Mark Fassett began development of Storybox just before NaNoWriMo last year as an alternative to the Mac only software Scrivener. I had the opportunity to try version 0.54. According to Mr. Fassett’s blog, users can expect frequent updates. Keep in mind, StoryBox is still in the development stage, so Mr. Fassett has a bit of tweaking to do. As such, I’m doing a different kind of review with this one. Rather than just spewing my likes and dislikes, I’m also adding my wish list for the software. But first, the brief description of StoryBox.
The software for Novelists that lets you write the way you want to write.
Yep. 🙂 That’s it.
First thing I noticed about StoryBox was the eye pleasing interface. Remember–I’m that gal who first judges a book by the cover. Software is no different. 🙂 If I’m going to stare at something for hours at a time, shouldn’t it be pretty?
Next, there was very little in terms of a help file. I’m laughing as I say type this, because the software isn’t finished and bound to change as time passes. So a comprehensive help file seems frivolous. Because it lacked major documentation, I had to wing it. Even so, I had little problems figuring out how to use this program. For someone looking for a novel writing software a bit more straightforward than Liquid Story Binder, this’ll do in a cinch.
A quick look at the features:
Editor – Yes it has one! There’s nothing spectacular about it. It doesn’t have all the formatting features of MS Word, but I believe it fits most writer’s needs. Italics Bold, Underline–yep! It’ll do it. Copy, cut, paste? Check. Plus you can change your font.
Now my favorite part of the software is a feature called the File Drawer. This is where the user organizes their work. It’s rather flexible. Though there are some default names such as “chapter,” “characters,” “locations,” “notes,” and “items,” they’re not set in stone. The default names can all be renamed to suit the needs of the users. Additionally, each heading allows the option to create subheadings (a hierarchy system). Nice!
More about the File Drawer in terms of the story line and editor: Mr. Fassett did a great job in integrating. For my test story, I started by adding chapters. There’s a place to add a synopsis for the chapter and a title. In the top level (the Story) the program automatically creates an outline and storyboard for the chapters. I cannot express how much I appreciate not having to do this separately. Likewise, the same goes for the scenes within the chapters–automatic outline and storyboard.
For you slave drives out there, StoryBox also has a goal setting feature. It includes a daily and project word count goal, while also tracking the time spent with the program open for the project.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have days when my computer overheats and zap! it shuts down. OMG! Did I save? I don’t know. Thing with StoryBox is it has a nice autosave feature. My understanding is the program saves the work as it’s written. However, the developer encourages users to BACK UP BACK UP BACK UP.
Now here’s something I found interesting. It may or may not work for you. As I deleted items from my File Drawer, I noticed I didn’t receive a confirmation. Instead, there’s a drawer called Trash where all your deleted files get stored. The nice thing about this is if you change your mind, you have a place to search. All is not lost. 🙂
Okay, you’ve finished your story. Now what? Export it! Storybox includes a feature which allows the user to export into an RTF file. Now, here I think it could use a bit more tweaking, as I didn’t find anything to change the default output. My output looked like a plain text file, completely stripped of the formatting. I imagine Mr. Fassett knows about this issue since the software only accepts documents with minimal formatting at the moment.
Even so, if a user would happen upon a bug, StoryBox has an easy to use form to report them.
Now I usually leave out the costs. However, I think it’s important to mention the deal Mr. Fassett offers while the software is in the pre-release version. StoryBox is free to try right now. If you do decide to purchase while it’s in the pre-release version, the cost is $25. According to the website, this is a significant discount over the full price (whatever that’ll be). So, if you like StoryBox, you might want to get it while it’s in development rather than later. 🙂
Now for my wishlist!
- Spellchecker while typing
- Tutorials and Help Guides
- I’d like the chapters to be automatically numbered in the File Drawer instead of every new chapter having the label “chapter”
- I prefer NOT to have a separate tab open when clicking on the the items in the File Drawer, it gives me a sense of clutter. Yes, I know I can close them all down in one swoop. Personally, I’d just like it to do what I want in the first place rather than cleaning up after the fact. An option maybe in the preferences?
- Would like the labels for the character interview to be semi-permanent. That way I can do a simple tab to the input fields (as it is, the interview is a document with questions for the user to answer, but not separated into labels and input fields.)
- Would love to have a find and replace feature
Now remember, this is a pre-release version. Expect changes and additional features in the future. My personal opinion is it’s a nice start, and I’m hopeful about future developments.