PROS / Eighty-four story development worksheets prompt you to write specific scenes.
CONS / This no-frills application has limited organizational features.
VERDICT / Useful software designed to instruct and improve an author's writing.
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.
Ease of Use
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.
Help & Support
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.