“…the primary source for serious hypertext” – Robert Coover, The New York Times Book Review

Writing With Storyspace

Gerhard Werner, M.D. lives near Austin, Texas.

The name "Storyspace" squarely places the program in the literary-textual domain. It can indeed be used this way, and for this it is an elegant tool that transforms contemporary critical Theory into a Praxis. There is no need for me to elaborate this facet of Storyspace: the evidence is abundant and convincing.

facet of Storyspace that remained concealed...

Rather, I want to speak to that facet of Storyspace that remained to me (and I presume to many others) concealed for quite some time: its potential to fulfill an eminently useful role for collecting and organizing notes and data, and for experimenting with their structural arrangement in preparation for writing reports and papers. Being one who never reads instruction manuals, I discovered only very recently that Storyspace is in fact described as A Tool for Serious Writers. Let me then offer my own experience which progressed over time from casual, unsystematic and tentative steps to a fairly massive undertaking, merely to discover what I would have learned, had I read the Manual in the first place.

I should explain that I am a omnivorous reader with interests scattered over traditionally quite heterogeneous fields. Usually, each text read branches out into others, related thematically or historically, and requiring additional reading of sources. The problem I encountered was keeping track of this ever growing branching tree, until I stumbled on to the idea of trying Storyspace for tracking my yet-to-be-read sources. I started with the writing space that represented the parent source, and set up the child spaces as placeholders for the references to be procured and read as time moved on.

The stuff-to-be-read was clearly laid out on the screen...

This eliminated in one stroke pages of disorganized, often misplaced and mostly illegible handwritten notes of my ever-growing loose-leave folder to-be-done. Instead, the stuff-to-be-read was clearly laid out on the screen of my Powerbook, with space already reserved for placing the appropriate notes or comments in the proper place of their family tree.

From here, it was only a natural progression to take the next step at which I am now: I assembled a chaos of some 400 writing spaces of notes, excerpts from works read, and ideas with which I experiment to look for basins of attractors with satisfactory logical structure and coherence.

For me, Storyspace has indeed become WritingSpace.