A brief history of Notebook.ai
I’m Andrew, and those that know me know I relentlessly spend all of my time pursuing my passions in both writing and coding. This is my 8th year participating in National Novel Writing Month (and hopefully 4th year winning!), and every year I’ve itched a little more to build a tool to help creatives build the rich worlds their stories are set in. A year ago I took a huge leap and registered my first company, Indent Labs, to develop smarter writing software for authors.
Indent Labs quickly released Dactyl in January and followed up with Retort in March, two very powerful backend APIs to empower other developers to build smart writing tools. Since then, my friends and I working on Indent’s open source software have been hard at work on the next big step towards the future of writing: Notebook.ai.
Create rich characters
You know that old notebook tucked away with all your ideas over the years? Notebook.ai is kind of like that, except with a handful of benefits inherent to moving to a digital form:
- Your universes are always available, from any device, at any time.
- Your ideas are secure and backed up; they’ll always be there for you.
- You own 100% of your content. Notebook.ai happily stores it for you.
Rather than digging out a notebook the next time you get an idea for a character, give Notebook.ai a shot. You can jot down freeform notes or outline structured details about the new being you’re creating.
If you don’t have an idea in mind already, you can use Notebook.ai anyway. Upon creating a new character, the notebook will ask about how they look, what they believe in, what motivates them, where they came from, and a myriad of other easily-answered questions that are fun to answer and develop your characters little by little.
Sculpt magnificent lands
Creating a magnificent world that readers can get lost in can be just as important as the provocative characters within. Notebook.ai allows planning detailed locations in the same way users can create and outline characters.
Each location you create will ask for a general description, as well as more comprehensive details like population, currencies, lingua franca, historical events, and other notable locations within. You can link directly to other locations, creating clickable two-way links to and from each location’s page in your notebook.
As you can see from the the village of Mudon’s notebook page, you can also add any kind of content you plan to “universes”, which let you organize and filter your worlds. Using universes, you can filter out everything unrelated to the story you’re working on and focus entirely on what’s relevant right now.
Forge legendary items
Items are a perfect example of the depth of thought that goes into meticulously creating a thorough and detailed world that captures your reader’s imagination.
Just because you may not go into the backstory of a legendary sword — or an ancient book, or a late grandpa’s favorite trunk, or whatever items you may have in your tales — doesn’t mean that backstory doesn’t exist. Knowing how that sword was forged (or who wrote that book, or what made that trunk so special to your grandpa) gives you a intense, deep understanding of your world that always ends up showing through to your readers.
Creating an item in Notebook.ai will prompt for its name and description, of course, but also ask about what materials the item’s made of, who originally (and currently) owns it, and more.
Collaborate with other bright minds
Ideas are important, and your notebook is entirely yours. You retain 100% ownership over all ideas and creations you plan inside it, and all content is completely private and for your eyes only by default.
However, if you like to collaborate or want to get feedback on a character, location, item, or entire universe, you can toggle that content’s (or entire universe’s) privacy setting from private to public with the “Share” button at the top-right of any notebook page.
When content is public, it is available to anyone with the URL, and immediately reverts to a private page if you ever toggle the privacy switch back. You can share your notebook page URLs on any medium (including Medium!) and your viewers will be able to click through to any other linked pages that are also marked public. For example, if you have a character named Alice who links Bob as a best friend, viewers will be able to click on Bob’s name from Alice’s notebook page and they’ll be whisked away to Bob’s notebook page — as long as it’s public as well.
So what’s next for Notebook.ai?
This is just the beginning for this super smart notebook. Our primary concern for the next month is ensuring reliable site stability as interest continues to rise, but you can still expect a handful of usability features getting ready to release in the next few weeks.
The biggest benefit authors can expect in the future is an improved AI ready to assist them in creating richer worlds. The same system that can already recognize information missing from content and ask authors about it (and then go organize and save the author’s response) will soon be able to ask deeper and more stimulating questions, find consistency problems, and come up with writing prompts tailored to you: set in your world, starring your characters, locations, and items.
Last, but not least: what’s it cost?
Right, that all sounds great and all, but how much does it cost?
It’s very important that everyone with a notebook always has access to all of their ideas for the rest of their life. That means Notebook.ai will be available to anyone after a single, one-time payment of $19.99 — like buying a notebook in real life, except this one never fills up.
To celebrate the launch of Notebook.ai, anyone who signs up for an account during October 2016 with promo code NANOPREP will have their $19.99 completely waived and enjoy a full account — free for life.
After October, new notebooks will cost $19.99 each, but authors on the fence will be able to try out Notebook.ai for free with our free Ethereal plan. Ethereal notebooks can be upgraded at any time, with no loss of ideas.
What is Indent Labs?
Indent Labs is, at its core, a collection of ambitious open-source natural language processing projects aimed squarely at moonshots in the field of writing. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could generate quality stories from outlines, or automatically outline a story? What about generating a story as you make decisions on behalf of a character?
The first word processor showed up in the 60’s and revolutionized writing through technology. Isn’t it time for another shift forward?