In a recent post I talked about two excellent pieces of software for writers, StoryCraft Pro and WriteItNow. They fit together perfectly and make writing great fiction very easy indeed. A number of you have asked how these two programs can be used together. So here’s how I do it:
I start off in WriteItNow, which looks after the characters, locations, key events, notes and jottings, and so on. The Timeline is fantastic. I also use it to automatically generate some of the minor characters. I tend to have the major characters in mind already, and I use our own ideas4writers Writing Engines to help flesh them out and make some decisions about which way certain events should go. Then I enter all the details into WriteItNow to keep everything in one place, and I can easily drop the characters into scenes and see them on the Timeline.
Then with the basic story idea and characters in mind, I load StoryCraft Pro, decide what sort of story it is, and fill in the blanks (the online tutor guides you through this process and gives you prompts if you get stuck, though I tend not to use this). It turns my basic story idea into a mighty epic, fixes any problems with the structure, suggests new scenes that will enhance the story, and creates a complete outline which I export into Word. I also add any new scenes to WriteItNow.
After that I keep WriteItNow running in the background and write the whole thing in Word (out of habit I guess – you can write the whole thing in WriteItNow if you want to as it has a built-in word processor, but I prefer not to). It’s then just a simple matter of expanding the outline. I mark each scene as “completed” in WriteItNow as I finish it, so I can keep track of progress. This method also allows me to write the scenes in any order – which I do!
With the two programs combined (3 if you count Word, though as I said you don’t really need it) it’s very (very!) fast, very easy, and works like a dream.
I’m often also asked my opinion of a piece of software called NewNovelist. I don’t like it. It lacks the depth of StoryCraft Pro. The first version was also unstable, prone to crashes and losing work. Version 2 is out now, and I hope it corrects that problem. But as far as I’m aware (I’ve read the blurb but not tried it) it still doesn’t have the depth required for professional writing.
The word “new” in the title is the one you ought to pay most attention to – after you’ve written your first novel you’ll be looking for something better. (That’s StoryCraft Pro by the way!) I don’t honestly think that any novel solely written using NewNovelist would ever be published, because of the aforementioned lack of depth. I’m happy to stand corrected on that point if anyone knows otherwise. StoryCraft Pro, on the other hand, can be used time after time, even by advanced writers, and is perfectly capable of producing publishable work.
(I have no connection with either StoryCraft Pro or WriteItNow and do not receive any reward for promoting them – I’m just a happy user!)
EDITED 11 FEB 2008: PLEASE SEE MY COMMENT ATTACHED TO THIS POST. STORYCRAFT PRO HAS BEEN ‘UPGRADED’ AND I NO LONGER RECOMMEND IT.