Review of StoryCraft
StoryCraft and Write A Best Seller (New Novelist)
When I began my journey into the fiction-writing world, I often heard other writers discussing Joseph Campbell and his work, The Hero's Journey. That led to a book by Christopher Vogler called The Writers Journey. In this book Vogler outlined the twelve steps that both he and Campbell felt had to be included in a story for it to be successful. I agree with them in theory, but I also think there is more than one way to tell a story.
Several software programs have taken this theory to heart and have fashioned programs that allow no deviation from the steps of the Hero's Journey.
StoryCraft or StoryCraft Pro as it is now called, was the first to offer a computer program for writers based on this concept. It was also the first pricey software that I purchased, retailing at the time for sixty-nine dollars plus shipping.
When you first open StoryCraft you are given the options of working on something New, Open a file, Open Last Project, Close (exit), About, and Help. There is also an overview of StoryCraft and John Jarvis, the screenwriter/writer who has put his name on this software.
Clicking on New will open a new window called Stage 1/Element 1: The Story Concept. Before you can advance any further you must enter a concept, known also as theme, logline or premise, before you can advance to the next screen. In other words, you best have an idea of what your story is going to be about.
The next screen asks you to decide if your story is going to be Plot driven, Character driven or an Epic. There are several sub-categories of each that you will have to choose from on the next screen. An example would be if you chose a Character driven story, you would then choose whether it is an 'Internal Transformation' or 'Coming of Age' story.
Your next screen then takes you to the heart of the program where you begin filling information about your story. The first step is 'describing the ordinary world'. You will have several preliminary steps to fill in before you begin writing your story. Once those are complete, the software leads you down the path of the Hero's Journey.
Each step of the way has a tutorial screen above the text processing box explaining the hows and whys of what you need to create.
By the time you have written each stage of your journey you should have a complete novel (or screenplay) ready to import into your word processor to revise, format and print.
Since I first purchased StoryCraft, an upgrade has been made. Have I purchased the upgrade? No, and I am not likely to either for two reasons. I found StoryCraft too limiting in scope. According to this software, there is only one way to tell a story. While it may serve the purposes of a beginning writer, once you advance through the steps, you will find that there are better programs available.
The second reason I will not upgrade is support for this product is abysmal. While the main website page has always stayed the same - other pages seem to come and go at the whim of the powers that be. Purchasing an upgrade would be like buying the program all over again, as there is no real upgrade discount.
If you think this sort of structured writing software is for you, then I would have to recommend New Novelist. They do seem to have better tech support. At fifty-five dollars, it is basically the same software as StoryCraft. This program can also be found on eBay and other discount houses under the name of 'Write a Best Seller'. I purchased my copy new for less than ten dollars. It was only after I installed the program that I discovered that 'New Novelist' and 'Write a Best Seller' were the same program.
More than that, I saw that this was just StoryCraft all over again. I was glad I had not paid full price. It also made me wonder about New Novelist's developer and publisher. Since nowhere does either program mention the other, could this double marketing be a way for them to prey upon writers? Are they hoping that unsuspecting writers will buy both programs? I don't know the answer to that one, but I think writers can do better than any one of the three software products.
Easy for beginners
Support is abysmal
Too limiting for advanced writers
StoryCraft is a bit too limiting in scope. According to this software, there is only one way to tell a story. While it may serve the purposes of a beginning writer, once you advance through the steps, you will find that there are better programs available. If you are looking for a sophisticated grammar and spell checker, go for WhiteSmoke.