Writer's Cafe Storyline as Timeline Surrogate

I recently posted information about how I use Writer’s Cafe Storyline feature as a Timeline surrogate at another thread on this forum [see https://forum.literatureandlatte.com/t/desperately-need-timeline-software/6769/1 ]. I received several PMs requesting further information, which I am glad to summarize below for others who might be interested.

Of the range of features in Writer’s Cafe, all but Storyline (Scrapbook, Journal, Notebook and Pinboard) are handled better (more intuitively, greater flexibility, more powerfully) by Scrivener. Storyline is the one feature in WC for which there is no counterpart in Scrivener – and for this reason I use WC Storyline for the purpose of organizing sequences of scenes by date and setting for import into Scrivener.

The basic unit of WC Storyline is the index card (see TimelineDemo.gif below) with title and space for expanded text material – very similar in functionality to the index card and text editing windows in Scrivener. Storyline includes an Outline window (upper left in TimelineDemo.gif) for working with a user modifiable hierarchical structure of Acts, Chapters, Scenes and the like. I’ve developed a modified structure of Acts, Sections, Dates, and Settings that allows me to organize material into sets of events/scenes that I can arrange and track by date and setting – thus turning the Storyline display into a rudimentary Timeline. Storyline also includes numerous tabbed windows that are useful for taking notes, keeping track of index cards that are not yet placed into the Outline or Storyline/Timeline, recording basic character and location material, creating/searching tags, and developing reports for export (upper right in TimelineDemo.gif). The Report feature is critical to getting material out of WC in a format that can be imported into Scrivener (as RTF).

It took quite a bit of trial and error (lots of error) to get the Storyline Outline window to behave close to the way I wanted it. The preference settings, and behavior of the Outline window is not as intuitive as Scrivener. To save those who are interested some time I’ve included a pic of the Structure Preference settings that I use to set up the Act, Section, Date and Setting structure in the TimelineDemo.gif above (see StructurePref.gif below)

I also found the report formatting to be extremely cumbersome. But once I got the styles set to the way I wanted the report to appear, and set the Report Template Preferences properly, I was able to get a report that exported and imported in a useful way to Scrivener (see ReportTemplatePref.gif below)

As best I know Writer’s Cafe was originally developed for PC and ported to Mac. As such it’s a very powerful writing and research program, with some pretty clunky user interface issues when compare to Scrivener. I find the Storyline feature invaluable now that I’ve got the display and export settings the way I want – and expect I’ll stay with it at least until Aeon comes completely up to speed.

Hope this helps.