Saturday, August 11, 2007

Handy Writer's Software - StoryBuilder

StoryBuilder software (Windows)
by Seven Valleys Software - $100 US approx.


Every once in a while you come across writing software which looks useful. Typically what’s available is really no different than what can be gleaned out of a text book, but obviously the benefits of a computer program make it an irresistible option for some. Okay. For me.

StoryBuilder is an old-fashioned Windows program (circa Win 3.1 ?), a self-professed CAD program that helps fiction writers turn ideas into stories. As with any other piece of software, it won’t write your story for you - but it will organize your thoughts and notes. The software helps to develop ideas into (from the package) “...a concept with dramatic problems, living characters, vivid settings and a gripping plot.”

The neat thing IMHO is that you can hop, skip and jump anywhere you want to fill-in whatever it is you know (or think you know) about your story. Everything can be changed; nothing is mandatory. If you’re unsure about choices (goal, theme etc) just about everything has a drop-down list of possible choices from which to choose. And if you select something, you can alter it slightly to make it your own.


Especially useful (if you’re into that kinda stuff) is the ability to define your character’s traits... especially the inner ones, which have been adapted from psychological personality profiles (according to the manual). Of course, it is still up to you (the writer) to use those documented traits and turn them into external actions. But as all of this data comes out in one massive report eventually, it is unlikely to be forgotten. This is especially useful if (like me) you’re fond of cobbling together ideas and putting them away for long periods of time... it’s real easy to come back to a working document a year from now and know exactly what it was you had in mind when you first committed words to paper.


Plot points

These are typically scenes you have in mind when thinking about the as-yet undeveloped story. Establishing these early allows you to avoid forgetting them!



These are typically pretty simple in nature, usually confined to one external problem and one internal problem. But it’s up to you. Especially useful is the ability to jump to the TOOLS section and pull forth plotting aids... the “Master plots” is especially useful for turning a problem into a set of typical plot points encountered in literature.


Who all have we got here?

It’s funny how simple things change - how often has your protag and/or antag changed, even though the story itself has not?


How will it end?

I’ve always envied writers who know their endings the exact moment they think of a story. Often I’ll know what has to happen - or what should happen - but not much else. Perhaps that’s why writing is so enjoyable... you don’t know where an idea will lead and what you’ll find out about yourself.



The twenty or thirty page printout will combine everything you’ve compiled so far. It’s as detailed or as sparse as you want it to be.

There are a few useful features to be found under the TOOLS section... stock scenes especially show the writer what has worked before, though it’s probably best not to mimic those exactly, lest everything comes out a little on the cliche side. Also, Polti’s dramatic situations are there to see & ponder (and if any one of those is selected, it pre-fills the plot points for you).


No comments: