Since we’re moving into gift-giving time, here’s an interesting software tool for the fiction writers and screenwriters in your life. During my recent trip to Albequerque, my friend and fellow writer, Deb Whitaker, demonstrated the value of a writing software program she discovered called Writer’s Cafe (http://www.writerscafe.co.uk/). She finds the Storylines tool most useful, although the Writer’s Cafe Desk has some nifty tools to help develop a short story, novel or screenplay. In addition to the Storylines tool, there’s a notebook, journal, research organizer, inspirational quotes, writing exercises, and a 60-page e-book, “Fiction: The Facts.”
If you’ve been around writers for any length of time or have spent time reading the how-to books, sooner or later you will have stumbled upon the storyboard method that uses index cards for structuring stories. This a useful tool but one that can take up quite a bit of wall space and it’s not particularly transportable. With Storylines you can experience the same impact of seeing your story’s overall structure visually except now the entire storyboard is displayed on your computer screen. Not only is it portable, but it eliminates the need for mountains of notes on scraps of paper alongside piles of index cards and still manages to offer the benefits of the traditional storyboard application. The more complicated the work, the more Storylines helps. It’s easy to see simultaneous events and track the most complex of subplots while allowing the overall structure to be manipulated in order to provide the most dramatic storytelling.
If you’re starting to think this computer age index-on-corkboard software tool might be something you’d like to use, you’ll be delighted to know you can download a demo and index the night away. I’ve started to play around with mine and already know that I’m going to want the full program to map out all of my novel’s ins and outs. So far I like the Storyboard tool. Why not download the demo and see for yourself, then come back and let me know what you think. (Note to screenwriters: this program is particularly helpful to you.)
As far as price, I think $50 is fair and certainly less expensive than many other software programs for writers. I think you’ll be surprised at all the features in this software.
So, power down for the weekend and power up for a storyboarding weekend.
(Note: 12/04/04 Mark mentioned that the link to Writer’s Cafe didn’t work so I’ve adjusted the entry. I checked it and it worked for me. Please let me know if there are still problems.)