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Hiveword Five Year Retrospective

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on November 26, 2016 9:27 am


Today is Hiveword’s fifth birthday! Or anniversary. Whatever you call it it’s been five years of helping writers achieve their dreams. I’m both excited and proud of that.

This post is a bit of a retrospective. There will be behind-the-scenes information and maybe even a baby picture. Tomorrow I’ll have some great tips from Hiveword power users so be sure to check that out, too. But for now it’s time to get retro.

In 2008 I conceived the idea for Hiveword. Man, was it going to be cool! However, I didn’t start development until 2009. Sadly, 2009 passed by. Then 2010 and still Hiveword was not available to the masses. I’m not even sure why it took so long. Crazy.

In January 2011, Hiveword was born. Sort of. You see, while I was working on Hiveword, author Elizabeth Spann Craig and I joined forces to unleash the Writers’ Knowledge Base (WKB) on the world. The WKB is a search engine for writers with nearly 40,000 articles on writing.

The collaboration was serendipitous in that I had had a back-burnered idea for capturing writing articles in a search engine and coincidentally Elizabeth wished for a way to make her tweeted articles significantly less ephemeral than the Twitter experience.

Here’s a baby picture of the WKB that I sent to Elizabeth in the early days:


You can learn more about the WKB birth story here.

So, Elizabeth got me as a developer to help with her problem. I got a shiny new project to work on which was great for procrastinating on Hiveword. What could go wrong?


Nothing went wrong and the WKB has been a well-loved resource for writers. To this day it captures Elizabeth’s tweets and makes them available to writers via the search engine. A very recent development is that the articles are now categorized such that the WKB will be a search engine AND a directory of articles on writing.

While you may look at the WKB and see a stand-alone website, it’s actually an integrated part of Hiveword under the covers. In fact, that integration is most evident via MyWKB (launched in 2012) which is a personalized form of the WKB. For example, MyWKB will show you a list of the new articles since the last time you logged in. This will eventually allow you to get emails of new articles by category if you so choose. Basically, the WKB continues to grow up.

Speaking of growing up, Hiveword had been gestating for a long time by this point. Finally, in November 2011… Hiveword was born!

Hiveword is a free novel organizer which lets you track characters, settings, scenes, etc. Tens of thousands of people have used it to organize their novels and it makes me very happy that I’ve been able to help them in this way.

Is Hiveword pretty? No, not in the least. My baby is UGLY. But, it is functional and I’ve gotten many compliments on how easy it is to use so that warms my heart.

Between 2011 and early 2013 Hiveword was steadily improved but nothing flashy. As I mentioned above, MyWKB was released in 2012 to personalize the WKB. Then, in early 2013 I approached author and writing coach James Scott Bell to see if he’d be interested in collaborating on a software product for helping writers. Luckily, he was interested and in 2013 Knockout Novel was introduced.

Knockout Novel is based on Bell’s Plot and Structure book and guides the writer through interactive, self-paced prompts to polish a story to a fine sheen. Like the WKB before it, Knockout Novel is an integrated part of the Hiveword novel organizer. In the case of Knockout Novel you can have your story with all of its characters, scenes, and whatnot along with your answers to the Knockout Novel prompts. Knockout Novel gets you lifetime access to the product and you can use it on as many stories as you’d like.

Knockout Novel was my first real foray into charging for a product. Getting some money coming in was great because it helped to defray the cost of running the site. A free novel organizer isn’t free to everyone, after all, and I was glad to have some help footing the bill.

Things were kind of quiet after Knockout Novel was released until early 2016 when Hiveword Plus was introduced. Development in that area has been at a feverish pace. Plus is a set of premium features for Hiveword including custom types and fields, image uploads, etc. While most people can (and definitely do) get by on what I now call Hiveword Basic (the free version), folks serious about organizing will love what Plus offers.

To my knowledge, no other organizer allows you to create your own types or add fields to existing ones such as scenes or characters. Want to track spells? You can do it. Want to add an area for Theme on a story? You can do that, too. This is by far my favorite feature because users can customize Hiveword to their needs.

Hiveword Plus is under very active development. It’s a subscription service and is billed yearly. Today, it’s still at the introductory rate of $25/year as a thank you to early users.

So, you’re now current on history. I hope it wasn’t too boring. I have so many awesomely huge ideas for Hiveword that I will continue working toward my original vision for some time to come.

Tomorrow I’ll continue the birthday celebration with some awesome tips from Hiveword power users.

What’s your favorite part of the Hiveword suite?

There are only two days left to win Hiveword Plus or Knockout Novel. Check it out before it’s too late!



Image Uploads in Hiveword Plus

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on October 11, 2016 6:08 am

It’s here!

You can now attach pictures to your characters, settings, and just about anything else in Hiveword.

Image Browser Filter

In my last post, I provided a preview of the features around image uploading. Everything there still applies but I’ve tweaked a few things to make the experience smoother. Those sorts of changes don’t convey very well in screenshots, though. The screenshot above is new, however, and shows how you can easily filter images by story, type, and tag. This filtering is consistent with scene and note filtering.

I won’t waste your time with a rehash of the last post but please check that out and see what you can do with it. I think it’s pretty cool. 😉

Currently, there is no limit to the number of pictures you can upload as I think you should be able to upload everything you need for your stories. That will have to change if there is widespread abuse of the policy but for now… unlimited, baby!

I hope you like this new feature. I’d love to get your thoughts on it along with any ideas you have to make it better. 


This feature is part of Hiveword Plus. There’s a two week free trial if you want to try out Plus’ features which includes the picture upload described here. You also get the ultimate in novel organizer customizability with the exclusive Custom Fields and Types feature where you can track anything from spells to starships. Learn more about Hiveword Plus here.



Image Upload Preview

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on September 18, 2016 10:31 pm

One of the most popular feature requests for Hiveword is uploading images. I’m pleased to say that it will be released soon! In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a taste of what you can expect. This is early access, of course, so things may change a little. (You can click on the images for a bigger view.)

Let’s get started with the Image Browser:

Image Browser

The image browser screen shows thumbnails of all the images you’ve uploaded. The idea here is that you can quickly browse through the images to find what you want. In all of the screenshots, clicking on the image itself will take you to the image’s detail page. The image browser will also have a filter mechanism so that you can winnow down the images to just one story, for example. If you’re familiar with Hiveword’s Scene list filter then you already know what to expect.

If you’ve used Hiveword Plus then you know that the Notes feature allows you to attach notes to things (scenes, settings, etc.) or leave them as free-standing unattached notes. The same idea applies to images. In the next screenshot you’ll see the Van Halo character page where I’ve attached images to the character himself.

Images for Character

The image viewer on the character page can be expanded (to see the images) or minimized (to get them out of the way). As you can see, you can add images directly from this page with the Add Images button.

When you click on an image you are taken to the image detail page where you can name the image, add tags, or write about it.

Image Details

The first screenshot I showed you was the Image Browser which showed a condensed view of all the images. A related view called Image List is a combination of the browser and image details which you can easily scroll through. Note that this page shows an image’s tags, description, and what it’s attached to (if anything).


Like the Image Browser screen, the List view will also have the filtering capability.

There you have it — a whirlwind tour of the forthcoming image upload capability. One thing I didn’t mention is just how the heck you get the images into Hiveword in the first place. Luckily, that’s pretty simple. There’s a special upload screen that allows you to add images via a file picker or drag and drop. It’s utterly simple to use.

The image upload feature is part of Hiveword Plus which is the paid upgrade to basic Hiveword. Plus currently offers custom types and fields, a journal, notes, and (shortly!) images. If you are interested in Hiveword Plus you can save money by signing up now because the price will be going up after the image feature is added. Right now, Hiveword Plus is available for $25 per year and you’ll be locked in for life at that rate even when it goes up. $25 is $2.08 a month. It’s a steal! After all, $2.08 won’t even get you a Starbucks latte.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new feature and any ideas you might have related to it. Feel free to comment below or shoot me an email at




New Character Types

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on June 20, 2016 8:57 pm

Just a quick update about some new character types. Previously, the character types were

  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Neutral

Those still exist but there are now two more:

  • False Protagonist
  • False Antagonist

These are useful when you have a character that isn’t what they seem at first.

This post would be prettier with a screenshot, don’t you think?

Character Types

Hiveword user Josie F. requested this change. Now it’s your turn. What’s your great idea for making Hiveword better?



Assign chapter from scene page

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on May 17, 2016 6:33 am

Hiveword user Kevin H. recently suggested several features. The first one to be implemented is a way to assign a chapter to a scene within the scene page itself. Previously, you had to do that from the Scenes by Chapter page. (You still can, of course.)

Have a look at the screenshot below:


The new piece is the Chapter dropdown. All of your chapters are in the dropdown in the correct order. You can assign the scene to a chapter or remove the chapter assignment altogether.

The dropdown will only appear if you have chapters defined. If you are like me and don’t use chapters then it won’t be in the way. It’s the best of both worlds, I think.

Now it’s your turn! Do you have any ideas for new features or improvements on old ones? I’d love to hear from you. Simply drop a comment below, email me at, or use the Comments link at the top right of the page when you are signed in to Hiveword. There’s also Twitter, Facebook, and carrier pigeon if you prefer those avenues. There’s an extra fee for the last one, though.




Scene List Summaries

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on May 13, 2016 6:24 am

Hiveword user Matt N. requested a cool feature: show scene summaries in the scenes list. What a great idea! Here’s a screenshot:

Scene List Summaries

As you can see, summaries are included with the normal scene information. By default, the summaries are not displayed. To show them, simply click the Show Summaries checkbox. To save vertical scrolling, only 600 characters of a summary are displayed. The idea is to give you a taste of what the scene is about. To see the whole summary simply click on the scene link to go to the scene detail page.

Filters work like they always have. In the screenshot there is an active filter so non-matching scenes are dimmed as usual.

I hope you like this new feature!





Tracking Notes

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on April 25, 2016 5:50 am

You can now track notes in Hiveword Plus*.

Notes can be attached to most things: stories, scenes, characters, etc. You can also have unattached notes that are not part of any story.

Here’s an example of notes for a scene:

Scene Notes

The notes popup is embedded in the scene page. The normal scene textboxes and such are right below the notes so you can refer to your notes if needed or close the notes popup to get it out of your way.

The notes textbox is resizable and the entire notes popup is, too, so you can see exactly what you want. There is no limit to the number of notes you can assign.

All of the other pages — characters, settings, etc. — have the same way of managing notes.

Eventually, you’ll have notes all over the place. It sure would be nice to see all of them in one place, wouldn’t it? Behold:

Notes List

The screenshot above is the notes list page. It shows all of your notes from any story. On the screenshot you’ll see an “Unassigned” note. This note is not connected to any story.

The notes list also has filters that operate the same way as the scene filters. With these filters you can easily find just the set of notes you need.

Notes can also be tagged. Sensible tagging will help immensely as you accumulate more notes. Here’s a good example: I’m using unassigned notes to track my story premise ideas. I tag the notes “premise.” From the notes list page I can select the “premise” tag via the filter and only see my “premise” notes.

Do you have any clever ideas for how you’re going to use notes?

*  Hiveword Plus offers extra features in Hiveword. Currently, Hiveword Plus is half price during development so be sure to take advantage of that if you like the features.



Hiveword Updates

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on 5:48 am

Hiveword update time!


The big news is notes that you can attach to pretty much anything — scenes, characters, etc. The notes are taggable and you can view all of them in one place with a powerful filter for finding what you want. Notes are part of the Hiveword Plus upgrade. I’ll talk more about notes in my next post.


The Scenes by Plotline page lists scenes vertically and then plotlines as horizontally. This allows you to quickly see how plotlines weave throughout your scenes. The feature itself has been around for a while but the plotlines were ordered by name. Since users can manually sort plotlines it makes sense to present them in the user’s sorted order and not by name. Now it is so.

Font Size

Eventually I want to make the application properly customizable. But, since that is a low priority, I’ve boosted the font size in the textboxes in the meantime. I hope this makes your eyes happier. I know it does mine!

Are You Sure?

If you’ve ever edited a scene, character, or whatever, and then tried to leave the page without first saving it you have seen the “Are You Sure?” dialog that saves you from losing data. But, boy, was it ugly. I mean UGLY. Now it is less so. 😉

That’s all for now. While no one complained about Are You Sure?, the rest of the changes were user requests. So, don’t be shy about contacting me with suggestions.

Until next time…





So embarrassing!

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 1.49.28 PM



Track Anything with Custom Types and Fields

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on January 23, 2016 3:40 pm

You know what the problem is with novel organizers? They let you track characters and scenes and such but they don’t let you track magic spells. Or starships. Or whatever else is important to you.

I’m pleased to say that this problem is solved in Hiveword.

You can now track anything you want in Hiveword. Spells and starships, sure, but you can also track political parties, countries, warring clans, fancy hats, guilds, ice cream, monsters, books, weapons, etc. You can even track intangible things such as writing prompts or notes for key plot points. What you track depends on your needs and creativity.

In Hiveword parlance each thing is called a custom type. Each type can contain any number of fields — defined by you! — for capturing the data you want to track for that type. How about a juicy example? Here’s a screenshot showing a custom type for tracking spells (click the image for a bigger view):

Sample Spell

There’s a lot behind this simple screenshot. I created a type called “Spells” and now my stories have a menu called “My Types” which allows me to create a new spell just like I would create a new scene or character. The integration is transparent and consistent.

How does this magic work? Before you can add your type to a story you need to define it. You create the type (which is really just giving it a name) and then add the fields. For adding fields you use the the intuitive fields builder which even has a live preview. Here’s an example:

Fields for Spells

As you add, edit, remove, or sort fields the preview at the bottom will show you exactly what it will look like in your stories. Notice that you can even group your fields. Powerful stuff.

I hope that your jaw is agape at the possibilities. Perhaps you’re drooling. Either response would be awesome. 😉 However, I have one more bit of magic with which to dazzle you…

As you’ve seen above, you can add custom fields to custom types but you can also add custom fields to existing Hiveword types such as scenes and characters! Want to track another attribute for your characters? You can do it. Want to add a box for Theme on the Story page? You can do that, too. The following screenshot shows custom fields added to the character page:

Extra character fields

You add fields to existing types using the fields builder mentioned above. Entering data for the character is done exactly the same as always.

As you can see, custom types and fields essentially let you create your own personalized novel organizer. This is a Hiveword exclusive. This feature is part of Hiveword Plus which is a paid add-on to Hiveword. Hiveword Plus currently has custom types and fields and a writer’s journal. More features are coming. Right now you can lock in a low introductory price while I’m adding the new features. This is my way of thanking you for getting in early. To sign up, log in to Hiveword and click Upgrade at the top of the page or click the link above. There’s a 14 day free trial so there’s no risk to have a look.

In my next post I’ll talk about the new Journal feature. See you then!





Updates: Sorting stories and naming characters

By Mike Fleming (@hiveword) on January 15, 2016 6:40 am

Many folks have asked for the ability to sort stories and to refer to characters by something other then first names. These changes are available now.

First, story sorting…

Stories used to be presented in alphabetical order. This is perfect until it’s not. 😉 For example, folks might want to group a novel series together, put their most recent work at the top, etc.

To allow for diverse story sorting needs you can now manually sort your stories in the same way that you would sort scenes or characters. Simply use the Sort button on the Dashboard (aka story list) and you’ll be on your way to ordering your stories as you see fit.

Next up, character names…

Before, the “reference name” at the top of the character page was tied to the First Name field. Change the first name and the reference name will change and vice versa. Like alphabetical story sorting this was also perfect until it wasn’t.

In the screenshot below you can see that the reference name is “Van” and the first name is, too. They used to always be the same.

Linked Character Names

Now, the reference name and first name are no longer linked. In the screenshot below you can see that I made the reference name “Van Halo” which is different from the first name. The reference name is used everywhere that the character is referred to such as the character list or when included in a scene.

Unlinked Character Names

I hope you find these changes useful. As usual, please feel free to contact me about new features, questions, etc.