Free software for organizing ideas and tracking info

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  • #205094
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    Hi, folks.

    I haven’t posted to the boards in a long time, but I’m sure some of you remember me from chat.

    I recently found a freeware that I thought would be really helpful to folks who were doing book research or preparing to write a sequel. It’s called QDA Miner Lite, and it’s actually a research tool used by people who do research on written or spoken (language-based) data. I’m currently using it to organize sources and ideas for a literature review for my dissertation, but as soon as I started playing with it, I saw the possible utility for writers of fiction.

    Basically, you take any type of text (copy-paste or import as a document, PDF, etc) and put it in as a “case” (or source). Then you can make “codes” that indicate ideas or topics or details. For example, if I were doing research on herbs that might be used for healing properties in a pre-industrial society, I could copy in web-based text, make different codes for things like “stops bleeding” or “pain reliever” or “induce labor.” The codes are attached to specific information from the copied documents/text, and are searchable. They can be grouped and you can even pull up statistics to see how many of your sources agree on something. To continue my example, I could also code information by each herb, by the climate where it grows, etc., all with just a few clicks. You could even put all your research in one project file and group the codes by story so that you can cross-pollinate them with information that is useful to more than one without having to work harder than a highlight and click.

    Another idea is to paste in my actual drafted materials and create codes for each character or main themes, ideas, and details in the text. Then if I finally got around to writing book 3 and I suddenly couldn’t remember who the Duke was talking to when he told the story about the missing cat (or even which book the conversation happened in, and maybe I miss-remembered and the story was actually about a dog and I took it out in the third draft), I could run a query instead of having to skim through a whole shelf full of drafts.

    The software is free and remarkably easy to figure out and use effectively, and it makes going through research a lot more fun than having to hand-copy things into a physical notebook or trying to wade through the forest of bookmarks in my web browser.

    Here’s a link

    Magic Seeker
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    Hi Arizela! Welcome back! I hope to see you here in the forums. :cheer:

    Happy writing,
    Deb Salisbury
    The Mantua-Maker, Quality Historical Sewing Patterns and Books

    The Art of the Hoop: 1860 - 1869, Dress, Sewing, and Clothing Care Advice

    Dead Wizard's Loot: Wizard Whitewing #1

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    Howdy, Deb! Long time, no see. I’m hanging out in chat most days right now. The regulars are entertaining me when I ought to be working on my dissertation. :D

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    I remember you from chats of yore. Also, that looks like a powerful tool. Anything that organizes anything is a plus with me, not because I’m good at organizing, but because I’m bad at it. My mind is a hoarder…everything’s up there but I have so much everywhere the I can’t find anything when I need it!

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