Has anyone played with Storybook - or StorYbook - which is novel plotting software? It’s open source and runs in windows (i’m playing with with in VMware). It’s interesting in that it provides some useful views of plot, such as showing a story by plot line (or strand) against time thereby making it easy to see how often you address each plot line. You can add scenes to chapters and ‘parts’ (structural elements I suppose, such as beginning, middle and end) and attach characters and locations to each scene. This allows you to chart the appearance of character’s by scene etc.

Some of this stuff you can set up in Scriv but I particularly liked what is called the chronological view which I can’t duplicate. It’s free, and it’s worth a play, but you woudn’t do any actual writing in it.

Can’t get it to run, it keeps asking for a javaw.exe file and I’m not installing Java in Windows just for one app. If I were a Windows or Linux person, I’d go through the troubles it took to get the app to run because I really do like the screenshots.

However, as a Mac person, it doesn’t give me any compelling reason to load up VMware when I’ve already got a spreadsheet app for a barebones chronological view — iWork Numbers loads up speedily on my system whereas, by the time VMware has loaded up Windows or Linux, I’ll have moved on to my next idea.

Two things I don’t like in StoryBook: how confusing is the presentation (the interface elements overwhelms the text!), and how rigid it is the storyline. I would like Writer’s Café way more, even if its implementation is far from perfect.

What I like in Scrivener is how clean the interface can be. As for the storyline, I can’t rely on spreadsheets, since moving index cards around is not a direct action at all (you must copy, paste, delete the original).

Aeon Timeline has a fantastic presentation, and I can’t wait it is finished. In the meantime, I’m using a mix of external graphic programs, and Scrivener’s own index cards.

I will write part of my next stories on a Windows netbook, so I will miss Scrivener during my work. But not much: writing will be done with a pleasant full screen editor, and arrangement will be done in Scrivener, when back at my main desk.


I agree that StoryBook will probably not stand the test of time, partly because I have to load VMware to use it and partly, as Paolo says, the interface is cluttered. The concept is good however - attaching dates to scenes (although time would be useful) and being able to lay them out chronologically as plot strands whilst knowing which characters are in each scene. I know this can be done in a spreadsheet but it would be nice to have everything in one place.