They say to be a writer, you just have to write. But if you've ever tried to "just write," you know it can be easier said than done. Perhaps you've got a great story to tell and you've already done a slew of research and character development, but you're overrun by the sheer volume of random index cards and sticky notes strewn across your writing area. Writing software can help you organize your notes, fill in the gaps and really pull your story together.

Perhaps you've only got a kernel of an idea, but you know it's a gem. With writing guides for character and story development, software for writers can help you shape your kernel into a story worth telling. And maybe you've just recently caught the writing bug: you want to write, but you're not sure what. Some of the applications also provide random writing prompts which will both jump-start your creativity and circumvent your writer's block. This software won't write your story for you, and it won't edit your writing, but it will help you organize your ideas and develop your storytelling skills.

Our top picks, WriteItNow, Writer's DreamKit and Power Writer, can help you do all this, and more. In our comparison you'll also find reviews of other applications that may meet your needs, as well as articles about writing software, including Get Published: Some Simple Advice. Our aim here is to compare beginner writing products, and most of the novel writing software packages we reviewed are designed to assist budding authors. If you're interested in more complex, professional programs, see our reviews of creative writing software.

Writing Software: What to Look For

The writing process can be an individual and personal one. So, the software that's right for you will depend on what you want to accomplish with it and how you prefer to work. Do you need a structured environment to push you toward your end result, or do you work better with more freedom to explore ideas and make connections? The best applications allow you to do both, but each program is definitely geared toward one end or the other. For example, WriteItNow allows for a high degree of note taking and linking ideas, while Writer's DreamKit provides very structured question-and-answer writing guidance.

The best writing software allows you to write, organize and learn all in one place. For our reviews, we looked at the organizational and word processing features of each software package, as well as the guidance each program gives to aspiring writers, including general writing help and specific character and story development assistance.

Some products have fully functional word processing capabilities, including a spell checker and the ability to format text any way you'd like. Other programs allow you instead to type and brainstorm within the program and then export your writing to a word processor of your choice. Top book writing software gives you the option to see your story organized graphically – such as in a storyboard view or a color-coded timeline. Also look for access to basic writing tools like a dictionary and thesaurus. Features that allow you to keep notes on research and ideas (and then link those notes to your text) help keep you organized and make sure that all your brilliant ideas are easy to retrieve.

Writing Guides
Software for aspiring or beginning writers should include a lot of instruction and assistance. In some programs, this help takes the form of general tips on writing, story structure, character development, dialogue, etc. Other software takes a question-and-answer approach by asking you to respond to specific questions about your story and characters. Some novel writing software will even suggest a detailed story structure based on the answers to your questions or the type (or genre) of story you'd like to write.

Our top products also have extensive character development tools. In addition to random name generators, they include in-depth questions about your characters' attributes and motivations, as well as the ability to assign story roles to each character. Some applications allow you to assign graphics to each character, to give you a visual representation while you're writing. Organizing all that information about your characters in one place helps you keep your characters' actions grounded in who they are – which makes for more believable characters and a story that rings true.

Ease of Use
In addition to helpful features and useful writing guides, your writing software should be relatively simple to use. Navigation should be straightforward and the organizational features should be usable and intuitive. All the fancy features in the world won't matter if you are unable to manage them. Your software should be a tool to help you write; using it should facilitate, not interrupt, your creativity.

Help & Support
Look for help files within the program that teach you how to use it effectively. Additionally, just in case something goes wrong, it's important that the publisher offers contact information. Most provide contact via email, and some include a phone number for customer service or technical support.

The software for writers that we reviewed is aimed at helping beginning writers get organized, as well as develop their story ideas and writing skills. As you compare beginner writing products, you'll find that there's a piece of writing software that will meet your needs. The best writing software for you will depend on how you like to work and the kind of story development help you're seeking. The more organized and thoughtful you are about your storytelling, the more you'll write. And we all know that to be a writer, you have to write.

WriteItNow Review

Everyone has a story to tell, and if you want to tell yours in writing, WriteItNow can help. The melding of structure and flexibility, along with standout features like the ability to link notes to your text and top-notch character development tools, make this application our top choice for writing software.

Flexibility is key when presenting software for writing. The same system will not work for all writers. WriteItNow will fit into almost any writer's work style, and likely even improve her organization. When you begin a new project, you can start wherever you'd like: add a bunch of characters, outline chapters and scenes in the storyboard, make notes about key story events or locations, or simply start typing. When an idea hits, you can open an idea card and make a note. If you'd like, you can even link that note to an event, a character, a place in the text of your story or even another note. This linking capability means you'll never go searching for a scrap of writing again. You can put a reference to it right where you know you'll need it later.

The storyboard view is new to this version of WriteItNow, and it's a great addition to this writing software. Here you get a birds-eye view of your story in chapters and scenes. Drag-and-drop functionality lets you rearrange your story to see how changes might improve it. You can edit the text in the storyboard, and you can even add or delete chapters or scenes. Any change you make on the storyboard will be reflected in the outline view and text of your writing.

In addition to the storyboard, the book writing software boasts a host of other graphic overviews. You can see a timeline of your story's events, a story conflict graph and a visual representation of the relationships between all your characters.

You'll find access to great writer tools like a dictionary, a thesaurus, a quote database and a rhyming dictionary. There are also tools to check your spelling and the readability of your writing. This novel writing software even provides a spot for aspiring book writers to keep track of submissions and publisher information.

The writing guides provided by this writing software hover just between the extremes of "very specific to your story" and "too general to be useful." They are just right. Ideas like "Read for words that seem out of place" and "Make sure you have a gripping first page" are simple but provide sound advice. All of the writing instruction and questions are found in the Prompt Sets tool. Opening Prompt Sets gives you a menu of options to choose from. Do you want suggestions on building a mystery story, developing characters' physical descriptions, building events, creating scary scene, building Act 2 or something else? These prompt sets mix writing instruction with questions to get you thinking about your own story. They even throw in ideas and instructions on using the program as you build your writing. When the prompt asks a question (like "What does your character always carry in her purse?"), there is a space for you to answer. What you type there can then be transferred to the main body of your project.

We consider the character development tools to be one of the "wow" features of this writing software. For each character you add to your story, there are tabs for you to create a description, add personality traits from a list of several dozen, specify family and other relationships, and import a picture so you can have a graphic representation of your concept of the character while you write.

In the event that you don't already have a character completely formed in your head, this book writing software is the one for you. Not only is there a name generator (which by itself is pretty amazing) and prompt questions about your characters, there is a cornucopia of other information to help you create believable and realistic characters. Start with the name generator, where you can specify nationality and gender. Some of our favorite randomly generated names were Jack Thomas O'Brien (Irish), Rory Cuddy Gainnes (Scottish), Danto Ricardo Marncini (Italian) and Jeffery Newton Elder (American).

Once you have a name, move on to the Generate a Character feature. Here you'll first choose a personality type either from archetypal characters (mentor, hero, herald, trickster, etc.) or from the Myers-Briggs personality types (INFP, ENFJ, etc.). This generates a brief character description and a well-known example of this personality type. You can also add details about age and stature. The last element in this character generation is the timeline. You specify general time period and the year of your character's birth, and the program will pull up a list of significant historical events from your character's lifetime. Check the ones you want to include in your story, and those events will show up in the summary of your brand new, well-developed character.

You might also use the character generator to create a random character to write about. Such an exercise is helpful in overcoming writer's block, generating new ideas or just practicing your writing skills.

WriteItNow also provides tools to help set writing goals. Input the amount of time you want to write or the number of words you want to write in a given writing session, and the writing software will tell you when you've met your writing goals.

Although the features of WriteItNow are complex, we found this was one of the most easy-to-use novel writing software applications we reviewed. This is mostly due to an interface that is uncluttered and makes excellent use graphics and text in an intuitive layout. While the navigation bar on the left side of the workspace functions like many other products, the larger text and colorful graphics make it much easier to quickly identify the exact piece of information you want to find. In addition to the navigation bar, corresponding tabs are found at the top of the workspace, and drop-down menus offer another avenue to navigate to the same places. Additionally, you can create links within a project. Link an idea note to the place in your story you want to use it later; link a research note to the profile of a character; link an idea note to an external website you want to visit for research later. Considering the wealth of information and the complexity of the possible interactions, this program is surprisingly easy to use. Given a little time to master all the features, any writer can use this application easily in his overall work style.

The website has FAQs and video tutorials that show how this novel writing software works. Additionally, there is an extensive help section in the program that instructs you how to use it. The publisher, Ravenshead Services, is based in Scotland. They have a form on their website through which you can contact them, but there is no phone number for support.

A relatively easy-to-use interface and flexible features make this ideal book writing software for a writer just getting started. If you've already got an organizational style that works well for you, you can make this program mimic it. However, if you're still working on getting organized, the tools in this software for writing will give you a fantastic starting point. Additionally, you'll find a wealth of writing tips, thought-provoking questions to flesh out your own story, and a robust character development tool. Once you have a story to tell, WriteItNow is the writing software with everything you need to get serious about writing it.

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Writer's DreamKit Review

Writer's DreamKit, by Write Brother's, Inc., is billed as the "beginner" version of the creative writing software application Dramatica Pro. It is, in fact, less complex than its bigger brother, and is therefore well-suited for beginning writers or for less complex plots. This writing software is not designed to help you organize your writing, necessarily. For that reason, it lacks some of the great organizational features of our top software for writing, WriteItNow. However, this program excels at guiding you through developing your story ideas. After working through the exercises and questions in this book writing software, your end result will be a very detailed sketch or rough draft of a story – your story – with skillfully developed characters, themes and plot points.

Writer's DreamKit may not have all the word processing and organizational tools of other software for writing, but that is not the goal of this particular application. It is primarily a question-based story development tool. However, there is always a space to type, so you won't have to flip back and forth to a word processor while you're working through the questions. When you've finished the process, you can print what you've written or export it to a word processor. You can print or export the instructions and questions from the novel writing software, as well. There is also a name generator and access to a basic dictionary.

Where Writer's DreamKit excels is in its writing guides – questions and instructions to help you flesh out the barest of ideas into a well-thought-out plot packed with dynamic characters and fully realized themes. The instructions and questions are based on the Dramatica Theory of Story Structure, and the application does a good job of teaching this theory and reinforcing it as you go.

Writer's DreamKit takes you through a list of roughly 40 questions about your story – asking about characters, roles, motivations, story elements, etc. Every answer shapes the outcome, as questions build on one another. For example, your answer about a character's motivation will affect the subsequent questions the software asks about that character. It is through your answers to these questions that the software generates a final story structure outline for you to follow. Some questions ask you to write about a character or event, and some just ask you to pick from a list of options. However, at every step there is room for you to write if an idea hits.

You'll start with Storyforming, in which you'll make basic decisions that will affect the eventual form your story will take. The writing software suggests completing this step several times until you get the best form for your story. Moving on to Illustrating, you'll flesh out those basic ideas and characters by working out specific ideas and examples for your characters and plot. And finally in StoryWeaving, you'll figure out the best way to tell the story you've formed. Armed with a story structure of plot points and scenes suggested by the novel writing software, you'll be able to start sketching out specific scenes and working out the sequence of events.

For every question you're asked, the software provides information about how the question fits into your story and into the overall theory of storytelling. As you work through a question, you can view an explanation of what the question is really asking, so your well-considered answers will make your story that much better in the end. You are also able to see information on how that particular question fits into the Dramatica theory. And you can view ideas of how the answer to that question might fit into your whole story.

This book writing software boasts decent character development tools, as well. When you add a character to your story, you have the option of specifying the character's gender and role, as well as assigning a character type, such as Protagonist, Skeptic, Guardian, Contagonist, etc. These character types are explained in the program's instructions as well as in the dictionary of terms. There is also a database of clipart images, allowing you to choose a graphic to represent your character. When you use a story template, some of these characters and traits are automatically populated.

Another area where this writing software shines is in the extensive story reports. Based on your answers about your story and your characters, the application puts together several reports for you to print out and use while you're writing. The most basic reports allow you to print out the detailed questions and everything you've written in response. Other reports include character details, plot keys to remember, suggestions on how your specific characters should interact, how your chosen themes work together, etc. These reports are based on your answers to the story development questions. If you print out all the available reports and refer to them, you'll be sure you're taking everything into account as you continue to write and hone your draft.

The interface of Writer's DreamKit is not necessarily slick, but it is functional and presents no difficulty in using it. Navigation tools on the left side of the screen allow you to work through the questions sequentially using the "Next" button; or you can jump to a different question or section using the tree menu. On each screen there is a place to type ideas and explore answers to the questions being presented. Additionally, many screens show you what you've already written in answer to related questions, so you can refer to your previous thoughts.

The writing guides do use a lot of jargon – terms and ideas specific to the Dramatica Theory of Story Structure. It's important that you carefully read the initial instructions about the theory so that you understand what each question is asking. The ideas are not particularly difficult, and the software does a fine job of explaining, but don't expect to dive into question number one without some background information about the theory behind this novel writing software.

The in-program help files are functional and useful. The website also has a searchable knowledge base of answers to common technical support questions. There is also an email form and a phone number to contact technical support, should you need assistance with this book writing software.

Writer's DreamKit is not an all-in-one piece of novel writing software. Instead, it is a detailed story development tool. What it lacks in organizational features, it more than makes up for in the extensive and customized way this software for writing guides you to flesh out even the most basic kernel of an idea into a full-fledged, workable draft.

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Power Writer Review

Power Writer, a writing software application by Write-Brain, has quite a lot going for it as a writing tool for beginner or intermediate authors. Its organizational features are not as extensive as WriteItNow, and its story development tools can't touch those of Writer's DreamKit, but it is precisely this simplicity that may make it a good choice of book writing software for a new writer who has a story to tell.

Power Writer is set up a lot like the most popular word processing programs. You can easily format text, and you'll find most of the same settings and available preferences. In fact, if you hide the other panes in the layout (which is accomplished by a simple mouse click), you'll have a writing space that feels much like any other word processor.

The other panes house the organizational and story tools that make this writing software more than just a place to type. The tree menu on the left functions as an outline; here you'll add new chapters and plot points. With Power Writer, you can divide your writing almost any way you'd like, and keep scenes separate from one another. These chunks of text can be rearranged on the tree menu outline simply by dragging and dropping a plot point to another location. This change will also then be reflected in the text.

Additionally, when you create a new plot point you can assign it to one of six categories. Each category is color coded and the plot point is highlighted in its color on the outline. In this way, you can see at a glance a colored representation of your story elements and quickly tell whether you've got too much comic relief, not enough exposition or a surplus of subplot.

One of the standout features of this software for writing is the notes tool. This feature allows you to embed notes directly into the text for easy reference. Or you may keep research or idea notes that are not tied to any particular spot in your story. Plus, these notes are searchable. If you know you wrote a research note about hat design in the 1850s, there's no need to scroll through all the notes you wrote – simply search for text in that note, and voila! You'll quickly be able to find any scrap of an idea you recorded in a note.

Power Writer's writing guides are much more basic and less comprehensive than our other top products. However, if you've got a good idea that's already pretty well thought out, this writing software can help you add some teeth to your thoughts and keep it all organized in one place. If you take the time to work through the questions thoughtfully, you'll end up with a pretty decent story outline and some interesting characters.

The pane at the bottom of the screen is where all the story tools are housed. Here you can brainstorm and record information about your general story, plot points, chapters, acts and characters. There's also a place to record and store other notes and research you want to keep on hand.

In each section, the software provides a handful of questions to spur your creative juices – basic questions like "How does this act move the story forward and thrust the reader into the next act or final climax?" and "What is this chapter's ticking clock – the thing (or things) that drive the story forward and keep the characters from just walking away." You can also add a checklist of things that must be accomplished in each act, chapter or plot point. This way you can check off each item when it's completed and make sure that you have included everything you wanted to include in each writing section.

The story tools for character development are a little more extensive. For each character there are about 20 questions that get at who that character is and how he or she fits into your story. Questions range from the general ("How would this character describe him or herself?") to the detailed ("What has been this character's biggest trauma in his/her life, and how does it affect who he/she is today?") to the specific ("What is revealed about this character by the events/actions of this plot point?"). You can also assign each character a role and a character type in your story.

Because this writing software functions so similarly to the most common word processing applications, it's almost instantly usable if you're familiar with word processors. The only area a writer has to master is the organizational tools, and they are rather straightforward. The interface, for the most part, is clean and uncluttered. The tree menu on the left allows you to navigate to any part of your story quickly, and tools like the bookmark feature help you log significant places in your text and return to them easily. Because the organizational tools are basic, the writing prompts are few, and the word processing features are familiar to most computer users, this application is one of the more easy-to-use pieces of novel writing software we reviewed.

Help files in the program are plentiful and useful. They will guide you step-by-step through using the features of the book writing software. Additionally, there is an address for technical support on the Write-Brain website.

The familiar feel of a word processor combined with simple organizational and writing tools make Power Writer stand out among its peers. While it offers fewer tools than our other top software for writing, it’s this blend of simplicity and functionality that make it one of the best pieces of writing software out there.

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Writer's Café 2 Review

Much like our top product, WriteItNow, Writer's Café by Anthemion Software is an all-in-one piece of novel writing software. Here you'll find a large amount of writing features, including writing prompts and tips, a storyboard view, a journal and a pin board that lets you write and organize notes. The software is based on one particular organizational model for writers – the 3x5 card writer. If you're a writer who drafts everything – characters, scenes, snippets of dialogue, story structure – in bite-size chunks on scraps of paper, then you'll find this software comfortable and useful. And the software is flexible enough to accommodate other styles. However, a new writer still finding his best work style may find this feature-rich book writing software to be a bit too complicated.

This writing software has extensive organizational features for book writers, and much of it centers on adding cards – small areas of brainstorming or outlining that you can then reorganize and expand upon. The outline view and story board view are connected; if you move or add a card in either area, the change will be reflected in the other. The story board is organized by character, but you can also view the whole story line at once. For each card you add, you can create both a small summary (for the story board) and more extensive content. While there is no limit to the content on each card, you will only see a card-shaped section and have to scroll to view the rest. It is possible, however, to print or export everything you've written.

In the main outline window, tabs allow you to quickly navigate to details about your overall story, characters or locations. You can also add tags to various cards in order to group them together and make them searchable.

There are also multiple ways this application provides for keeping track of research and ideas. You'll find a pin board where you can write note and add graphics, as well as a scrapbook where you can upload photos and make notes. Like the journal and the notebook, these two features seem to overlap in function. However, this overlap gives Writer's Café the flexibility to be used and adapted by writers with range of research and work styles.

Our favorite writing guide feature in this novel writing software is the random writing prompts. Based on the very true idea that to be a writer one must write every day, the application offers a place and a means to make that happen. Even if you're stuck on your own story, or if you have nothing as yet to write about, one click and you can be set to work on a randomly generated problem or character. You may find yourself writing about Mohammed Beene who wants to escape from prison and has a demanding boss; about Malory Decosta who is somehow involved in a collapsing house; or about topics as simple as crossing a river or a childhood home. Write in the notebook or journal. Set the time or word count goals, and start writing. You'll find your creativity flowing within just a few sentences.

This writing software also includes quite a wealth of writing tips called "recipes." Recipes with titles such as, "How to motivate your characters," "How to make the ending work" and "How to not panic" all offer sound advice for both the writer and her writing.

Most of the features in Writer's Café are simple enough in theory, but we found that using some of them was just over the "easy" line and approaching the "too complicated" line. The story board and card system is useful, but for our reviewers who weren't used to organizing their writing in that way, the features actually got in the way. Additionally, the pin board and scrapbook sections were functional, and useful for organizing information, but adding the notes and graphics and other research or ideas proved cumbersome at times. The program is not difficult to use, but it's not as intuitive as some other programs.

There is a wealth of in-program help available through searchable help files that aptly describe how to use this book writing software's features. Additionally, the website offers FAQs and an email address to contact for technical support.

Writer's Café is good writing software, with enough flexibility to be functional, and enough structure to be valuable. The writing prompts and tips, as well as the journal feature, really encourage writers to write every day. However, if the structure and organization of the book writing software vary too much from your own preferred work style, you may find it cumbersome to use. For this reason, we'd recommend that new writers who are still figuring out their preferred organizational method check out our top product, WriteItNow.

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StoryWeaver Review

Storymind's StoryWeaver was developed by the co-creator of the creative writing software Dramatica Pro, and it is similar in style and function to Writer's DreamKit. All three of these applications are based on the Dramatica Theory of Story Structure. Whereas the other two applications work more with the underlying structure of your story, StoryWeaver centers on inspiration and idea development. If you work through all the questions – called story cards – in this novel writing software, you'll end up with a detailed story outline that is ready to be fleshed out into something great.

Because StoryWeaver is more focused on developing your ideas into a rounded-out story, there are fewer organizational features than in other pieces of book writing software. There is always a pane for typing your thoughts and answers to the story card questions. You can add your own folder and notes, and even rearrange your story items by dragging and dropping them in the menu pane. Additionally, the tree menu on the left lets you navigate to any story card. Once you've completed all the story cards and are happy with the results, everything you've written can be printed or exported to a word processor.

The software comes with some bonus materials that vary in usefulness. Through the Storymind website, you'll get access to video lectures and articles on writing, as well as access to the Dramatica Story Structure Encyclopedia. You'll also find links to download some simple tools, such as a name generator and a sticky notes application.

This application is almost all writing guide. It takes you through a four-step process to develop your ideas. The first is Inspiration. Here you'll generate ideas about your story's plot, characters, theme and genre. Second, in the Development step, you'll flesh out those ideas until you have the basics of your story well in hand. Next you'll work on Exposition, making decisions about story points and the best way to reveal your tale to your reader. And finally, with Storytelling you will develop a plan for the sequence of your work which will become a detailed outline for your story.

As you work your way through the story cards, you'll find that the questions build on each other, as well as on what you've previously written. For most questions, the software inserts a reference box between the story card and the writing pane. This box contains answers you've written for previous related questions. For example, if you're being asked to revise your synopsis based on new character information, you will see your previous answers to character development questions in the reference box.

This writing software is not fancy or showy, but it is very straightforward and simple to use. Each section starts with some basic instructions and information, and then you dive right into the story cards. Navigation between story cards and to your own notes is easy with the tree menu on the left side of the page. Additionally, all the panes are resizable, so you can make the instruction pane bigger in order to read longer story cards, or you may increase the writing space to create an even larger creative area.

In-program help files and instructions guide you through both the technical and creative aspects of this book writing software. If you run into technical trouble with the software, there is a list of FAQs on the Storymind website, along with an email address for contacting customer service.

If you're ready to round out a simple idea, or even need some help coming up with one of your own, StoryWeaver might be just what you're looking for. However, if you're looking for features to help you organize all your writing and ideas, you might be better off with a more all-in-one piece of novel writing software. This writing software focuses on idea and story development, and helps you move your idea from being just a small spark of a thought to a fully developed, detailed outline of a potentially great story. As the program's introduction states, "Now you have a good story to tell, and the rest is up to you."

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Master Storyteller Review

Master Storyteller looks a lot like its sister product, StoryWeaver. Both are created by Storymind, and both are based on the same writing theory – the Dramatica Theory of Story Structure – that forms the basis of other software like Dramatica Pro and Writer's DreamKit. However, Master Storyteller has a slightly different focus than the others. This writing software is more focused on instruction and exercises than in crafting a single storyline from start to finish. Surely, a writer could easily use this book writing software to flesh out a story idea; however, the writing prompts are more general than the extensive and customized questions found in related software.

Because the main aim of this application is instruction and writing improvement, there are fewer organizational features here than in other writing software packages. The screen is split into three panes: a tree menu for navigation, the story cards (instruction and exercises on writing), and a blank area for typing ideas or responses to the instruction. You can also add folders and notes to the tree menu; this allows you to keep track of story ideas or thoughts that may not necessarily have to do with specific story cards or writing exercises. A Print function allows you to either print what you've written or export it to a word processor.

The writing guides fit into three categories: Storytelling Techniques, Story Structuring and Story Development Worksheets. Each category contains story cards with instruction and writing prompts. Taken together, they provide a wealth of information and practice for aspiring writers.

Each card under Storytelling Techniques focuses on a particular skill involving writing techniques for storytelling, plot, character, theme and genre. Most of these cards conclude with practice exercises under the heading "Become a Master Storyteller." The Story Structuring category is more instruction-heavy and contains fewer writing exercises. You'll find a lot of theory and examples, and even specific suggesting for implementing the ideas in your writing. But there are few direct questions or exercises in this book writing software that require you to write extensively about your own story.

The heavy writing comes in the next category: Story Development Worksheets. Here you'll find one-line prompts for writing 84 "magic" scenes – 28 character scenes, 28 plot scenes and 28 theme scenes. While the prompts are general, if you approach them after working through exercises and instruction in the rest of the program, you'll have some great ideas to fill in these scenes. In the end, with 84 scenes, you'll have a very workable draft of your story.

This software for writing is functional and using it is straight forward. There aren't a lot of bells or whistles to get in the way. The tree menu on the left makes it easy to navigate to any part of the program. Additionally, the display panes are resizable. This comes in handy when you want to increase either the instruction area or the writing area, depending on the particular task you're working on.

The in-program help files are useful and guide you through the technical use of the program. On the Storymind website there is a list of FAQs and an email address for contacting customer service.

After working through the instruction and practicing storytelling techniques available in Master Storyteller, you'll have the tools necessary to write specific scenes or sequences to fill in the details of your story. By using this software for writing, you'll end up with a very decent draft to work with. Because the focus of this writing software is to help writers improve their technique, this is a good choice for a beginning writer who wants to master storytelling.

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StoryCraft Review

StoryCraft is based on the Jarvis Method of creative writing, and John Jarvis was involved in the development of the original version of this writing software. Part of the basic idea is that there are story forms that are part of our human psyche. Think Joseph Campbell, Richard Wagner, mythological archetypes, etc. The best stories, according to the Jarvis Method, involve not only plot, character and structure, but also the "Five Elements of Story Crafting" – namely category, concept, plot type, components and story creation. Being aware of these story forms will help writers create the best possible tales.

The organizational features of StoryCraft are disappointing, mainly because there are none. Some of the information on the website mentions organizing tools as well as printing and exporting capabilities. We can only assume that these details refer to an earlier version of this software for writing.

The purpose of this software is instructional. Additionally, the developers have stated that they want to leave the choice of word processor up to the individual writer. However, we found it cumbersome to toggle back and forth between the writing software and Word, and we missed the all-in-one functionality of our best-ranked product, WriteItNow.

This book writing software does offer access to an online library of links to articles about writing, scripts, and full texts of literature. Throughout the program you'll also find links to extended instruction on various topics like "Rules of Dialogue" and "How to Avoid Melodramatic Characters."

While the writing instruction is not nearly as customized to your own story as in Writers DreamKit, StoryCraft offers three different story paths to explore. Do you want to write an action-based story? A character-based story? A story based on classic myth structure? The instruction and guidance you receive will change depending on which story type you choose.

This software functions like a course in writing. There are directions, suggestions and very pertinent examples along the way, but you're on your own when it comes to implementing them and organizing your own writing.

This software for writing offers guidance in six different viewing panes on a series of HTML pages (so it can be viewed in your internet browser). The all-at-once organization is useful for getting a big picture, but the frames are never large enough. To see all the instruction, you have to scroll, and scroll, and scroll. The frames around these panes can be resized, so you can increase the size of the one you want to focus on. You can also choose to view each pane on a separate page. But still, the volume of information sometimes feels a little overwhelming. A simpler organization might alleviate that feeling.

The help and support features on the product's website were well hidden. After some clicking, we found a page of a few FAQs and an email address. A few more clicks and we came to these very important instructions: "When you send the email, write the exact phrase 'software questions' in the subject line (otherwise, the email will automatically be directed to the spam/trash bin.)" Luckily, the fact that the software runs through an internet browser means that you're unlikely to run into any compatibility or other technical issues requiring technical support. In fact, compatibility issues with newer software platforms is precisely the reason this version of StoryCraft is created as a series of HTML pages.

There is an email address for customer service, which is easily accessible. And in our communication with them we found them to be quite responsive.

StoryCraft offers comprehensive writing instruction that you can view from any web browser. The writing guidance is in-depth and useful, though at times overwhelming. Any serious writer would likely find something to learn from this book writing software; however, the total lack of any word processing or organizational features makes it feel a little incomplete as a piece of writing software.

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