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Lack of up-to-date outliners

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Posted by Amontillado
Jul 31, 2020 at 03:52 PM


WaryJerry wrote:
1. I’ve read through all the posts and advice on here over several
>years, looking for a Windows outliner that is still available, without
>any luck.

I’ve got hopes for the next version of Sheetplanner (Mac only), but I think my use is going to be more centered on it as a timeline tool than a traditional outliner. It doesn’t look anything like OmniOutliner, but it does pretty much the same thing with the same stream of keystrokes. I think it’s quicker to use than Aeon Timeline, and it can be a nice front end for Aeon, if you want to build Aeon’s grid. A CSV export from Sheetplanner can feed Aeon. For me, that’s quicker than direct entry into Aeon. In fact, a spreadsheet exported into Aeon is quicker, too, but Sheetplanner gives an advance view of what the timeline is going to look like, and may do all you really need.

For a current time-waster I’m working on, I decided to outline in a word processor. Any word processor, any platform, as long as it has reasonable style support and a navigator pane. It’s been strangely liberating.

Styles for headings create the outline in the navigator pane, or whatever your word processor of choice calls it. The document itself becomes the second pane of a two-pane outline tool.

For better focus on topics, I have three style sets that are mostly duplicates.

One puts a page break before every top level heading. Another one puts a page break in front of every heading. The last one doesn’t insert page breaks at all.

That lets me flip between one long outline, focus on top level topics, or a granular view.

I’ve also recently come to grips with the problem of putting too much detail in an outline. What I’ve decided works best is a mind map, wiki, or something for all those categorized ideas, and an outline that uses major headings for major breaks the story. Chapters, for example, but no categorization into topics and sub topics.

Minor topics are milestones along the telling of the story and don’t say how things happened or what categories events fit into, They are just story snapshots. That way I remain flexible when writing.

In short, categorize in a tool that’s meant for information organization, outline to produce a map for what’s going to be written in the sequence it will appear, probably creating no more than two or maybe three levels of hierarchy. Two is better.

By all means, please feel free to heckle. I’m just learning.