Wednesday, June 01, 2016


I've always found story planning a pain, something akin to swimming up river wearing a suit made of concrete. That tricky second act is a bugger and often comes back to haunt me like last night's curry.

The way I approach structuring my writing has changed many times over the years and at the moment I'm using a combination of Blake Snyder's Save The Cat beat sheet and blank index cards.

I would always encourage new writers to follow beats and screenplay templates when they first start out, but once you've used them a few times and learned the rules of formatting and structure, it's then possible to be more flexible in your approach. You have to know the rules in order to mess around with them, to break them and create a unique way of telling your story. Even then templates are still helpful.

A few weeks ago I was approached by a new story planning website and asked if I would promote it. Those of you that know me know I don't just pimp any old thing. I don't have ads on my blog or my website for that very reason, so if I do decide to promote a service, site or book it's because I've checked them out thoroughly and I'm satisfied I would happily use them myself.

So it was with pleasure and a great deal of excitement that I dove right into the wonderful ( and gave it a damn good testing. This new site not only gives you access to structure templates like Save the Cat, Syd Field, The Hero's Journey, the Moral Premise and more, but it also gives you more free form ‘Index Card’ style planning tools so you CAN break those rules. There are even templates for those novelists of you out there. How very handy! In fact, there are more tools to help improve your writing than you can shake a stick at, all on one handy website. Even better than that it's a free resource. Here's the official press release below. 
Story Planner offers the largest collection of writing plans online 
Story Planner aims to be the home for story planning online. The new website offers online tools for every aspect of screenplay preparation, from recording new ideas to crafting story structure, developing character outlines, creating log lines and synopsis, or planning scenes. Story Planner gives writers the opportunity to save their notes in project files, and prepare the groundwork for writing a novel, short story or screenplay.
Writers can choose from a range of popular planning methods including Save the Cat, The Hero's Journey, the Moral Premise, Syd Field’s Paradigm and many more. The site also offers a forum, with a facility to share a writing plan for feedback from other writers. Regular free to enter competitions give writers the chance to practise their story structure skills.
Joanne Bartley who founded Story Planner said, “I trained as a screenwriter and went from being a writer who wrote entirely instinctively to someone who loved the structure of a writing plan. I think structure plans can guide any writer’s creativity.” 
“I created Story Planner because so many writers use plans from books, character worksheets, or download or create spreadsheet templates, but there was nowhere that offered all of these in one place. So I made the Story Planner site to offer all my favourite plans and give writers the ability to save and edit the plans online.” 
Story Planner has collaborated with many authors and screenwriters to offer their plans online, including Karen Weisner, Graeme Shimmin, Stanley D. Williams (the Moral Premise), Libbie Hawker (Outline your books, for faster, better writing ), Randy Ingermanson (the Snowflake Method), and Save the Cat. 
Joanne said, “I wanted the site to offer a wide range of plans because I know writing methods are personal, so we designed the site so writers can ‘favourite’ their preferred plans ready to use for every project. I intend the site to grow over time, and welcome writers getting in touch with suggestions of new plans to add.”  
Story Planner is free to use, with premium membership offering additional features. 
For full details visit 
Having said that, nothing quite beats the satisfaction of good old fashioned pen and paper.

Happy writing!

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