Plain Text Story Format

So, I have thing with file formats. Call it a rocky past, if you will. Lately I have been, as much as possible, using plain text files for my writing.

(I still use Excel for Excel things because plain text spreadsheets aren’t really a thing–which is a shame. But I do use plain text for my to-do list, which is turning out well.)

I use a format called Markdown, which I’ve rambled about before, but I wanted to post about how I organize a file overall.

The nice thing about this format is this will work in any program–Word to plain text–as it is just a manner of organization. Now to be clear, this is primarily my working file, and while you can use this as a final with some tweaks (for a later post), for now think of this as what you are using to draft.

The layout is simple, really. I put the infonotes at the top, break, and the story, with a slight tail of word storage at the end. A blank layout would look like this:

Title: (title here)
Author: (my name)








To use this, all you would need do is copy/paste that into a fresh document. These headings (which I usually format as Heading 1 just for visual effect), provide a skeleton to the file, and some guidance to the chaos that usually filled my stories.

The To-do section is as it sounds. I’ll make a list of items for the future. If I am feeling proper, I’ll use todo.txt formatting. I’ll mark done items with an “X” in front

# To do 

- change main character’s name
- move the setting from Mars to London
- look up fashion from 1870’s @library
X read about Inuit and Aleut +mythology

I use the same formatting both for the Characters and Locations sections: a Heading 2 style for the name of the character / place, and then followed by a description (or important details)

# Characters

## Victor Frankenstein

Smart guy, but kind of a jerk. He knows what he wants, and isn’t afraid to go get it. Love interest of main character. 

Blue eyes, tall, hiding a bald spot. 

## Jean Renee 

Lone wolf type character, she is traveling but won’t say to where (Stockholm). carries a blade in her umbrella. (or really an umbrella on her blade.)

likes crepes

# Locations

## Victor’s House

London, 85 Baker street. There is an exit out the side only he knows about, and a secret basement he doesn’t

## Warf

Three pubs, Ego Alley, Jones’ and The Lost Lady

For characters, you can set them up in groups. I had a military story, for example, and had them sectioned off by fire squad and rank to keep the names straight. Have ships? group them based on who is on what boat.

Locations, same idea–organize by city, then location; by planet, then continent; chronologically by when they come up in the story. However you want.

Notes is free form for a reason: sometimes you need free form. I’ll usually try to space them out by headings or white space, but overall, anything goes here.

Story is just that. Write here like you always do.

Archive is for things I wrote which, naturally, are brilliant, but for whatever reason don’t fit into the story. This is an archive of deleted sentences and paragraphs I want to keep, but not be a part of the published text.

And that’s it.

This structure allows me to have the spread of information I want. I can open a file and world build, or I can write away, knowing that I can keep things that don’t work as well.

The best part? This isn’t a program. So if something isn’t working, it is easily adjusted. For example, you are writing a short story, set in a single location, BUT the main character is a chef, so you have to keep recipes handy? Scratch ‘Location’ and ‘Recipes’ it is. Change things to work for you.

Now some may say, isn’t this what Scrivener does? Why not just use that? And yes, there are similarities in ideas. I do own Scrivener, and while I love it, not everything I write fits into its scope. Scrivener is a big app, and offers a lot of functionality, and sometimes you just need a single file.

This text file I can store in my dropbox and work on anywhere–on my phone, my computer. It is small, light, easy to read and future proof and completely customizable. I don’t have to fight a program to get something I want, just change a header.

And then get back to writing.

New Star Wars Trailer

(stuck in draft, posting late, rather than never…)

The new Star Wars trailer makes me happy. I sent the link to my sister when I got it, and she loved it.

I know it is cool to hate the prequels, but you have to remember that by the early ’90’s Star Wars was something only a few of us watched (relatively speaking, of course).

They started up the books then, which helped buy giving the fans something to do, but the books weren’t really things that brought in new fans. They were maintenance.

I saw the Phantom Menace in the theatre twice. It is, in my opinion, the most “Star Wars” of the prequels in pacing, mood and story. But I remember the trailer: Hover tanks coming over a hill, a hooded villain, Liam Nieson being a Jedi, a double edged light saber.

The poster is still one of my favorites: A boy walking away from a small building, his shadow cast on it in the shape of Darth Vader.

Did they stumble, did they fail? Sure. But they are Star Wars, and I loved every minute of them, bad dialogue, poorly laid out plots, over the top CGI.

And I was saddened when I saw the scroll for “The Revenge of the Sith.” There is that moment when you know this will be the last time you see this new.


Disney bought Star Wars, and now we will be getting a lot of Star Wars. I’m sure there are those who say it will get old, they will burn out, that soon we will be overloaded.

And I say, more. more. Keep coming. I cannot wait for this future. The kid in me who played Luke Skywalker at recess waiting for Return of the Jedi to come out will never get tired of Star Wars.

Just a few notes for the end:

  • Ewoks were cool, and I dug their song
  • Jar Jar Binks is by no means the worst part of Star Wars
  • Everyone really wants a Star Destroyer
  • Darth Vader is the measure of a bad guy

and I will still one day be a Jedi Knight.

On Star Wars EU, and Kotaku’s Post

I have feelings about this article.

First off, the EU was NEVER cannon. Ever. It was always its own thing, separate from Lucas’s official cannon, separate from the role playing games, video games, etc.

But they were never the official cannon.

And they were a mess. The EU had a Han/Leia/Luke problem, which despite efforts of the X-Wing series and I, Jedi, was never broken.

You have an entire galaxy, and apparently only three people ever do anything in it.

Chuck Wendig’s book is good. it is fun, and avoids this problem by having some new characters get into new adventures.

The difference now from the EU is Disney has made EVERYTHING cannon. So now the stories in the comics, books, movies, video games, etc, are all linked, and ‘real’.

Should everything have been thrown out? Maybe. Maybe not. The Vong was not Star Wars. But the peace treaty in Vision of the Future between the remains of the Empire and the New Republic opened up some interesting political opportunities.

The old books didn’t go away. And while I agree that the writers of the new stuff should grab some of the West End Games RPG books for references there exists now nothing but bright open future, where Chewie is alive, where Luuke doesn’t exist, where Han doesn’t go off every other book and decide to become a smuggler again.

That said, I did like Death Troopers.