NaNoWrimoPrep: Plotting tools

I got an iPad about a year and a half ago, and it’s slowly become my primary writing tool instead of my trusty laptop, mainly due to its portability and the many programs available for writing and plotting. (App, program, same thing. I’m old school.)

I’ve tried a lot of different programs to find the perfect one for use with the iPad. Now, when I initially bought the tablet it was in the hopes that Scrivener for iOS would be coming along soon, but since it hasn’t I’ve been looking for substitutes. My requirements are pretty simple, as far as planning goes: I want a way to enter notes that is easy to back up and search, with a small learning curve and hopefully a visually pleasing layout.

Two programs that I keep returning to are OneNote and Mindly. OneNote is an MS Office product, free with Windows 8, and relatively easy to back up across devices–I have backups to my (Windows) laptop as well as my iPad and my latest toy, the iPhone 5c. While I have lost notebooks due to carelessness, I’ve also been able to recover them.

Mindly is a mindmapping tool. Now, I’m not really a visual thinker and usually plan with bullet points and indents; but I have found for more complicated plots mind maps help me keep track of what’s happening when and to whom. Plus Mindly includes little graphics to add to each new point, and I am sucker for little graphics. The harder part has been figuring out how to make the mind map actually functional. Is it purely for timelines? For brainstorming? Can it be a useful plotting tool?

Yes, to all three. Brainstorm a plot, export the file as a PDF, store in OneNote to refer to later. Or take the scattered ideas from OneNote and use Mindly to make them into a workable timeline. Shape your plots around plot-subplot/Plot A-Plot B, using the date points to connect how Plot B feeds into Plot A. And so on.

(Of course, I still find my best brainstorming takes place with pen and paper. I just think more freely on a physical page.)

What’s your favorite plotting tool? Pen and paper or something more high-tech?

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