Could StoryShop be the cloud-based Scrivener writing software alternative I’ve been waiting for?
I’m playing with StoryShop to write and plot my books and so far: I love what I see.
It’s been a grand total of one day, but it’s one of those “this just feels right” kind of tools.
Up until now, I’ve been writing mostly using:
- Google Docs
- Google Keep (for quick notes when I’m on my Chromebook … that I usually lose and/or forget about)
- Apple Notes (for quick notes … that I usually lose and/or forget about)
It may sound odd that I use WordPress as a writing tool, but when you write (and publish) Every Single Day since Nov. 1, 2012, you had better like the software you’re using. DISCLAIMER: In my past life (a life that was brutally murdered and tossed into a ditch. Yeah, sorry for the graphic.), I used WordPress to build websites for clients as part of my former marketing and design agency. In other words, I’m familiar with (and love) WordPress.
WordPress as Writing Software
WordPress is a relational database. (“Dude, are we talking about writing tools here or databases?” I know, I’m getting there, I swear.) The reason that’s important is that you can link and relate things to other things. For example, I can write a post that’s a book and categorize that book as, for example, nonfiction. But I can also tag that book, I can make a series with that post as part of the series. I can link to it, list it, even show pretty graphics in a collage of my books. Sounds like a good thing for an author, right? Sure does.
Posts as chapters, series as books, links, tags, categories: WordPress works well as a writing tool.
Although I have (rather accidentally) published entire books in WordPress, it’s not necessarily the greatest tool without major customization, for organizing characters, scenes, sections, books, worlds, and scatterings of random notes. Yes, if I got down and dirty, I could make it a better tool for writing. But do you remember that disclaimer above? I don’t want to dig into the code of WordPress, I want to write books. Enough said.
Google Docs as Writing Tool
I love Google Docs. No, really. I no longer have any Microsoft anything anywhere and I haven’t even broken the digital wrapping of any Mac office software. Google Docs does everything I need (although admittedly, I don’t need much) and it’s free.
No version troubles, always online, easily shareable, simple, powerful, done.
But still, there are limitations.
- I’m still not 100% sure I’m doing the whole revision and version control and editing thing quite right. #user-error
- Editors want me to use Word. Yeah, so there’s that. One editor was nice enough to make edits in my Google Docs. That was nice.
- Although I know that I can make a local copy on my local machine, I still haven’t figured that out completely. Again: #user-error for sure. I’m extremely careful with files and backups and security and I still lost an important document that I could not retrieve. Ever. Ouch.
- Big annoyance: Grammarly doesn’t work in Google Docs. Wah.
I have tried to love Scrivener. For me, it falls into a category of tools that I’m “supposed” to love but the spark just never materialized: Evernote, QuickBooks, PayPal, and Scrivener.
Loaded with options and built only for writers, it has everything you need to write.
I watched the videos. I took someone’s (free) multi-part course that explained everything it did. It was impressive. But it’s a little like my mom and buying a new car. She sits in it and says, “Yeah, I just don’t like it.” You can forget any sales pitches about the horsepower, the turning radius or even the gas mileage. It’s not just going to work.
Along comes StoryShop.
Is StoryShop going to steal the show?
I usually would give myself at least a week before I go off and write a post like this about a product I’ve now opened a total of two times. But in those two times using StoryShop I’ve:
- Created 4 worlds and added graphics to match,
- Fleshed out 3 characters complete with photos,
- Made notes about several locations and scenes,
- Wrote a chapter based on the “plot template” of The Hero’s Journey,
- Enjoyed it all.
Remember, I love WordPress and StoryShop is built on WordPress so has many of the benefits of the 10-year old software. The “distraction-free” writing area is even better than WP’s own. Drag and drop chapters is easier to manage than WP’s categories and posts. In other words, they’ve taken out what we writers don’t need in WP and added more than I personally would have thought of.
Maybe the best part?
They’re just getting started.
The guys who built it are serious writers. They’re not doing this for kicks. They want to use it for their own writing. They are writers. They publish tons of books and are doing extremely well at it.
I might add that I’m a card-carrying Pantser who knows that allowing part of my psyche to at least like Plotting will take me further than my stubborn (albeit very creative) Pantser self will ever go. I say this because one thing I’m in need of is structure. Hand-holding, in-your-face structure to help me build my fictional (well, and nonfictional) worlds in a rational manner that will be a better experience for the reader and, yes, I admit it: the writer too.
That’s enough for my first glance. If I crash and burn within my 7-day trial, I’ll come back here and rant. But I don’t think it’s going to happen.
Have a look at StoryShop and let me know what you think.