I love StoryWeaver. It is both a very simple and very clever piece of story development software, and its low price tag puts it well within reach of struggling novel writers.
Let me start by telling you what it does (and doesn't do), then afterwards I'll try to explain what makes it so great.
Novel writing software, generally speaking, performs one or both of the following tasks...
Organization. That is, it acts as a word processor for writers, with a window to do the actual typing and smaller windows around the edges containing notes on character, plot, and so on.
Story Development. You start with just the spark of an idea and the software guides you through the entire process of creating a detailed novel outline (which you then simply have to transform into prose and dialogue).
StoryWeaver is NOT a word processor for writers (you'll have to look elsewhere if you want one of those). It is purely a story development tool.
It basically works by asking you a series of questions about your novel (over 200 of them, in fact). You think about each one and type the answer into a text box.
Each question (or "story card", as they are called) is designed to add a little more flesh to the bones of the story you want to tell. By the time you reach the end, not only will you have a very detailed plan for a novel but one that is well-rooted in sound theory.
Understand that StoryWeaver will NOT do all the work for you...
Nevertheless, this software acts as a great guide. It stops you straying off course and makes sure you don't miss out anything crucial along the way.
I don't want to talk about StoryWeaver in great detail here, because you can do that when you visit their website (link below). You can also "try before you buy" with a no-strings demo version.
But by way of whetting your appetite, here is an idea of some of the tasks you will be asked to perform...
(I should point out that each of the "story cards" contains a lot more background and explanation than I have quoted above.)
Story development software is only as good as the literary theory behind it. You can rest assured that StoryWeaver will assist you in creating a rock-solid story.
This isn't surprising when you realize that it was written by the creator of Dramatica Pro - which is itself not so much a great piece of novel writing software as a work of genius.
It is also worth noting that everything you have learned (and will hopefully continue to learn) here at Novel Writing Help is complemented perfectly by everything in StoryWeaver (and Dramatica, too, for that matter).
While I certainly wouldn't recommend Dramatica Pro for beginners (I have trouble getting my head around it!), StoryWeaver is a walk in the park.
Okay, you still need to work at it. (Like I said above, no writing software will write your novel for you.) But there is nothing fundamentally difficult about it, particularly if you are already familiar with the fiction writing essentials.
The interface is simplicity itself, too. (Actually, it's so basic that it's ugly, but I for one am happy to take substance over style.)
The best thing about StoryWeaver, though, is that the software doesn't box you in or force you to go in directions you don't want to go. It respects the fact that creativity is not a logical process, and it allows you to wander with your muse wherever you will.
Anyway, enough from me...
You can find out more (and download a free demo version) from this website (new window).