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Causality ...

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Posted by Hugh
Aug 12, 2018 at 11:34 AM


There’s a free version of Causality, crippled to the extent that the writing functionality is limited. After the trial, that’s probably the version I will use, dipping into the subscription version if I need it.

I used yWriter too, way back. When I used it, I liked it. I think it’s rather different from Causality. Both applications attempt to give the user both macro and micro views of a writing project - as do other applications for writing fiction - but the emphasis in Causality on graphic representation distinguishes it from yWriter for me (unless yWriter has recently changed significantly).

In particular, as a dyed-in-the-wool “plotter” (or outliner), I find the attempt in Causality to provide a “flowchart” view interesting, especially in combination with a timeline. When outlining quickly, it’s always a challenge to ensure, as someone once put it, that “the villain, the victim and the weapon arrive at the murder scene all at the same time and in the most unexpected ways” (and also that many other “beats” that involve cause and effect are likely to work on the page, including the aforementioned plants/set-ups and payoffs - although of course one doesn’t want to be too fussy about these things).

Naturally, traditional outliners and mind-maps do provide solutions of sorts. But they’re not really tailored to the needs of fiction (or for that matter, to the needs of some forms of factual film-making).

There have also already been various attempts to provide graphical ways of addressing this specific need. Time-liners, most particularly Aeon Timeline in my experience, come at it from one direction.  I think “swim-lanes`’ is another possible solution, as used by the long-standing app Writer’s Café, and more recently by Scrivener for Mac 3.

A few years ago I and a German novelist independently tried to use the application Flying Logic to address the same need, by flow-charting fiction. I failed. Flying Logic is designed for other purposes; I could bend it, but not far enough for me. I don’t know whether the other experimenter made any progress with it. (If it was a solution, it too was potentially rather an expensive one, if I remember correctly.)

I want to see whether in practice Causality can do any better.