Mailbag: Novel Outlining Approaches

Here’s a couple of interesting bits from the mail bag this past week. The theme? Novel outlining approaches!

University student Alessandro Cuttin used the Fast Book Outliner to create detailed study notes for the modern physics and operations research courses he had taken; his plan is to share them with his fellow students. UPDATE: the download links are down due to bandwidth issues… I found the entire idea enthralling, even though the notes are in Italian and I have to imagine what awesome things are being described…I am fond of sharable outlines :-) On a side note, the FBO seems to have potential for more than outlining books; I’m looking forward to investigating that more this year. More than one writer has suggested to me that this might be a good tool for planning books, which I find absolutely fascinating.

Adriano Ferrari sent me a link to Ginko, a novel multi-column outlining web app. Ginko lets you build “trees”, which are sort of like a Mindmap bonsai, structured into a click-friendly map of your ideas with ever-increasing levels of detail. You can easily reorganize blocks of text by dragging-and-dropping within and (with some limitations) between columns. Adriano provided some links to screenplay use, using Romeo and Juliet and Alien to demonstrate how the concept works. I think it’s pretty cool, and it’s a bit reminiscent of Trello in that it unfolds a lot of data in a manner that works both for high-level and detailed thinking. Check out the FAQ for a quickie intro, and sign up here to give it a spin and let them know what you think.