Thursday, September 10, 2009

Writer's Blocks (A Software Program, Not a Frame of Mind)

Missy Tippens here. I was just reading suggestions for writing tools on the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) email loop the other day. And someone mentioned Writer's Blocks 3, a program for your computer. I was thrilled to see you can download a 2-week free trial!
I'm a very visual person. When my kids need help with their homework and start rattling off a problem or read me the directions, I always have to stop them and go look at the book or worksheet. I just can't process things audibly. So when I read the description of this program, I knew it would probably be great for me. I went and downloaded the trial. I spent last night reading through the tutorial and trying out the functions. Then I pulled out the first 3 chapters of my wip (work in progress) and tried putting info into the blocks as if I had planned it ahead of time.
What's really cool is that you can visually see your book in chapter columns with scene blocks. At the same time, you can look at a split screen with your manuscript alongside the blocks. Plus, you can import those blocks into the word processor so that you can plan your story in small blocks (seeing it visually), then import it to a document where you can expand each block into a full scene.
Another great feature is that you can color code the blocks. In my trial, I used pink for scenes in my heroine's pov and blue for the hero. I think it would also be helpful to use other colors as well for when a scene is serving another function--ie. to show character's relationship with someone else or to see character growth in another area besides the main romance plot (maybe the spiritual plot thread).
Overall, I think this would be a really great way to plan a story, especially if you're the type who likes to use index cards or sticky notes on poster board. Only with this program, there are no sticky notes to get lost, no cards to juggle!
The only drawback for me is the cost. It's $149. But I'm going to play with it a little more and make a decision about it. At this point, I'm thinking it'll be worth the investment. I think it could save me time in the long run, because I can see my story plotted out on the screen. I also decided as I worked last night that it would force me to examine each scene as I'm planning it to make sure it has a real purpose. Summarizing a scene in one little block can be a good incentive to make sure the scene has a goal and a place in my story.
If you're the type who likes to plan before you write, you might want to give it a try. If so, click here. (And no, I have connection to this company!) :) If you try it, let me know what you think. Also, do any of you have writing software you'd like to recommend?


  1. I haven't attempted to use any writer's software. I'm one of those people who get so discouraged just trying to figure out how to use it that it wouldn't be worth it. Give me Word any day, and time for the creativity to flow, and I'm good.

  2. LOL, Eileen. I have a feeling I wouldn't use nearly all the features in this program. But I kind of like the basics. It's actually the first demo that I've downloaded that I've seriously considered buying. I've tried other story writing software that was way too complicated or useless.

  3. Missy,
    I made a comment yesterday but I guess it didn't take....

    i think this might be good for someone like me who doesn't plot but then has this story that might not be exactly what we thought it was. I wouldn't mind trying this out.