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  • Caitlyn Lynch

Plotting With Trello

That sounds kind of nefarious, doesn't it? As though Trello is perhaps some mysterious, sexy Italian who you're teaming up with to cover up a murder.

This is Taco, Trello's mascot. He's too cute to plot murders.

Well, that might be part of your plot, but it's not what this post is about, I'm afraid. No, this is another in my series of Writing Tools for Authors, and Trello is another fantastically wonderful (free!) tool that I'm not sure how I ever managed without.

Before I go into specifics, here's a quick disclaimer; I am not being paid in any way by Trello for this blog post. I just happen to think that they have a fantastic product and everyone should know about it :D. If you do sign up to Trello by clicking on the very first link I put at the top, or on this link here, I can get Trello Gold for a free month (up to a maximum of 12 months if 12 people sign up). That's it; that's all I stand to get out of it.

Now yes, of course there are paid versions of Trello. You can see their pricing structure here, but unless you're a big-business writer, I cannot see you needing more than the Free version or (possibly) Trello Gold. The only real difference between the free basic plan and Trello Gold is that you can save your searches and you have a 250MB attachment limit as opposed to 10MB on the free plan.

Trello Business actually has more functionality at $9.99 per user per month because it integrates with Evernote, Github, Mailchimp, Google Drive, Dropbox and more. If you're willing and able to pay a monthly fee for it then I would say that is the way to go rather than Gold.

Today, though, I'm just going to talk about Trello Free and all the wonderful things it can do for you as a writer.

First of all, and most AMAZING in my eyes, it talks to EVERYTHING. It's perfectly synchronized across iOS, Windows and Android devices.


Oh come on, we all know how rare that is. I love Google Docs but it does NOT play nice all the time. I regularly have to go back into my (Android) phone after Swyping out a scene on the go and re-upload it to convince it to sync with my PC. Trello? Perfection. Every time.

Another thing I can hardly believe about Trello Free; it gives you infinite boards. That's right. No limiting it to 3 (like MindMeister) or 10 or some other number that you'll quickly find isn't enough. As many as you want. And you can share those boards publicly, with collaborators if you add them to a team so that they can edit the board, or just for viewing to anyone you share the link with.

You can forward emails to your boards, you can set deadlines on any card you add to a board, you can even enable voting on cards! Who knows, maybe you're That Author who just has so many amazing ideas you can't decide what to write next and you're willing to let your fans vote on them!

I use Trello boards to store ideas, prompts, random lines of dialogue and scenarios, and whatever else comes into my head. You can use it to make shopping lists, organize tasks, or set yourself deadlines - as many as you need. Check out some of Trello's collection of Inspirational boards here for heaps of ideas.

I honestly believe that everyone can find a use for Trello in their daily life, but writers especially.

I've recently started using Trello to organize story ideas and plots before I start laying them out in Scrivener, though, and in this post, I want to share with you how I use Trello to keep track of my characters.

I made a new board called My New Book and I added some lists to start organizing cards under. What you call these lists really depends on what kind of writer you are. You can use Trello any way you want.

You can see that in the Characters list, I added three cards (for now). My MC, a Love Interest (I am a romance writer, after all!) and a Rival.

Now, if you already used my method of using MindMeister to create a character, you can totally cheat and attach a screenshot of your MindMap right there in the card.

Click on the relevant card to open it up, and then on Attachment. Upload your MindMap screenshot from wherever you stashed it and hey presto. You got a character card.

Could that be any easier? Seriously?

Now, if you didn't make a MindMap for your character, you can go in and add physical description, character traits, all those details in the card comments instead, or as well, if you don't want to keep re-editing and uploading your MindMap when you think of something new to add. Add in a photo, if you're using a 'muse'. Just make sure that you own the rights to the image if you're sharing it publicly or you're opening up a can of copyright worms you don't really want!

You can (and probably should) rename the card with your character's name once you've chosen it. Now, anytime you think of something new about your character, or you want to check (for example) what color you described the love interest's eyes as (*cough* why no I've never forgotten that crucial detail in the middle of a story, what makes you ask? *cough*) you can just click into the card and there it is, all laid out in one convenient place.

One convenient place you can carry around with you absolutely everywhere, thanks to Trello's multi-platform integration.

So what are you waiting for? Go check out Trello today! You can stop by and let me know how much you love it later :)

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