Can technology help authors write a book?

From the BBC:

Celebrated American author Mark Twain was very dismissive of people who think it is possible for someone to learn how to write a novel.

“A man who is not born with the novel-writing gift has a troublesome time of it when he tries to build a novel,” he said. “He has no clear idea of his story. In fact, he has no story.”

British writer Stephen Fry puts it another way. He says that successful authors are those who know just how difficult it is to write a book.

Every year around the world a whopping 2.2 million books are published, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), which monitors the number. The figure includes both fiction and non-fiction titles.

For most of these authors the writing process is relatively unchanged since Twain’s heyday in the late 19th Century. Plot outlines and ideas are written down to be deciphered, developed and refined over time.

These days, however, technology is increasingly making the life of an author a little easier.

For Michael Green, a US data scientist turned novelist, the need to use technology to simplify and streamline the writing process came when he was in the middle of writing his first book.

With 500 pages of a complex story written, he recalls that the process had become difficult to manage: “In the midst of editing, I got to the point where I started feeling like I had a lot of plots and characters.”

“I had all these documents on the deeper aspects of the world I was creating. I was worried about being able to keep track of it all. That’s when I switched into my more data science-minded approach to solving a complex problem with a lot of different pieces.”

The end result was that Mr Green created Lynit, a digital platform that helps authors visualise, plan and weave together the various elements – such as characters, plot arcs, themes and key events – that form a story.

The app is now in its beta stage, and is being tested by a number of writers. Currently free to use, users can draw and update intricate digital templates or story maps.

. . . .

Mr Green says that many novelists begin their work with little more than a general idea of a plot or a particular character. With Lynit he says that the process of adding to this initial idea is simplified.

“As the author gets a new idea that they want to bring into the story, they are able to input it into a natural framework. They’re building a visualization.

“Piece by piece, they’re adding to the story. As new ideas come in, they change, maybe by creating new nodes [or interactions], new relationships.”

Link to the rest at the BBC

7 thoughts on “Can technology help authors write a book?”

  1. Amanda Green, over on Mad Genius Club, noted that a good look needs to be taken at their Terms of Service. Which I did, and…

    …two pieces that I find objectionable are:

    We may suspend, disable, or delete your account (or any part thereof) if we determine that you have violated any provision of this Agreement or that your conduct or content would tend to damage our reputation and goodwill.

    Prohibited actions… (e) to harass, abuse, insult, harm, defame, slander, disparage, intimidate, or discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, race, age, national origin, or disability;

    Red flags! These boil down to “If we, or anyone we approve of, finds you to be insufficiently ‘woke,’ we will destroy you.”

    I’ll also note that I cannot find any work that is likely to be by this particular Michael Green on Amazon. Not a definite indicator that he has nothing published, but cause for caution, IMHO.

    • …Red flags! These boil down to “If we, or anyone we approve of, finds you to be insufficiently ‘woke,’ we will destroy you.”

      That and more. What if Mr. Green moves on? What if he dies? Does your book die with him?

      I use technology, too. I write in Google Docs. I design in Photoshop and InDesign. But I have way more confidence that Google and Adobe will be around as long as I need them.

      • That’s what I’m questioning above. I don’t know how the platform works (cloud? linked? auto-saves?), but I doubt I’ll be going with the guy who was on the Fusion Dance Crew at Wesleyan U.

  2. Not impressed.
    His platform doesn’t do anything that can’t be done with stickies on a corkboard.
    Or a spreadsheet if you want to get “technical”. 😀
    No need to fret the TOS.

    And it doesn’t even use “AI”! 😉

  3. There is one thiing you can’t put in an app that is essential to all effective writing — creative imagination.

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