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By WHAT do you (in parallels) structure? (woof-woof!)

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Posted by 22111
Sep 19, 2022 at 12:08 PM


Re the Third Dimension (again of general interest, not only for “creative writing”, etc.)

First of all, the “FAZ” newspaper once and then systematically claimed that “Behind the FAZ, there always hides a bright mind” (“Hinter der FAZ steckt immer ein kluger Kopf”) - well, it was a respectable newspaper then, 50 years ago that is - cf. the Bezos propaganda publication “Washington Post” then and today, and you’ll get the idea… - and yes, whoever nowadays spends a little fortune on their subscription of either of these alleged “newspapers” (as I had, 50 years ago, for “FAZ” indeed): Why shouldn’t they also pay for their subscription to inferior outlining software touted by the latter (because it’s “national”? or for even more sinister reasons?), software that quite hinders to also administer that “third dimension”, that bulk of “other angles”, but certainly does not favor it, to say the very least - I exposed in detail here why I consider “Ulysses App” as inferior and obstructing any serious work: To quite linear minds of today, quite linear outlining software, that seems ok to me (cf. infra)...

Now who thinks “third dimension”, possibly thinks “concept maps”, “topic maps”, i.e. “graphs” (in graph form that is), but there’s a hitch: most people’s minds don’t grasp’em, they don’t “follow”, and perhaps if they do, for the initial, basic “construction”, they drop out then when it comes to further developing with such a graph - “TheBrain” tried to overcome these limitations in their subscribers’ brains, but I think that hasn’t shown as being as too successful, since if it had, that would have been known…

Then, we have “columns”, and so, many writers, and many planners in various businesses, do their planning and/or their analysis in e.g. MS Excel spreadsheets (They are other such programs, more or less specific ones, or even just csv “viewers” / editors, but the latter currently - well, I don’t any that’d do - don’t allow for formatting (bolding, coloring, etc.), and I think you shouldn’t deliberately resign to do without this additional “dimension”...); you all know the business versions of this outline paradigm, and for two (handwritten) examples (among many others) in the writing business, see e.g. Rowling’s quite basic (i.e. with just some columns) Phoenix-Potter spreadsheet here, https://www.openculture.com/2014/07/j-k-rowling-plotted-harry-potter-with-a-hand-drawn-spreadsheet.html , or Heller’s much more elaborate (i.e. many more columns) Catch-22 spreadsheet, e.g. here: https://biblioklept.org/2013/05/15/joseph-hellers-handwritten-outline-for-catch-22/ ; there are many similar to be found in the web.

Now, “spreadsheeting” is obviously a very valid concept, but it isn’t suited to (or is it “for”?) every creator’s mind, in fact the same phenomenon as described above for graphs, here applies, albeit to a much lesser degree: elements belonging together, are stretched out over several, not necessarily adjacent columns (cf. the Heller spreadsheet), at least horizontally, and you might even be tempted to draw (in handwriting, or even in some software tools) “linking”, “cf.” arrows from some rows to others (since, yes, a spreadsheet is a simplified, limited (sub-) graph, and since your imagination isn’t that limited (hopefully), you’ll need “something more” than what just a big sheet with just two-dimensionally arranged boxes has on offer. (It’s correct that with an electronic tool, you can re-order your columns, but whenever they are in “ideal order” for some rows, they are in (often really) bad order for others…)

Thus, for many a creators’ minds, the ideal (sic! since best-adapted to their respective brains) form of outlining consists in two- or three-pane outlining software but which allows for different “user” formattings within the (only, or then “second”) tree, and ideally also for (further ideally: quick to be switched, and stored, in combinations ad libitum) filtering (in both ways: “only show ...” vs. “hide ...”) within that tree (and not in some additional, “search results”, pane) - cf. my descriptions here of what (non-ideal) Ultra Recall has on offer in this respect… but which is obviously way more here as most competitors, Windows and Mac combined, and certainly much superior to that really quite flat “Ulysses App” advertized for “FAZ” subscribers…

Now, any such “outline” - see my musings here about “pivoting” though - follows one “agenda” (as today’s alleged, often State- or Gates-paid “newspapers” do), and this “agenda” is “what you want to present, on the surface, and in what (presentation) order”.

There’s nothing wrong with that concept, as an ordering paradigm, but it obviously can’t grasp all those “other” details, ANGLES of consideration, showing, i.e. SEEING, understanding, for the “reader” / “audience”, and thus, those writers use spreadsheets, with (more or less) multiple “columns”, in order to construct, and to remind themselves when writing: In order to NOT hold back all these “further / side / even core / inner(most) aspects” of their respective subject, but which do not fit in that respective, “current” core structure they will have chosen to “do the outline”, and which for “writers” obviously is the plot (well, there has been le “nouveau roman”, I know…).

Now, if you are a today’s “journalist”, and you either have to follow your publisher’s agenda, or even do that fervently, you simply don’t need such “additional entries” within your “plot outline”, so “Ulysses App” and similar will do, and if you write pulp fiction, you might (sic! i.e. even then, you shouldn’t, but that’s just me…) use such inferior outlining software, too (and perhaps use additional tools (even pen and paper, in case) in order to remind you of “further aspects”, outside of your “(then) writing (it down) tool”, but it’s obvious that for a serious writer - or for a conscientious journalist, but how would they be paid then? or what would they write, to start with, unemployed? books? when the book business is in the hands of… I’ll stop here… -: it’s obvious that for a serious writer of any kind, some more elaborate “outliner”, i.e. one that doesn’t hide your “additional aspects” (from your construction work, and thus, more or less, also from your memory, but forcing you to put them into the “contents”), at the very best, but allows you to also integrate them into your “outline”, so as to have them “before your eyes”, and ideally, even as “alternative outlines”, not only one-by-one, category-wise, but in any combination you deem helpful at any stage of your writing.

(It’s true that to some degree, you can realize this by tagging, e.g. by tags in the titles, but this creates confusion, clouding, “noise” in your writing, whilst with proper formatting, you’ll be able to preserve at least important “categories” within your “core outline” construct all the time, and without them diverting your “flow” or hampering your orientational senses.)

If you haven’t got but to “follow your (i.e. “their”) agenda”: Very well: hold it simple; if you strive to not alienate your audience / “reader”, be aware that the “core outline” reduces your presentation, and your thinking to begin with, to its inherent two-dimensionality, so provide for means to overcome this conceptional limitation, and ideally within your writing tool itself, since you will then not have any “sync” problems, among other benefits:

Bear in mind that 2-/3- (and even 1-) pane outlining (if it meets the above requirements) really helps creation, by reducing otherwise possibly excessive, overwhelming complexity (graphs) to some mentally manageable straightfulness… but that it also works as a pitfall, by oversimplifying your thinking and thus your writing, by leaving out those angles which “stick out” of that simplified, since linear representation - thus the need to reintegrate that “third dimension” into the (inherently, by its nature flat) outline, and by any means, ideally by formatting and filtering, instead of relegating it to some external “notebooks” and the like - but that’s just me, you might prefer spreadsheets to serve that purpose indeed.