You might already have Scrivener. You might already love Scrivener. But if you’re like me, you don’t have it and you don’t love it. I don’t need to pay that much for that many features I will never use.
And then I found Amazon is getting into the writer’s world (go figure) and their tools knocked my socks off. I actually wasn’t wearing socks at the moment, so I should say “my jaw dropped”. Of course, it only dropped as much as was physically possible without serious injury, though it might have made me look dumb.
I’m going to share with you two Amazon apps that might just make the difference in your writing routine without making a difference to your wallet. Hold on, enjoy the ride, and please keep all limbs inside the vehicle.
Disclaimer: although both of these are marketed as screenwriting apps, I will illustrate their usefulness in the general field of creative writing.
When I look at Scrivener, one thing stands out and makes my mouth water: the sticky note/corkboard. So cool! Here’s the free alternative.
When you create a corkboard, you’ll be asked to give it a name…
…and then you’re inside!
It’s all up to you from here. Collect random notes for your story, then rearrange them into an outline if you wish. If you don’t wish, don’t rearrange them. It’s your corkboard. Make it messy.
The interface is very easy to use; the cards are moved with a simple drag/drop.
Let me tell you 4 impressive reasons why you should give this a try. Those reasons are purely the features.
1. You can insert pictures into your notes
Your corkboard can become an inspiration board. Kinda like a Pinterest board that you can actually organize into story form. Double click on a card and it expands like this.
Have fun adding pictures and describing how they fit into the story!
Also, notice the “Add a #tag” field under the card title. This is an awesome way to sort your cards.
2. The handy dandy drawer
You can store extra or off topic cards (and images) in the drop down drawer. This is one of my favorite features. I can move all the ideas that aren’t quite right out of the way, but hold onto them just in case. (Don’t ask me how I clean up my room. #horder)
If you’ll kindly notice the menu in the top left corner of the drawer, you’ll also kindly notice the word “TEMPLATES”.
If you don’t already study under K. M. Weiland, you should. But if deep story structure seems a bit out of your ballpark or not worth the learning investment, you should go with something simpler. Behold, the amazing Basic Movie Structure template!!!!!
Each all-important story structure element is broken down on a single card–which means you can use it as a fill in the blank system. I have them all collapsed here so you can see them without scrolling down, but once again I’ll double click to expand the view.
Take a cue from the card and write a quick sketch of how that happens in your story. These pointers will help ensure your story follows the reader proven three act form. It’s more than just tradition; it’s an expectation.
4. Add contributors (#collab)!
Co-authoring? Sounds fun, I’ve never tried because it probably wouldn’t work. I’m kinda overbearing and opinionated.
If you are co-authoring, or at least want input/brainstorming help, good for you. Amazon Storybuilder allows you to add contributors to your corkboard.
Pretty cool, huh? Give it a try. It’ll require you have an Amazon account (who doesn’t these days?), and then you’ll use that account to join the studio for free. You can access the corkboard from any device!
If you’re a pantser (you write by the seat of your pants) stop here and stay happy. I don’t want you to chew all your pencils with the stressful thought of overworking your story idea before you get there. Beaver’s chew down whole trees, but their teeth continue to grow so it doesn’t matter if they wear them down. Most of us writers, however, are human; and we can’t afford to chew our pencils–or pens for that matter.
Now, if you’re a screenwriter or if you like to write a detailed outline of your story read on. Amazon has another cool app.
This is an app made for writing scripts–movie scripts! Okay, okay, you could just do that with Word or G Docs or any wordprocessor… but get this–IT AUTO FORMATS!
Is formatting the most daunting thing about writing a script? Of course yes (in my humble-ish opinion). No more.
I played around with it a little, but not being a screenwriter myself, I had almost lost myself along with all other novelists. Then I struck upon the idea of using Storywriter for plotting/outlining/planning.
However you end up using Amazon Storywriter, you can easily export the finished doc as a PDF! You can also download the app to work offline on a computer. Unlimited cloud storage for your scripts is a free included plus.
There you have it! Amazon’s free contributions to the writer’s toolbox. Please excuse me while I run off to make full use of these awesome tools.
Paul Willis is a young Christian author in Arizona. He is learning (and always will be) the crafts of writing and independent publishing. His style alternates between comedic and poetic. He hopes others will benefit from his experiences and mistakes.