PROS / Detailed questions guide you toward a custom story structure and a superb draft.
CONS / There are few word processing or organizational features.
VERDICT / Excellent tool to flesh out your ideas into a detailed sketch or first draft.
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. Although we rank this our TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award winning writing software, it 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, Contaginist, 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.
Ease of Use
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.
Help & Support
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.