Yes, a spanking new feature here at the old blogging homestead. Scrivener wasn’t  keeping me busy and I had to find a new challenge. Actually with Scrivener there’s still quite a bit to learn and teach. I am no where near completing a level of expertise. So why jump on the Tinderbox bandwagon? Apart from being a powerful organization tool, it also provides a stunning visual of the opus. Before we get to this (note: for better viewing, click on the images and you’ll also get to follow a much-needed revised novel in the making).


We need to start with this:


But there are a few steps, before we get that note. When you first open Tinderbox, you’ll see what is essentially an ecru whiteboard and a floating toolbar. To create a note, click on the hand tool and double-click anywhere on the screen and a window appear that says “Create Note.” Notes are the basic unit of writing and story information in Tinderbox.

Create Note

We’re going to make this simple for now. Don’t worry about color, prototypes, attributes or any of the other options. Our main concern is to name it. So I figure because we’re using Tinderbox to help us plot a novel, we’ll use the one I wrote and stuck in a drawer years ago because it was God awful. So, we’ll name our first character Madalyn Rosental. Hit OK.

The current view is in Outline View. If you want to see the different views Tinderbox offers, go to View and you’ll see what’s featured. For this exercise, we’ll focus on Outline View and Map View.


The little rectangle, shown above,  that looks like a piece of dark chocolate is the “Note.” You can resize your note, by clicking on it and pulling the attached handlebars. When you hit the space bar, it opens up a new window wherein you can write text about your character. For the moment, don’t worry about the options on the left-hand side.

Madalyn Text

After you’ve entered the information about your character, close the window. You’ll notice the corner of the square block is turned up, which means there’s information in the note. Pull on the corner to resize it and, voilà, you can see the text you typed in.

To add another note, double-click on the Map View page and another note will appear. You’ll also see that it’s listed in the Outline View. You can type in the new character’s name directly into the box or hit the space bar and fill in the information for that new character.

To link the two characters you have a few options. Option one: you’ll see there’s a downward pointing arrow widget on the selected note, click on that and a link will appear, drag it to a note destination. Option two: Select the note; at the bottom of the Map View page you’ll see a note icon with a link, click on it and a link will appear; drag it to a note you want to link. Option three: select the note, go to the menu bar, select Note=>Create Link (or ctl+cmd+L)and a link will appear and drag that to the appropriate note. Each time you activate a link, a window will pop open. At the point, you can type what the relationship is between the two characters in the “Type” field, or leave it as is.

Another way you can link is from the actual text in a note. In the Richard Larson text, I highlighted Maggie Larson, went to the menu bar and selected Footnote=>Sibling, a note window pops open with Maggie Larson already typed in. Now you only need to type in her relevant information.When you close the window, you’ll see both Richard and Maggie linked together in the Map View. The link will have note+ attached to it indicating there’s a connection between the two. If you want to specify the relationship, open Richard Larson’s note. On the left hand side you’ll see link. Click on that and you’ll see in the drop menu: Make a link, Browse links, and below both Madalyn’s and Maggie’s names.

Browse Link

Click on Browse links, select Maggie Larson. To the right, in a drop down menu, you can specify what that link is. For Richard, he is Maggie’s Father. Type that in, hit apply. Follow the same steps for Maggie and Madalyn (or your own characters).


Link Relationship

Your  map should look like this:

Map and Outline View

In this particular example, I expanded the notes so you could see what they hold. They can be resized to show only the names, and if you don’t want to show the relationship Maggie and Richard, just open Maggie’s note, go to Links=>Brows links=>Select Richard (or whomever) and hit delete. This is what it looks like after the notes have been resized and with a deleted link.

Final Shot

And that is lesson one of this Tinderbox Tuesday series. Next lesson, we’ll focus on attributes, adornments, and making the map look prettier. For more help, I urge you to watch Mark Bernstein’s video, read both the Help Manual and the Tinderbox Wikipage. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.


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