Monday, September 14, 2020

Story Planning Software: Plottr

  Missy Tippens

 

Do you like to visually plan your stories--mind maps, poster boards, sticky notes, charts, Scrivener cork board, notecards, and/or timelines? If so, I’ve discovered a great new app I wanted to share with you today!


 

Plottr. It helps you create visual timelines that can assist you in generating your outline/synopsis.

 

I bought the program back in May and feel as if I’ve barely put a dent in all I’ll be able to do with it. Plus, as they get feedback from authors, they’re releasing new features constantly. I’ll just share a few of the features I’ve been using and really like.

 

One of my favorite things is being able to use a template. I have a hard time seeing the big picture in a story, so this really helps me keep on target. They offer many templates, some of which you’ve already heard of or used. Just a few examples are The Hero’s Journey (Joseph Campbell), Romancing the Beat (Gwen Hayes), 12 Chapter Mystery, The W Plot, and Story Circle (Dan Harmon). I played around with two or three and finally settled on using Romancing the Beat. I love it!

 

What’s great is that you can fill in each beat as is, or you can move things around to suit your story. Everything can be dragged and dropped. You can have multiple plot lines. You can have multiple views (vertical or horizontal). You can use multiple colors. You can pull up your story in outline mode or timeline mode.

 

Here’s an example so you can envision how the timeline works.

 

 


 

You can create plot cards and also store info about your characters. You can even keep track of a series! You can create a story bible. You can store photos/images. Here's an example of storing information about Places:




 

You can tag things, so that if you want to do a search—for example one particular character—you can pull up everything with that tag and follow that character’s scenes. You can also tag particular plot lines (romance, character arc, faith journey, etc) so that you can keep up.

 

Here’s an example of tagging and filtering:

 



 

Once you have your timeline filled in, you can auto-generate an outline.

 

I just discovered you can even add dialogue snippets if they hit you while you’re working. :) I’ll be using that soon.

 

 


 

I also thought it might help to see the timeline in vertical view in case your brain works better seeing it that way:

 

 


 

I could go on and on. Here's a link to Plottr so you can check it out. (No affiliate links. I just wanted to include a link to make it easier for you.) You can download a free trial to see what you think of it. They also have demos you can check out.

 

Plottr was created by Cameron Sutter. Cameron was a software engineer by trade who was writing novels but having trouble figuring out how to plan them and be able to keep track of notes, and manage story elements that changed all the time. A friend in his writing group suggested a visual tool for planning stories. So he got to work on one using his software background!

 

I’ve used the Scrivener corkboard for planning my stories (it’s the only feature I use in Scrivener). But I find Plottr works much better for me. I can do a lot more with my plot (scene/beat) cards. I’m pleased that I can get a visual grip on my whole story. And for those who do use Scrivener, you can export to Scrivener. You can also export to Word. Another feature in the works now at Plottr…you’ll eventually be able to sync with Scrivener. 

 

I’ll be here today to answer questions. As I said, I’ve only scratched the surface. One nice thing is that there’s a Facebook page for users to ask questions (or just lurk like I do). :)


If you like to plan your stories visually, I hope you'll check it out. Let me know what you think!




After more than 10 years of pursuing her dream of publication, Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.comhttps://twitter.com/MissyTippens and http://www.facebook.com/missy.tippens.readers.

28 comments:

  1. Good morning, everyone! What do y'all think of planning software? Do you use it?

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  2. I've tried using things like index cards and it's never really worked for me. Maybe I'm not a visual enough learner? But plotting is BY FAR the hardest part of writing for me. I'm not--in any area of my life--a "big picture" person. I'd always rather get caught up in details, so maybe that's the reason. I think I will have to check this out.

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    1. Glynis, I've tried all the methods! In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I discovered a stack of colored index cards in the back of a drawer. They had scenes from one of my early books! It was fun to see those again. I would come up with scene ideas and then tape those index cards onto a big tri-fold poster board my son had used for a science fair project. So I've been trying to see the whole story for ages.

      But I prefer having it in my computer. I think that's why I like this program so much.

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  3. This is so timely for me! I'm currently using Scrivener corkboard, but it doesn't seem to be my jam. I'm experimenting with a trial of the Save The Cat! software, but while it's got some advantages over Scrivener, it's still not my answer. What I like about what you've said about Plottr is that you can track multiple arcs. I'll be downloading the trial with high hopes!

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    1. Denise, I hope it works for you! I've never tried the Save the Cat! software but have used those books in the past. I loved the workshops I attended at RWA taught by Blake Snyder before he passed away. There are parts of his method (like writing the book's opening scenes) that really worked for me.

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  4. I'm pretty old school...plotting on paper. Right now I'm using what I call "Agatha Christie's method," which is filling page after page of a notebook as I go.

    But I'll have to try this - paper has it's limitations, like being able to search for a note you wrote two weeks ago!

    Thanks for giving us the heads up, Missy!

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    1. Jan, I used to have a 3-ring binder for each story. Then I went to OneNote. Then Scrivener Corkboard. Now Plottr. But I also still use OneNote for brainstorming because I love how I can have tabs like a regular notebook. :)

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    2. I am so technologically challenged. I tried using OneNote and could not figure out how to use it.

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    3. Sandy, I've had a little trouble, too. Because what I actually used at one time was the Notebook view in Word (which went away). So I was trying to use tabs like I had used in Word. But I'm doing better with it now.

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  5. Hi, Missy! I've already purchased Plottr. In the past I've plotted on paper and used my laptop for my first draft. I'm hoping to start becoming more computer oriented for plotting as right now with digital learning, it's hard to have a bunch of paper spread out on my dining room table, which is where I've had to write. I'm looking forward to exploring more aspects of it soon! Thanks for the info about the FB group. I didn't know about that. Have a great day.

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    1. Tanya, I think you can check on their website for a link to the FB group! I hope the program works out well for you.

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  6. I downloaded Plottr at the beginning of the summer, but I haven't even opened it yet! (Mom got sick and passed away.) It am sooo excited to try it out and your explanation makes me want to get started. :) I love the visuals and really hope this is what works for me.

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    1. Sherrinda, I'm so sorry about the loss of your mom.

      I hope Plottr works as well for you as it has for me.

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    2. Oh, Sherrinda, I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I lost my mom over the summer as well and it's so hard. Hugs to you!

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    3. I'm sorry for your loss, too, Glynis. It's so difficult.

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    4. Glynis, I'm so sorry you lost your mother too. It is such a difficult year, hasn't it? Praying for you.

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    5. Sherrinda and Glynis, I'm sending prayers, sympathy and hugs to you both! Mothers are so special. I'm sorry!

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  7. Missy, this looks very interesting but anything technological like this is such a learning curve for me. I think I might like to try something like this, but right now I am very old school with notes and boards.

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    1. Sandy, I totally get that! Notes and boards are great, too. Like I mentioned above, one that I used that worked well was a recycled (from my son's science fair project) tri-fold board. :)

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  8. Hi Missy:

    The best thing about you using Plottr is the possibility that a new Missy romance may be on its way. What can your fans look forward to?

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    1. Vince, you're so nice! I am actually using it to plot a new proposal. So we'll see how it goes! I'm hopeful!

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  9. Very cool! I like the Romancing the Beat tracking system. As an aside Gwen has a template you can upload to Scrivener that works well too. Do you write your MS in plot or is is just like a filing system?

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    1. Lee-Ann, as far as I know, you do not write within the program. You export your outline into Word or Scrivener. So it's a planning system.

      I didn't realize that about Gwen's template! I love her romance template. It really makes sense for the way I write and plan.

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  11. I love learning about new writing programs through your blogposts, Missy! Thanks for the info on Plottr.

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    1. Debby, it's so fun to check out new methods of plotting, planning, etc!

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  12. This sounds interesting, Missy. What is the learning curve like? With school in session, my time is so limited that I hate to do anything that cuts into writing time. That's why I've never used Scrivener beyond the basics. Every time I think I'll dive into it, I feel like I should be getting in word count instead.

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  13. This looks way more complicated than my spiral notebook. :-) Maybe I will work up to this someday.

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