By Julie Eshbaugh
All writers have tools they can’t work without. We here at PubCrawl covered a range of writing tools in this post in January, and many of you added to our list in the comments. My fellow PubCrawlers and our readers endorsed everything from the simplicity of a notepad and pen to the complexity of Scrivener and other writing applications, but for me, I always ended up with good ol’ basic Word. Anything more sophisticated overwhelmed me. (Sorry all you Scrivener lovers! I know it works for a lot of people but after several tries I had to admit that it doesn’t work for me.)
Then one day I stumbled upon Hiveword.
Hiveword, the brainchild of Mike Fleming, is a free (yes, FREE!) web-based novel writing organizer. It’s stellar in its simplicity, but also in its ability to sort and manage all the elements of your story. It does this by getting you organized around your story’s basic components – scenes, characters, settings, and plotlines. You can sort through your story and see it arranged by the main plot and subplots, view your scenes and drag them around and re-order them, or search for all the scenes that contain a particular character or setting. You can even track scenes by POV. There is a character sheet for each character, and Hiveword even contains a character name generator. Tags allow you to mark a scene with key words, such as Plot Point I, Act II Midpoint or even To-Do.
You get all of this without having to download a thing! Hiveword keeps all your data on the web, so you can access it from anywhere, at any time. Everything backs up instantly and automatically. Start as many stories as you have ideas – save just an opening image, a character sketch, flesh out an outline, or write your complete novel. When you’re ready to export your story, it’s as simple as a click.
To help get you started, Mike provides a sample story perfect for all us Harry Potter fans – Harry Porter and the Guitar of Fire. The sample story contains a list of six characters, two settings, and a synopsis of three scenes from two of the story’s three plotlines. I clicked around in the sample story for a while until I began to understand the tool. After opening a new story and using the components to start piecing together my own ideas, I really “got” the benefits of Hiveword and how it can help me stay focused without distracting me.
I was so excited to have found Hiveword, (and just in time for NaNoWriMo!) I reached out to Mike to thank him for sharing it and ask if he would answer a few questions for this post. Mike is super-accessible to users of this tool, and he got right back to me and agreed! Thanks Mike!
How long ago did you launch Hiveword?
Hiveword was officially launched in 2011 but I had the idea in 2008. Development started at the end of 2009 but goofing off and trying to make my full vision a reality caused significant delays. I also put Hiveword on the back burner during this time to build the Writer’s Knowledge Base (WKB) search engine for writers.
(Guys, if you follow @ElizabethCraig on Twitter and have ever wished that you could find all her links in one place… you can! That’s what Writer’s Knowledge Base is! Mike built it in collaboration with Elizabeth. Make sure you check it out!)
What inspired you to create Hiveword?
I had a big idea! However, what you see in Hiveword today is not that big idea, unfortunately. I still want to do that big idea sometime because I think writers will absolutely love it.
Do you have any idea of the number of users?
What’s your vision for the future of Hiveword?
I’d still like to achieve my original vision for Hiveword because to my knowledge nothing else comes close. In the meantime, I’ll likely add notes and pictures, both of which are frequently requested.
Also, not sure if you’re aware of it or not, but Hiveword is actually an interoperable suite of tools for writers. There’s the novel organizer (Hiveword proper) but built on top of that is the Writer’s Knowledge Base (which is a search engine for writers) and Knockout Novel (which is a set of prompts by writing coach James Scott Bell).
Thanks, Mike! I’m intrigued by this “big idea” you speak of, but for now I am more than happy using Hiveword. And thanks for mentioning WKB and Knockout Novel – both of which are awesome and would merit their own posts on this blog.
So… I think it’s obvious that I could gush all day about how much I value this tool, but I think a better plan would be to send you over to Hiveword.com so you can check it out for yourselves. While you’re there, check out the other writing tools Mike mentions above – Writer’s Knowledge Base and Knockout Novel. Then sign up for your Hiveword account and start setting up your story ideas, because…
There are only 15 more days until NaNoWriMo!
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you spent any time outlining, creating characters, or brainstorming scenes to get ready? Do you believe a tool like Hiveword would work for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
Mike Fleming, creator of Hiveword, the Writer’s Knowledge Base, and James Scott Bell’s Knockout Novel, is a software developer with 20+ years of experience in the field and a wanna-be writer for longer than that. Follow Mike on Twitter @hiveword.