New index card feature (please don't hit me)

Hello Keith et. al.,

Firstly, I love Scrivener. You have done a wondrous job of creating an exciting writing product that is unlike anything I have ever seen.

I learned of Scrivener via a Google search when I needed an outlining app based on index cards. I downloaded the trial and worked with it for about 6 hours yesterday after going through the tutorial and watching the screencast. Though I may buy a license based on the use the app was designed to perform there is a limitation with the index card feature that may delay my purchase. Here is what I understand about the purpose of the product and the goals of Lit.&Latt.

  1. When pestered by users who demand flexibility with the index card view, Keith tends to drink champaign and bang his head into the table. For that reason, please hear me out before popping the cork as I do not wish to be responsible for a hangover on a Monday.

  2. The index card feature is a view of the outline that corresponds to the binder. It is not a stand-alone module that can operate with it’s own logic. This overriding concept is vital to the proper functioning of the entire app.

  3. Because index cards are meant to summarize the corresponding document there is little reason to make editing their content more flexible.

  4. The development philosophy is to create a bug free product that is not incessantly updated so that Keith can focus on his writing. I fully support that!

Here’s the “however” and the suggestion. I’ll follow up with why it would be useful to me and other users obsessed with the cork board feature:

Would it be feasible or desirable to create a brainstorming index card system that can reside in the research folder that is unbound from the logic of the card view of the binder?

To justify this, let me tell you a little about my writing process as it relates to index cards. In addition to using cards to create and organize sluglines and scenes, I use index cards much earlier in the writing process. For example, I use cards to manage characters, imagery, loose lines of dialogue I hear before I know where they go, to create lists of attributes or a particular character or setting, etc. Before I begin outlining, when I use different coloured cards for each structural unit, I usually use different colours to represent different categories of the underlying brainstorm. The final step I take before embarking on the linear narrative is to sort all of this information into logical groupings, much like gathering together odd bits of clumped four and butter when making a dough for pie crust or pastry.

Right about now I can hear you saying, “Well then why don’t you develop your own damn software!” Here’s why: I believe this flexibility of use is inherent in the goals of the existing application: It is already flexible in terms of form (novel, screenplay, research paper). It is already flexible in terms of research materials (sound files, media clips, text docs and PDFs). Adding flexibility of brainstorming via a separate, additional card module residing in the research folder would create tremendous value to customers current and future. Secondly, I believe development would be relatively simple once you give yourself the freedom to release the cork board logic from the binder logic (for this use only). Thirdly, since you already have a relationship with them, Final Draft may be willing to partner with you by sharing or sub-licensing it’s workflows from an older, discontinued product called Three By Five.

Finally, here is the reason this is so important to me. I write at home where I live with my partner. When I embark on a new project I take over several walls of our living space to create my story, much to my partner’s chagrin. When I entertain I have to number my cards and remove them from the wall so I can place them back later. It is a pain. Your product is so close to solving all of my problems that I felt compelled to share.

That’s my pitch. Thank you so much for your hard work, for your outstanding app, and for your dedication to customer outreach.

All the best,

[Pssst! The “K” is for Keith, not Kevin…]

Oops. So sorry. Fixed.

Unless I’m completely misunderstanding you, it sounds like you can already do what you want.

Documents in the research folder also have index cards associated, it’s not just a draft thing. There’s no reason you have to put anything in the text document associated with an index card if you don’t want to.

You can move index cards around all you like. They drag their text document with them and can also be represented in the binder, but if you’re only using the cards you can order and group them however you please.

Subfolders (or card stacks) in the research folder can allow you to drop your cards in groups. Split the screen and you can see two card groups at once.

It is true that you can’t just place them any which way on the screen, they will always be arranged in nice tidy rows, but if you don’t care about their binder order, then just move them around in their grid order. You just have to remember how they move when you drop a new card between two existing ones.