Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Storyboarding on a Shoestring with Software: FREEBIES for writers

Since storyboarding is a way of visualizing and sequencing the events of a story in the most compressed way possible, the computer is a great medium to do so.  Many programs are available for those who prefer a neater layout than can be done by hand.  Also, it is a great timesaver.
Sure those yellow legal pads can be cheap, but there are many software programs that can be downloaded for free, either permanently or on a trial basis.  A few are more expensive, but may be worth the investment for writers who want a program with all the extra features.
When I talked about writing a novel my sweet husband gave me Dramatica Pro.   It’s an investment, but I learned so much about the process of plotting, character development and so much more. If you love to plot like me, it’s a fun tool.  If you want more information about the features of this program, you can find them here.
One note on story software: It is of course a tool to be used in the writer’s hands.  It can provide as little or as much structure as you want.  If you are like me and love organization, it is easy to become overwhelmed and think we should use all the features of a program.  Does it save you time?  Does it help you organize your story?  Does it do so in a way that is visually appealing to you?
My husband and I took a storyboarding seminar this summer and were amazed at how many programs are available to help the writer.
Here are a few free options:
Freemind is a completely free mind-mapping software written in Java. 

yWriter is another free program from Space Jock.  It’s a word processor that breaks your novel into scenes.  You can see a storyboard view of your chapters, reorder your scenes, automatically renumber your chapters, and make a separate word count for every file. 

yWriter Main Page

yWriter Storyboard

yWriter Index Card system

Microsoft Power Point is great if you like using the index card approach and prefer using the computer.  You can reorganize your cards.
Don’t forget about Microsoft Word, which most people already own.  Great features include:  split screen, outline screen, map screen, end notes, table of contents, index terms, comment and bookmark .  These allow planning and tracking your story right on the screen.  I encourage you to spend a little time "playing" around in Word.  It can be a worthwhile investment.
Sherrinda inspired this post by Kaye Dacus about using Windows Sticky Notes to organize scenes. 
Software can be a fun tool to help organize and structure your story.  You may want to try downloading a few of these software options and giving them a try.  With a free price tag, you have nothing to lose!  I had fun organizing my story using Dramatica Pro and I plan on using it to plot my next novel! 


Sarah Forgrave said...

Ohhh, Julia, a woman after my own heart! I knew there had to be at least two of us plotting geeks around. Well, okay, I won't call you a geek, but as you'll see in tomorrow's post, I definitely am one! :)

Angie Dicken said...

This is so interesting...had no idea there was stuff like this out there! Thanks for the post!

Renee Ann said...

Great downloads! Thanks for the tips! Blessings!

Julia M. Reffner said...

@ Sarah, LOL, yes, feel free to call me a "geek." I don't mind. I'll happily call myself one. Can't wait to read your post :)

@Angie, You're welcome. I hope you find something that helps you.

@Renee Ann, I hope you enjoy the programs. They might be helpful for your students, too.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Julia, this is so fascinating to me. I never knew there were programs like this out there until you mentioned it--and I've been writing for awhile! :D I love plotting and the more organized I get with it, the more I think about some kind of system (or software) that might keep me on track. Thanks for the info today!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks Julia,
Sure appreciate your techy knowledge. I didn't know that Word could also do those things. I need to play around with it more.

Larry Kollar said...

Freemind is great, I've been using it for years, but I wouldn't consider it a storyboarding program.

OneNote (part of the PC version of Office) would also work if you have a PC.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

LOLOLOL...this is so funny. Not your post, but the fact that I have yWriter and haven't used it. I've been searching online for a tool to use like index cards, so to see it in yWriter just made me laugh! Sigh...I need to take the time and figure yWriter out, I suppose.

Great post, girl. Sorry I didn't make it over yesterday.

Pepper said...

Okay -posted but it didn't come through. Ahhh...life.
So, I kind of like the idea of Freemind -since it seems to work with visual thinkers like me. I'm going to give it a try tonight...Maybe!
Thanks for the post, Julia.
And Farfetched....I'm a BIG fan of OneNote, but that powerpoint idea sounds cool too, Julia. And you can easily insert pics (visual)

Anonymous said...

I've been using Power Point for years to design and develop handbooks and resource manuals. Duhhh - never even considered it for organizing my book(s)! Thanks for the reminder how useful the e-index cards could be.

Anonymous said...

I've been using FreeMind for a few months now and I like it, but I really like XMind--also free, though I purchased the Pro version.