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Zahmoo for writers

If you’re a writer, a journalist, a scriptwriter or novelist, no doubt you’ll find yourself collecting many of what Gerry Weinberg describes as ‘fieldstones‘. These are small fragments of story or dialogue that seemingly arrive at random – from our imagination, perhaps, or from snippets of real-life conversation overheard in passing. Often at first they won’t seem to have any specific place in any larger piece of work: but we know they’ll be useful for something. Which means we need to keep them somewhere safe, until we do know where they fit…

That’s where Zahmoo can come into this story, to provide a safe, secure, searchable place to store your ‘fieldstones’.

The key point about these ‘fieldstones’ of story is that we know they have a place somewhere: it’s just that we don’t yet know where. Most writing-tools organise material by project – but we don’t yet have a project where these would fit. So we keep them safe in Zahmoo until their right place turns up.

To do this, first set up your own Zahmoo story-bank. Remember that you can share a story-bank with others – your writing-partner, for example – which means that you can share and review your ‘fieldstones’ with those others too. A writing-group can share a common pool of ‘fieldstones’ to use and re-use in different ways across different people’s writing-projects, or to trigger new ideas. In Zahmoo, up to 20 people can share a Family story-bank, and no limit for a Community story-bank, so it’s simple to do this with a group of any size.

Once you’re set up, be ready to capture those story-fragments at any time in text, audio or video. They often arrive without warning, anywhere, anywhen: there’s a real skill in catching them as they pass by. And because Zahmoo is web-based, you can use a smartphone to save new ‘fieldstones’ to your story-bank from anywhere – you don’t even need to wait until you get home.

Most important, though: don’t forget the metadata! Zahmoo will automatically attach a timestamp to your story-record, but the rest is up to you: so do remember to add your own tags and keywords too, to help you find and match the ‘fieldstone’ to its appropriate place in a larger story at some future time.

Within Zahmoo, use tags and the search-box to help you find appropriate ‘fieldstones’ for use in your current project. It’s also useful to maintain the comments for each story-record, to help you keep track of which ‘fieldstones’ have been used in which projects and what ways: that can be especially important in a shared story-bank where ‘fieldstones’ might be used and re-used by different people.

That’s one way for writers to use Zahmoo: what other ways have you found? Please let us know!

[Many thanks to Shawn Callahan of Anecdote for the idea for this piece.]

Image credit: GLS writing-group by Christopher Holden under a Creative Commons BY-2.0 licence.

January 14th, 2012 by Zahmoo
Filed in: For Community, For Family, How to
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Zahmoo is a story bank for collecting and sharing your family and business stories.