Story Structuring Software

Now that I’ve hired a professional editor to help me with The Left Hand of Light (thanks, Larry Edwards!) I need to go hands-off for awhile while he works his editorial magic. (“Version control,” he says, “is critical.”)

That gives me some time to consider my next novel. For this new work, I want to really focus on structure, which I was taught is important to any good story, but has been really difficult for me to understand and appreciate until after I went through the laborious process of actually writing a long piece.

To this end, I am researching various software apps to help with story structure. I’ve been downloading and testing several apps all day. Contour looks clean and simple, but uses only a single structure based on a simplified model for screenplays. Price isn’t bad though. Save the Cat! has some interesting features but feels a bit clunky on the screen. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it feels like a toy. Dramatica Pro is probably the most in-depth structuring app of the lot and the word is that it has a steep learning curve. It has a clunky old-looking interface, but contains enough information about story structure that its almost like a creative writing class all by itself! Tempting, but also the most expensive of the bunch. Finally, there’s Power Structure, which has all the features of Contour, plus a few more structures (including plays, novels and TV screenplays.) Its list price is outrageous, but Amazon offers up to 75% off which brings it roughly to the price of Contour. It offers some helpful hints like Dramatica Pro, but with less theory. Easier to use, but less education built in.

I’m still undecided. I’ll post here as I make some choices, which will be VERY soon. I don’t like to dawdle. If anyone has used any of these products, I’d love to hear your experiences. Amazon reviewers are hit-and-miss.

Let’s make art!

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