A PIM used to be a blackberry-like device for keeping information handy while on the go. But, I have recently discovered the power in writing a novel by using a PIM, or Personal Information Manager. One of the simplest and easiest that I have found to use is EfficientPIM from EfficientPIM.com.
I used to have both ACT and Maximizer on my computer, and I've had access to Goldmine in the past, but I've always used them for contact information -- publishers, agents, addresses, events, etc. For my needs, they are all like trying to kill and ant with a sledgehammer. What I needed was something that was lightweight in the KBs, but heavy on information management...something that would provide the power I needed without slowing me down. EfficientPIM seems to be just what I've been looking for. It's...well...just as the name implies...efficient.
EfficientPIM is even more robust than I expected. Yes, it gives me the ability to still store information about those blood-sucking literary agents...er, I mean my very best friend Jason in New York. But, EfficientPIM also allows me the flexibility to literally create a character as one of my contacts. I can create birthdays for my character, personality traits, even their business activity. All of that information is stored in a neat card-file presentation, so that I don't forget that a particular character has blue eyes and gray hair - not the other way around. Unlimited note taking allows me to write down random thoughts about characters so that I don't misplace them among the mountains of notes and papers on my desk. There's even a diary, so that I can track my writing time each day, or record ideas for later development. Customized fields allow me to record minute details about my characters. It's a neat piece of software, and I'm quite glad I ran across it.
One very cool feature of EfficientPIM, is the ability to have different databases for different projects. So, in order to keep my characters and stories straight, I develop one database for one book, but a different database for a different book. There's no mixing of characters or the accidental confusion of stories. When I open one of my saved databases, there are all of my characters showing as unique "contacts", with all of their information complete. When I'm done working on that project, I close the database, and open an entirely different one. Very cool, and very compartmentalized for busy writers who have multiple projects underway.
In the past, I've done a great deal of my character note-taking on a word processor. While I have no idea what closing of synapse made me think of using a PIM instead, I'm certainly glad that I did.
If you've become stumped on keeping track of plots, characters, chapter outlines, and the pittance of royalties that flow into the "incoming" basket each day, you might just want to consider a PIM for a new approach. At $39, EfficientPIM won't break the bank, either. And, if the only record keeping, character development, and book outlining that you've done is on a yellow pad or sticky notes, then you owe yourself a huge favor of considering a PIM. EfficientPIM.com offers a 30-day free trial. However, I think you'll be so pleased that you won't wait until the trial ends. You'll own it right away.
That's it for today. I'm still at work on "Mandate", but with my new PIM, I believe I will be far more...er...efficient than I have in the past.