Outliner lets you create and share outlines between your Mac and iOS device (iPAD, iPhone or iPod Touch) but the reason I love it is because of the solid integration with Evernote. The app creates a notebook inside Evernote for syncing outlines, and this is two-way – changes in one note list are synchronised back and forwards.
I wrote about Cloud Outliner on iPAD in December 2013 – the image you see here is of my outlined Christmas shopping list.
Website: Xwavesoft Cloud Outliner
Idea Sketch App (iOS, Windows 8, Windows Phone)
The environment allows you to create diagrams such as mindmaps, concept maps or flow charts – which can be converted to a text outline. Or you can go the other direction – create a text outline and convert to a chart. Ideas can be shared via PDF, Email, Dropbox or OneDrive etc.
Website: Idea Sketch
Outline Pro (iPhone and iPAD)
Website: Outline Pro
Outliner by CarbonFin (iPhone and iPad with Webapp)
Website: CarbonFin Outline.
Note: This is not the same as Outliner on Android, although that app looks good also.
Appstore: Plotline (iTunes)
Story Skeleton (iOS) with Scrivener support
Story Skeleton is similarly focused for the writer, providing prompts in structuring a story into acts and scenes, using an Index Card format. What sets it off is the Scrivener support – Story Skeleton can export and import Scriv files, but only Scrivener Mac users with freeform corkboard, can work fully with these.
Story Skeleton was profiled from a Windows perspective in an early post for the #52Tech series. It has also been mentioned in the I post (Index Cards) for this #26Tech series.
Story Skeleton website.
Many index card apps (featured in the I post of this series) and Mindmapping apps (featured in the M post) should be considered for outlining usage also. Of interest, take a look at Cardboard Index cards for Android, which comes with inbuilt novel structure cards.
More Outliner Apps to consider for iOS:
- MagicalPad HD – an interesting app combines freeform workspaces with notebooks, text inputs, drawing, multi-media attachments and linked outlining via mindmapping. With integration to social media, Evernote and exports in the normal formats.
- Ruminate – a digital whiteboard and mindmapping app for outlining but also with some strong citation or reference collection capabilities.
More Outliner Apps to consider for Android:
Note: I have not personally tried these unless noted. Aside from Workflowy, the following may be worth contention.
- Outliner App by Alfred Fritz – looks interesting. Also Outliner Pro.
- NoteLynx Outliner – with wiki links, night and day themes.
You will find the other posts under tag: #26Tech or an index post will be provided on May 1st.
A to Z: in April you will find other bloggers providing A to Z posts on many topics, through the 2014 Blogging from A to Z Challenge.