internet, NaNo, nanowrimo, review, software, storyist, writing

Storyist Review

I don’t normally get very technical on this blog. Mainly because when it comes to technology and electronics, I’m proably the last person you want to ask for advice (we’ve all seen my repeated mechanical failures). That being said, however, I did want to share a fun piece of kit that I picked up for NaNoWriMo.

Storyist is a Mac-only word processing program. They’re running a free trial for NaNo participants, and are offering a discount towards the purchase of the software, too.

Storyist is different from other word processors I’ve tried in that it doesn’t just create a document, it creates a notebook. All of your notes–outlines, character profiles, world building information, even pictures and reference material–are all in the same file, and conveniently organized on the sidebar. There’s even a split-screen option, so you can have your manuscript open at the top, bottom, or side of the page, and your notes on the other. No more flipping back and forth between different windows or programs, because it’s all right there. There’s even a drop down menu so you can skip to different chapters or scenes within a document. It makes it really easy to go back and check your timeline, without losing your place, particularly since there is a “bookmark” option.

If you hit the inspector button, you’ll find a target-tracking tool, which will let you track your total word count, your word count or time per session, and set goals for yourself (like 1,667 words per day, with a chime of your choice to sound when you reach your goal. There are also a few preferences that you can change under that tab, but the real bonus about this program is that it’s simple. It’s just for writing. No fancy fonts, no colors or margins or other things to deal with. Just writing, plain and simple.

Manuscripts are automatically formatted to “industry standard”–looking at it, I think that their version of industry standard MIGHT be a little outdated, but don’t quote me on it. Either way, I like the 12 pt double spaced courier font. Page numbers, titles, and author’s name are automatically put in the header, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to put your name on things. Storyist also exports into .doc, .txt, and .pdf formats, so you have plenty of options for sharing and additional formating/extras if you so desire, and you can chose to export everything, or just part–just your notes, just the character profiles, or just the manuscript. Your choice. According to the site, it also “works seamlessly with the Cloud” but I have not tried this yet.

There are just a couple of things that I don’t like about it: While it’s designed for Mac, .pages is not an option for exporting, even though that is the Mac word processor. If you decided that you don’t like 12 pt courier double spaced, you don’t get a lot of options for alternatives, if any. The formatting is pretty concrete, and you’d have to export it into Word to change it. This can make things difficult, if, say, you have an excerpt from a letter, or you want to add images into your manuscript.

It was not designed for writers of nonfiction. If you’re going to include images, citations, quotes, or other fancy stuff, stick to Word or Pages and save yourself the headache. A little tweaking to some of the chapter outline templates, and it might be a good place to store research, however. But if you write fiction, screenplays, or scripts, then this is software designed with you in mind.

The general layout of the program is very similar to Pages, so it’s an easy transition for anyone used to that program (and Pages, in turn, is relatively easy to use if you know Word). Overall, I found this to be a very streamlined program, free of distractions and hassles. It does what it says on the tin, and it does it well.

As I said, they are running a promo right now. The free demo expires on Dec. 12, so if you want to try it out now is the time. In addition, they are offering 25% off with the NaNo promo code through Dec. 14.

I have every intention of downloading the full version at the end of November (provided moving doesn’t destroy my pocketbook). So, if you’re looking for a new way to organize your thoughts, this might be a good option.