Roleplaying, Plot Bunnies, and the Quest for Decent Software.

So recently I’ve booted up my AOL and taken a stroll through the member created chat rooms. Yes, this is apparently still a thing, though nowhere near as popular a thing as it was back in 2010, the last time I did that. Shortly after, I came to the decision that I’m going to begin chatroom based roleplaying again. For me it’s a great stress reliever, and I can get some really wild story ideas that way, and meet some really interesting people. Some of my closest friends I’ve never met in real life, but I met this way. They come from all walks of life with only one major thing in common – they love storytelling and creating characters. Anyway, not going to get all wordy on the subject, as it’s not even the main focus of this post anyway. Let’s just say, I decided to get back to my old hobby of chatroom roleplaying stuff like DnD inspired stories and such.

This leads into the creation of many plot bunnies. Many…. MANY plot bunnies. What is a plot bunny, you ask? Why, it’s an idea. Just the base fundamental idea that a person begins to create a plot, or story around. And after starting to play again, plot bunnies mated and made more plot bunnies than I knew what to do with.

And then I realized…. I finally had something I could use all of my old unfinished and unpublished novels for. Now, they went unpublished mainly because over time I grew bored with them. I didn’t think they were good enough. (And this isn’t just me being critical of my own work. Seriously, they are sooooooo badly written and poorly developed that even Twilight is a better read than these things!) All of my older work is based on my roleplay characters that I created. And since I decided to redesign the characters, their world, and rewrite their histories, I found that much of my old novels could be adapted and transformed by breathing new life into these characters. The only problem was… How would I store the new information in an easy to grab format? In my younger days, I had my computer desk, then I had my work desk. I had my push pins, my sticky notes, my Rolodex of information to cross-reference, and my shoebox and desk drawer full of loose random idea notes. I had maps, both store bought and hand drawn, with notations scribbles all over them. With permanent marker lines redividing up the United States into post-apocalyptic territories and city states…

But my life now? None of that would work. None of that would fit in with my lifestyle as it is now. And to adjust my lifestyle to fit that need… It isn’t practical. First off, I’ve got a toddler who gets into everything he can reach. All available excess space is divided up between hubby’s costume/prop business and our son’s play area. The only 2 spaces I currently have available from which I can get any work done in my home is at my kitchen table or sitting in my bed. No, seriously, those are my only current viable options.

So… I needed a new approach to information storage. I needed a new approach to note keeping. Already, I utilize the file system native to the Windows OS, as well as the Sticky Note feature. I make my notes in Notepad or Wordpad, depending on if I need colored text or not for outlines and highlighting important information. I make files devoted entirely to reference images and sketches… But it’s not as tightly organized as I need. And requires that I stop typing, minimize, open another window, and then travel down the rabbit hole looking for the correct file folder, then the correct sub folder, and so on until I eventually find the correct file I need. Open it, and then what? Sometimes I’ve forgotten entirely what I was doing and my flow of writing is stopped for the day, sometimes the week.

So, of course, I turned to Google for an answer. I kept finding people recommending a program called Scrivener, but unfortunately I’m in a financial situation where every little thing is tightly budgeted. And I can’t spend money on something like that, no matter if it was $5 instead of $40 when that $5 is exactly the amount I need to buy diapers. Gonna get the diapers every time, my friends. Every. Time.

So, I refined my search for open source software. My goal was to find something similar enough to Scrivener, because after reading about the features it offers, and looking at screencaps and how-to articles, once I became accustomed to using it, Scrivener is an ideal choice for my specific needs. But again – price is an issue. And since in my house we do prefer to go with open source software whenever possible (more from personal philosophy rather than cost issues in the majority of cases), that was the way I needed to go.

In my quest for good novel writing and organizational software, I found yWriter5. It looks promising. I’ve only been playing with it for a few days, but already I like the feel of this software. It’s clean, it’s easy, and it’s got very little in the way of frills – which is exactly what I need to keep from getting distracted. There is a learning curve, don’t get me wrong there. But once I’ve used it enough, I’m sure I’ll be like second nature to me.

In the meantime, for anyone interested, you can get a copy of Scrivener here and a copy of yWriter5 here.

Also, I’m writing a book. I’m still working on my Tarot book, but progress on that is slow at best. I’m still making spreads, and I’m still testing them out before committing them to my files. But it’s slow going, as I require testing the spreads with multiple decks and of different deck types. But I’m still plugging away at it!

As for the other book, it’s merely in the world-building stage at the moment, and I am hoping to self-publish most likely as an eBook or something of that nature. So far, I’ve got 2 ancient secret societies, an ancient alien God King, a cult that tries to summon forth the forces of Hell, and a main character who can only summon the dead and speak to them while standing next to a Slurpee machine in 7-11 convenience stores. The tentative tile is Hell’s 7-11.


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