Tinderbox Forum

Will TB be right for me?

I’ve seen lots of posts about using TB for non-fiction, academic writing. But I’m more interested in fiction writing and wanted to see if anyone here can give me pointers as to whether or not to go ahead with using TB.
Basically I’m researching for a series of historical novels (based on a real village)
spread over about 100 years. As you can imagine I’ve collected a lot of info (currently in Devonthink) consisting of pdfs, web archives and some notes.
I’m really just at the acquisition stage, but with a long way to go. DT can find links to a certain extent, but the real issue is going to be keeping track of characters, what they do and when they do it and who they do it to. That will require me to find ways of linking them to specific incidents, particular practices (farming, blacksmithing etc), and so on.
Those characters will, of course, be in the form of notes which is what TB is excellent at. But, my question is this: does anyone have some suggestions as to how I might link the mass of data (and it really is becoming a mass and a mess) in DT to the notes I’ll be making (maybe in TB) so that I can begin to get an overview and see how characters interlink with each other as well as with events and so on?
I like the ways I’ve seen TB handle connections between things, but I’m uncertain as to the validity of the connection with DT.
I hope I’ve given sufficient info to allow suggestions. If not, please ask for more.

The connection with DEVONthink is solid; I don’t think you need worry on that score.

What you’ll do, I expect, is to use the $URL of the village blacksmith Jo to your DEVONthink article on blacksmiths. Or, perhaps you’ll link a note about the blacksmith service as a postal service to a particular ethnographic paper you’ve put in DEVONthink.

Writing Those Trojan Girls, I found Tinderbox simply invaluable for keeping track of the cast. School stories have lots of characters — students, teachers, parents — and it’s easy to think up an interesting backstory on Tuesday and to forget by Thursday which kid has that interesting backstory.

Tinderbox can also be a good place to store incidents and passages that you know you want to use, if you (a) don’t know where they fit, or (b) want to write them now but don’t expect to write the surrounding material for some time.

Tinderbox can also be very useful for keeping track of plot consistency, of avoiding a situation that requires Jo to be at two different places simultaneously. My favorite example of this was a Tinderbox Weekend presentation a few years back about writing the book for a musical: if a chorus member is “Jo” in scene 13 and must return as “Ken” in scene 15, you need to make time for the costume change and also make sure that Ken enters from the wing to which Jo leaves.

Thanks for the quick response.
I’m guessing that the ‘$URL’ thing is a way of identifying the TB note and relating it to something in DT.
I can certainly see that keeping a hold of characters in TB could be a great deal easier.
I forgot that I’ve started a timeline of major events (kings, battles, dates of Easter Sunday etc) in Aeon Timeline, but it occurs to me that TB might be a better way of doing that. Am I wrong?

Aeon vs Tinderbox: it depends. Aeon looks better, and is less finicky. It’s another thing to use, so there’s more to learn (though that’s not necessarily bad!). It’s not very hard to export from Tinderbox in an Aeon-readable format.

Further to the reply above, it’s not difficult to export from Aeon to Tinderbox. If you have both apps, Aeon is still useful as (story) plotting was one of its original design ideas. AE->TB is via Tab-delimited export. Tinderbox still has a timeline, so dates moved back/forth from Aeon Timeline can still be used in Tinderbox.

Actually many uses of Tinderbox share the same techniques, just in different ways. So, just because someone describes a task different from yours, don’t assume a lack of commonality. Even if they aren’t writing fiction, many here can likely help you get started. As it is a user community, describing the problem at hand “I’m trying to …” rather than open-ended “How do I achieve this idea in my mind’s eye?” will help the community here help you. If the problem is difficult to describe, screenshots or small example TBX files are useful—not least as they given a common frame of reference for discussion.

Althuogh it’s from a few years back you might find Eastgate’s short tutorial “The Romero Case” useful (the page’s left margin has links to the various parts of the tutorial). Although about figuring out a legal case, most of the exploration is relevant to plotting a story. Don’t get too hung up on visual style, but look at the broad process, e.g. which attributes control which visual aspects, linking, prototypes, etc. If you haven’t found them already there are also two PDF tutorial documents in the Tinderbox Help menu “Getting Started with Tinderbox” and “Actions and Dashboards”.

Good luck with your project and do come back with questions if you get stuck.

Some extra functional/reference resources (disclaimer - all written by me).

Thanks for the pointers, especially on the best way to ask for help!
I’ll disappear for a while and start thinking and playing around with ideas and possible approaches, so that I can ask better questions later on.

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How do you maintain Aeon timelines next to / in conjunction with a Tinderbox document? Especially “move back and forth”?

I’m interested as well.

TB->AT and vice versa, use CSV or tab-delimited export.

Exporting from TB you’ll need to make your own templates for export. Ingesting to AT you have a dialog on import to map data columns to AT fields. AT has limited metadata compared to TB, but for $Name, $Title, $StartDate, $EndDate you should be fine.

Going from AT the export is fixed you just get a choice of CSV or Tab-delim and date format. You may need to edit the column heads in a text editor, after export, before adding to TB. Note that if you use a fantasy calendar, such as AT allows don’t expect it to work in TB.

So there isn’t a built-in AT/TB method and this is_not a sync process_ and ingested data isn’t merged. but you can move data. Anything more deliberate probably an ROI judgment for both apps’ devs as to the number of users moving data and frequency of the task. FWIW, Matt Tobin of AT seem’s pretty helpful - or certainly in my dealing with him. AT also has its own support forum.

I’ve not raised the hood on AT for a while but for the v2 betas I did test data import using data generated in TB. I’ve just checked and while TB now supports AppleScript, AT does not.

Thank you! Something else to be working on

Thank you @mwra

When I read “back/forth” I jumped to the conclusion that there was some secret sauce that enabled sync between Tinderbox and Aeon.

Timeline data is zipped JSON, so very tractable to script – JS in particular.

True, and even without scripting it is easily editable in a tool like BBEdit as the XML is plaintext as in a TBX file.