Organizing Your Project

Hi all –

I was wondering how everyone was designing their StoryNexus project. I’d started out jotting down ideas in a text file, which is fine for keeping track of story details and world ideas, but not a very good way to organize individual storylets. I’d thought about maybe trying to do something with post-its, just so I’d be able to swap storylets in and out rather easily, but that’s not very portable and my handwriting is atrocious, anyway… How is everyone else managing to organize their design?

I don’t have beta access (yay next week!), but I use Scriviner for writing novels, and it was a natural choice to use for SN projects as well, due to its organizational and categorical capabilities. You might also want to check out how Failbetter says they organize their roaming herds of secrets and million flowers.

I’m also a big fan of the archaic “write stuff down across eighty loose sheets of paper and remember where you put each bit,” but I understand if most people aren’t into that. ;) If you’re working in a group, I particularly recommend against this.

Not very efficiently, yet.

I have a notebook, and what I’ve settled on after a foray through the sticky-notes and bits sheets of paper is a diagram of what I guess you’d call plot points. I keep telling myself: The most important thing my story can be is finished. So I build the backbone first–the simplest course of action–and then I figure out how it branches and build those up. (For example: at (W) you notice someone casing your home. (X) Later, you try to chase away the thief and succeed. Then Y and Z events occur. Or you fail, and YY and ZZ events occur. And once I’ve done that, I go back and think of the other options–like, what if at (X) you stay back and let the thief go ahead? Y event won’t occur, and you will get to Z, but the interaction in Z will be pretty different.)

Of course, there are other stories, and depending on whether you succeed in chasing away the thief at point X, they might go and get someone you’re dealing with in another storylet. I’m really not sure how I want to handle that, yet. I am going to go with the idea of having your pending interactions from the other storylet unlock/make visible other branches at point Y, I’m just not sure that’s the best option.

It helps, for me, that it’s a pretty small story/game with a limited number of characters. A t least right now.


I’m working with two other people. Most of the writing goes straight into the Storynexus interface, where we can all see it. There’s also about a hundred emails (bless Gmail’s searchability). I personally use Scrivener (fistbumps to Azuaron) to do most of my initial composition and brainstorming before dumping into the dev tools. I really like the program’s flexibility in implementation, ability to organize me, and ease of export to other formats.

[color=#009900]Another post that Yasmeen wrote about our process. It’s changed since then, but you may find it useful still.[/color]

(‘Jonathan’ is what the creators’ tools used to be called in Fallen London).

[color=#009900]My bottom-line advice: once the content’s gone into StoryNexus, wherever possible use the tools themselves to organise and reference it (as I point out in the first link of Azuaron’s below). Tagging, quality notes. Post-its or whatever can be very useful while you’re still building it, but as soon as it’s in playtesting they’ll go out of date instantly. For larger worlds you will need external references too, but minimise them.[/color]

>build the backbone first

[color=#009900]This is also good advice. We often take a similar-but-different approach, ‘skeletonising’ - building the structure with only note-form writing, and not fleshing out the text until later.[/color]
[color=#009900]Qualities are the wires on which storylets hang. Think carefully about which qualities will drive your content, and put as much information in the quality notes as you can about how the structure works. You’ll be glad when you come back to it a week later.[/color]

We use spreadsheets to track our quality progression across questicles.

I use TiddlyWiki:

In fact I wrote a story in TiddlyWiki and am now transferring it into the StoryNexus…