A while ago, someone on the other forum that I frequent – a Christian speculative fiction forum that is mostly geared toward novelists/short story writers of that set of genres – started a topic about an open-source novelists’ tool called Storybook.

Storybook is a basically a GUI database application that lets writers organize information about locations, characters, and scenes in their novel-in-progress, allowing scenes to be grouped into chapters and broader “parts”. The application to IF struck me immediately. I think it’s almost as useful a tool for an IF author as it is for a novelist, perhaps even more in some ways. The only real drawback to using Storybook for IF is that it assumes a linear plot, although it allows for divergent plot strands (something I haven’t experimented with much).

I used Storybook to draft all my room descriptions for a game idea that came to me just after Thanksgiving. Then I added added descriptions and notes for all the NPCs. I created scenes to represent puzzles and important interactions. I divided the project into three parts – Prologue, Midgame, and Endgame. This really helped immensely in developing my design. Just today, an idea for a way to introduce the endgame came into my head. I added notes in Storybook, and for the first time, I have a fairly comprehensive plan of what to implement for a potential IF game! The experience of using Storybook was not all that different from designing a game with ADRIFT or Quest, both of which I’ve used in the past, if only for experimentation.

Storybook is available for both Linux and Windows. Here’s its website:

If you’re still around thank-you! I’ve been searching for something like this to keep my novel in order. And it even runs in Ubuntu joy. It also looks good for script writers. Even more-so for IF writers. Thanks again!

I’m glad you like it, too! The idea-tracking feature has really been helpful during the first round of implementation of my game in Hugo. If I ever actually finish this project, Storybook will be one of the several factors that will have made it possible. I couldn’t have gotten as far as I already have without it. :slight_smile:

That’s a great find! Thanks for the link!

The current version of Storybook now supports an “Item” database, providing all the tools necessary to sketch out an IF object tree.

Possibly useful. Thanks for the link. My fear is that a tool like this could simply insert an extra layer of busywork between me and the story.

In most cases, once I have a plot outline I’m able to keep all of the characters, scenes, and so on straight in my head. Once in a while I have a “wait a minute, did I mention the pancake breakfast in the sky-diving scene?” moment, and tracking down the needed tidbit of information can be a chore. But that doesn’t happen often enough for me to want to test-drive a tool like Storybook.

On the other hand, the process of developing a plot outline (for either IF or conventional fiction) involves a lot more thrashing and groping. I do that with a word processor, and it usually works okay, but maybe I’ll try Storybook next time. That might be a reasonable use of Storybook … dunno.

What I would want would be, for instance, if I change Ann’s name to Judith, I would like the software to change it for me globally. You can do that with search-and-replace in a word processor – but not if you’ve used words like “announce” and “anniversary.” Not unless you want to find your outline sprinkled with Judithounce and Judithiversary. An object-oriented database might handle such a situation more gracefully.

Just put a space after “Ann” in the find dialog.

(I know you were making a point, I’m just kidding.)

Ah, but what about “Ann.”, “Ann!”, “Ann?” and all the symbols you could attach to it?

(I know you were just kidding. So am I. :wink: )

Didn’t you know that all modern word processors support regex find/replace?

Oh. I didn’t, actually. Power for them.

Yes, sometimes using Storybook to outline my model world and interactions has proved to be just busywork. For me, however, it is ultimately worth it. Storybook just recently came to my rescue again. I’ve been very stuck on the details of how a few puzzles are supposed to work, and the process of entering my objects into the database with notes on how they relate to interactions has helped me to finally settle on how to implement one scene/puzzle in the game. I often feel like making notes is a waste of time, but whenever I try to forge ahead without them, I get lost and give up. I’m not a real writer, however; I suspect many serious writers have a knack for being able to work with the material that they have. However, in my opinion, planning an outline for an IF work is much more difficult than planning a static story.

Really? I always thought that what distinguished the serious ones is that they’re willing to do the extra organizational work to make a better end product. But then again, I’m not a writer, either.

The “serious ones” have people paid by their editors to do the “organizational work” for them.

It’s different for each individual. Some people like to plan the story out. Some people like to let the story tell itself. Some people like to let the characters tell the story to them. Some people just crank out absolute garbage and watch the degenerates of the world eat that crap up like filet mignon without giving a damn if it’s good.