The BEST OUTLINING APP for NOVELS
When it comes to prewriting, I’m a big fan of sticky notes or index cards where I can jot down scene ideas, characters, etc. When it comes to brainstorming, it's important for me to have something very freeform, without columns or grids that lock me into chronological thinking prematurely.
I live in a tiny apartment in Manhattan. I have no dedicated office, my storage space for piles of index cards is limited, and free wall space to display 30+ cards is not a luxury that I have.
Plus, analog systems tend to be less portable. While I mostly write from home, sometimes I want to work from Starbucks, or from a hotel while traveling. I can't exactly go packing up a big poster with my storyboard in my suitcase.
So I searched for a digital alternative. And searched, and searched. And finally found the best planning tool I've ever used in Milanote.
how i use milanote
As mentioned above, my favorite thing about Milanote is that you can place images and bits of text anywhere you want. Unlike Trello or other dedicated storyboard apps, you’re not forced into columns or any sort of linear structure.
This is really important to me in early stages. I like to know that if I have a scrap of an idea for a scene, but don't know where it goes, I can just add to a general "pile" of ideas, without having to even think about the order of things (yet).
Want to do a loosey-goosey mindmap? Milanote does that. Want your thoughts in orderly columns, with everything spaced just so? Milanote does that too.
I love that Milanote lets you drag and drop notes or images anywhere rather than forcing a grid structure like Trello or Notion.
When prewriting, I love using visual elements to group similar thoughts. With Milanote, I can add a color of my choosing to any note to denote hero's arc, B-plot, intimate scenes, etc.
For every novel, I create a board in Milanote where I can track all of my characters—the protagonists get their own board, and secondary characters are all listed on a single board in a stylesheet of sorts.
I don't create one for every book I write, but some stories feel very visual to me. I create a board in Milanote to drag photos of homes, settings, and people.
Milanote has a few built-in templates for fiction writers, and one of them is the classic Hero's Journey. It makes it so easy to quickly put together your character's arc in a visual way!