The enforced swap over to my laptop until my new computer arrives (which is taking like forever!) has had both good and bad effects. The bad ones are to do with the screen being so much smaller than I’m used to, meaning that I can’t design anything on it and also if I stay on it for more than 15 minutes I get a headache. I ended up with the first full blown migraine since I was 13 on Thursday! So I’m having to limit my screen time 😦
But the good news is that I’ve found programs on the laptop that I never knew I had – and one of them has proved an absolute star turn for organising my research data. Because I know that those out there who write history also have loads of notes and sometimes can’t find what they want, I thought I’d let you know about my new discovery. It’s called OmniOutliner and it came bundled with my laptop applications. Unfortunately it’s only for Macs at the moment (which makes a change as most software I want is only for PCs) but I think there are several Windows applications that perform similar tasks.
Why is it so wonderful? Well, at last I can organise all my quotes or information bites for my Despenser books in one place. Yes, I could have done that on filing cards or Microsoft Word or Excel – but this looks and performs better. For example, I can put the info into the left hand pane and then create columns in which I can classify the info, as being about Hugh or not, whether it refers to any date, what book/article its from, and whether it is further referenced from a primary source (see pic below).
Once all the info is in I can then organise it in whatever order I want (date etc) and use it to structure chapters and so forth. OmniOutliner can also help to sort out synopsis planning, time management and everything else that a list freak like me needs to operate. I’m in heaven!
In addition there is another useful program I discovered some months ago called Bee Docs Timeline which can be seen here. With it I can see the events for a particular date/year for several individuals at a time, meaning that I can get a really good view of the bigger picture. Once again though, this is only available for Macs (I know, you PC users are probably swearing at me right now – sorry. No, actually, I’m not sorry – go and get a Mac 😉 ). Perhaps if any of you use similar programs that work on Windows or other platforms, you could let me know in the comments section. It would be great to have a list of tried and tested resources for writers to have at their fingertips.
Which, in a roundabout way brings me to my next topic… I am in the middle of setting up a forum aimed at writers (and readers) of medieval history (fact and fiction) – although anyone else is of course welcome. It will be a sort of ‘sister’ forum to Alianore’s Edward II Forum (which, if you haven’t already, I urge to to go and have a look at ). The difference will be that Alianore’s is more to do with discussing the actual historical side of Edward II’s reign whereas mine will be more general (in time and theme) and will have topics relating to our lives in the here and now (and all the joys and woes of writing), fun and games and also, hopefully, a place where we can post applications we find useful (as above).
Until the new beast gets to me I can’t do too much as I need to do some design work on the template – but it is already half way there and I reckon it will be up and going in a couple of weeks. I really hope that you will pop over and join me there for a mug of ale and a chat. And, in the meantime, if there are any topics you would like to see up on the boards, let me know. All things considered (within reason).