My creative background is in editing film and video. I am presently writing a film treatment/script for the first time. I’ve been on a software search and learning curve for the way I want to work on the project. Having demoed all the Usual Suspects along the way, I ended up purchasing and working with the following: OmniOutliner, DEVONthink, CP NoteBook, Keynote, NovaMind.
When I began this journey I did my brainstorming in OmniOutliner. I dragged articles, interviews etc. off the web into TextEdit or HTML files, and organized them in the Finder. That worked OK … but then I got this crazy idea in my head that I’d go looking for the Holy Grail.
First I discovered DEVONthink. I loved the features of Servicing material from the web, the AI classification of documents, and the searching tools. So I imported my existing database of TextEdit and HTML files, and transferred my OO text into DT.
Then I was introduced to NoteBook. (is anyone smiling because they’ve gone through this journey before me?) I was intrigued by the idea of a notebook structure and being able to incorporate photographs and illustrations. Working in NB the project evolved into a large sketchbook. The results of that work are now being transformed into a Keynote presentation.
The latest application to arrive in my life was NovaMind. I began using it for mind-mapping the structure of the film. I was quickly seduced by its graphical interface, and was actually tempted to do the writing there (you can have text or screenplay script attached to each branch). But what do you do with the drafts and ideas that don’t have a mind-map branch? And to access the text you’ve got to open a window for any given branch. I prefer the visual access of Note Pad View in DT, or expanded cells in NB and OO. And you don’t have the searching tools of DT or the indexing of NB.
Note: one cool feature is the Screenplay Preview, which consolidates the branch and attached text into a single document, based on the ordering of elements in the mind-map. If the screenwriting module improves by the time I’m ready, I may do the screenplay there because I do not enjoy working with Final Draft software.
But I digress, back to the thread …
Now I’m wanting to focus on the writing. To take the raw material and ideas … and draft it into the treatment, which will then hopefully develop into a screenplay. Being new to the writing process, I sometimes feel like I’m in a quandary about the method or approach in terms of my relationship to the software.
I do recognize that I have a desire to work in one place … a creative writing center for the project … rather than having the work spread out over two or three applications. But perhaps that is unrealistic? I’m comfortable bouncing back and forth from the mind-map in NM to the writing, but I don’t want to spread the process farther than that.
I’m currently working with DT to be that one place to write. But sometimes I encounter these moments when I wonder if I would benefit with NB or OO still in the process. The thing is I’m not certain why I get this feeling. But if you’ve experienced something similar, perhaps you can enlighten me?
As an editor, I worked with a project structure of bins … folders containing film clips, sound clips and still images. The folders would be organized by topic for the raw material and then by section as the composition developed. I’ve found myself structuring DT in a similar way.
At the top level my DT Browser folders are:
Act 1, Act 2, Act 3, etc. (for organizing scenes, one document per scene)
Characters (for keeping character/relationship notes, one document per character)
Ideas (the starting place for all my ideas, one document per idea)
Resources (articles, interviews, quotes, misc text, books, DVDs, CDs, images)
Drop Box (the starting place for clippings and images that I capture)
I would appreciate getting observations from outsiders such as yourselves. I’m so much inside my own writing box (inexperienced such as it is), and my learning curve of these applications, that I could easily be missing some perspectives on how this can be done.
The part of the process that I’m particularly wondering about is this … is there a better way to manage Ideas? As it is, when an idea strikes I quickly create a new document, do a mind-meld with the PowerBook, and toss the result into the Ideas folder. Of course this new idea could be two sentences or seven paragraphs.
As the composing process unfolds two things occur frequently.  I’ll ask myself, where does this idea go? Is this idea completely new and different? Or does it belong with/modify an idea that already exists?  I’ll discover that one or more ideas will consolidate into a new or existing scene.
During this process I find myself stepping through the documents in the Ideas folder, and scanning the document titles and their contents (Note Pad View). But like I mentioned above, sometimes I get this nagging feeling that perhaps I might be better off if I was using NB for notating and organizing these ideas … or using a linked OO file for notating and organizing these ideas. Then after they’re developed a bit, bringing the text into DT for writing the draft.
But I’m not convinced. Perhaps its just the large volume of Idea documents accumulating that is intimidating me. I do like being able to use the DT search tools and seeing all the related documents appear … even if some are only 1 or 2 sentence Idea documents.
OK, this is long enough. End it now or perish!
I’ve read the other threads here in Usage Scenarios, but would like to rekindle the flame …
I realize that some people prefer using outliners in their writing process and some do not. For those of you who have DT and NB, or DT and OO … do you use them both on the same project, and if so why? and if so how? And perhaps you’ll have some feedback relating to my process described above.