While I’m trying to solve the problems of creating the text for the hypertext thing I’m working on, the Pirate is trying to solve the problems of the workspace to create it and the interface that people will use to read it.
I tried using Storyspace, but although I suspect it’ll do the thing I want, I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. I think I’m going to have to call customer service and have a real live human being walk me through how I would go about creating what I want. It doesn’t help that the documentation is awful. I’m trying to figure out how to connect two nodes together, but it’s all about how those things relate to each other in the first place, and each time they refer to a link or a piece of text or a window, they call it something different.
The problem is, I suspect that I’m devoting all this time to solving the data representation problems solely to get out of doing the writing. I know me. This is exactly the sort of thing I would do.
This is the basic problem of perfectionism: I get myself so freaked out about getting every single detail right that I am immobilized, afraid to even start lest I get started going in entirely the wrong direction. My father has exactly the opposite problem. He takes things on for which he has no qualifications and even less of an idea of how to proceed and just starts doing stuff. It might be the wrong stuff, it might be okay stuff, it might be brilliant stuff, but he adjusts as he goes along, and things turn out however they turn out. Whenever I get into this place where I’m so freaked out about starting off in the wrong direction, I think “What would my dad do?” And then, I normally do something else, because I often disagree with my father just on principle. But at least I’ve committed to a course of action.
My course of action on this particular problem is to leave the programmatic challenges for later and just start writing the text. How will I keep things organized? Remember, I’ve got 6 point of view characters in 3 different locations, each one of whom is operating independently. These three locations are very far apart, so there’s a large time difference, meaning that some characters might be asleep while others are doing things. To make things a little more complicated, any two of these characters might swap places at any time. After two days of talks with the Pirate about things that are both down the road and in the weeds (the future is apparently a kind of shoddy neighborhood), I decided that here and now I’m just going to put the timeline on the x axis of a spreadsheet, the character names on the y axis, color the cells with a color representing any one of the three locations, and then each cell will link out to a text document containing the written text for that scene, thereby capturing POV, location and time in one cell.
Organizational problem solved. As for the rest of it, later. I’ll sort it out later.
You could use Notational Velocity. It makes a very simple sort of hyperlinking easy. It can be configured so the resulting files are plain text files or RTFs, instead of it’s own internal format — I can imagine that that might be nice for being able to write something hypertextual in a simple uncomplicated tool and then later processing it into some other form for presentation.
I checked out Notational Velocity, but I don’t think I get it. Either that, or I do get it and it doesn’t solve the problem I have. I think there are several ways of solving the problem of organizing complexity, but each solution is only good for a specific type of organization. I can probably use any of the different tools I’ve found, but each one is going to affect how the story gets written and how it will eventually be read in the sort of way that observing an experiment will always affect the outcome.
As it is, the whole spreadsheet thing is working far better than the Pirate would ever have thought it would, with the added benefit that it’s really intuitive for anyone looking at it.
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