Idea Manager

First, amazing product. I’m a creative writer, and Scrivener has acted as a major catalyst in my productivity. It DOMINATES all other word processing softare – makes MSWord clean up my toe nail clippings. Keep up the great work.

My one-piece wish list spawned from my complex plot line. It would be great and very helpful to have something like MindManager (see link below). It would help me to organize my thoughts and ideas. If this is a no-go, does anyone have any suggestions for a free program that does something similar?

Once again, great product. Thanks for putting in all the hard work and effort.


Something like that would be useful to me as well. I use similiar programs at the moment. … f_FreeMind PC

and … /index.cfm PC/Mac

You might try FreeMind. It’s a Java app, and free.

I do all my brainstorming in the Binder. Usually have a set of notes in one window and draft in the other, preferably in horizontal display.

i have NovaMind - but it tends to sit in my applications folder - looking pretty. I’ve read Tony Buzan. I constantly extol the virtues of mind-mapping to my often less than convinced students, and i love NovaMInd’s elegant interface. I just don’t use it. On the other hand, OmniOutliner is the app. i always go to in the initial stages of any writing project, creative, journalistic, or academic. it’s great, and for me it does all the stuff that mind-mapping - although not graphically - is supposed to do: it gets ideas out of my head and into an editable form which can be re-ordered and ‘shaped’ - from there I move stuff into scrivener, for proper writing (although i often bypass OmniOutliner altogether when i just want to write … and go straight into Scrivener full-screen mode) for me, the outliner of scrivener doesn’t work for brainstorming - i tend to use the binder, and corkboard views for organisation and structure, but i couldn’t live without OmniOutliner. You might want to check out Inspiration software - which, i thnk has better outlining features than NovaMInd. Anyway, that’s my two penn’th.


Your suggestion to include an idea manager in Scrivener is enticing, but I would nonetheless vote against it. There are already a number of excellent visual brainstorming applications out there, and to me, Scrivener’s strength is precisely its fierce focus on writing. MindManager is a huge and complex application; including anything like that in Scrivener would create a monster app that would not be able to compete with dedicated brainstorming apps anyway. Creative people have such different workflows and styles of corralling their ideas that it would unnecessarily limit the audience for Scrivener. To my mind, it is better to use a number of different applications than to have one that tries to do it all.

I can whole-heartedly recommend a number of different brainstorming and idea managing tools beyond the ones already mentioned; depending on the problem and the mood I’m in, I’ll go for one of them when Scrivener becomes to linear. These are my main choices:

NovaMind (I use it for straight mind-mapping - but it comes in a version that also includes a Screenwriting module)
Curio (includes a basic mind-mapping tool but is more like an infinite pinboard, very flexible and intuitive)
Tinderbox (steep learning curve; I use it for more text-based explorations)

These are all excellent applications, but they fill very different needs. Using a number of different tools gives you more flexibility – the downside being, of course, that each of these tools has a learning curve; they are not free either. But I’ve found that it’s worth spending some time exploring different ways of doing the things I have to do, and the trial period usually convinces me either to spend the money or to forget about the app. I always come out having learned something about how the process of creation may flow more productively. Every application has its constraints, and this can be an enabling as well as a crippling force in trying to get to the heart or the outer edges of a problem. When something doesn’t work one way, I want to be able to try another.

So this is a long-winded way of saying I would prefer Scrivener to be about writing primarily (it has excellent import and export capabilities) than to take on an area that other applications already cover very well.

All the best,



Thanks for your suggestion. This has actually been discussed before, although a long time ago. Basically, I have no intention of adding anything like this to a 1.x release, and probably not a 2.x release either, for the simple reason that coding a good mindmapper is really a whole application’s worth of support in itself. Also, you have to think about how it would integrate with the outliner and the corkboard and so forth. I’m not ruling it out entirely, but I think that, 1) adding something like this would involve an incredible amount of work (and I’m just one person), and 2) getting it right in terms of integration with the rest of the app would be crucial but very, very tricky.

All the best,

A mind mapping application I’m starting to use (and appreciate) is CMap Tools ( Not the best one from a cosmetic point of view, but with a very fast idea/graphic object input method based on propositions.

While it seems especially devoted to concept drawing (the name itself says it all), I discovered it can proficiently be used for visual story outlining. It is also an excellent tool for sharing projects with others, using the integrated network services.

While I love the corkboard in Scrivener very much, very complex stories seem to be better laid out - at least in the very beginning - with mapping programs, allowing for a more free organization of index cards.