Virtual Index Cards

Contest of the day: win Star Trek: Voyager season 1 at

I was going to do the index card plot outlining thing (50,000 words late) for NaNoEdMo, but then I thought why copy everything into a dying medium like paper when I already have plot summary comments attached to all my scenes? There had to be a more high-tech way.

So I searched for just the right program to simulate index cards with scene and character notes on them. I thought fondly of Hypercard. I googled at length. I read up on the history of mac outliner software. Nothing seemed quite the thing.

In the end, I came back to OmniGraffle, a sort of lightweight Visio for the Mac. I used grep to get the scene summaries out of my story file, then imported them into OmniOutliner (by opening the text file), then imported the OmniOutliner file into OmniGraffle (by opening the file). I got both programs free with my PowerBook, so this wasn’t my usual open-source approach. (OmniDictionary is free, though.)

After the import, I had about 50 little squares for my 50 or so scenes. I started coloring them in and sliding them around (because the story needs some serious rearrangement), and a great cat-vacuuming time was had by all. I think it’s been more helpful than index cards, though I was only going for a reasonable approximation of index card functionality.

One Response to “Virtual Index Cards”

  1. Lori Says:

    Omnigraffle… I know what that is! :)