I like to start every article with a truism. And there's nothing truer than how hard it is to write a great screenplay. It's a feat that can feel like an impossible task. As a writer of many screenplays, I am always excited to test new products or strategies to help streamline my work.
Really what I want is to find the strategies that give me the best opportunity to succeed every time. What are the writing habits or tools that bring out the best in me? That showcases my voice and my skill, so I can consistently deliver when I need to crack those tough scenes?
I was excited when one of my co-workers sent me the Story Planner website. One of the things I try to practice as much as I preach on this website is outlining and planning my screenplays. Whether it's a pilot or a feature film, you will always find me writing a treatment. and I never start anything unless I have the end scene pictured.
How does this site stack up?
We Tested the "Story Planner" Website—Here Are the Results
As soon as you log onto the Story Planner website, you get an array of statements about what they want writers to take away from using it.
It says, "We offer a range of story plans to suit your writing style, whether you like a fast, easy planning method, or more detailed story structure. We look at planning methods so you don't have to. We've selected the very best ways to plan a story and many popular methods used by successful writers. Our plans can help with more than just plots. We can help you understand your characters, define your story setting, and understand why you write. Story Planner Helper will guide you to choose the right plan. We have plans for every stage of the writing journey."
The Story Planner websiteCredit: Story Planner
These words are nice, but the real meat of what the site does is located in pages like "Story Plans," "Story Summaries," and "The Story World."
Each of those dropdowns takes you to pages where you fill out prompts to help guide your story. Where do these prompts come from?
Well, depending on if you're writing a screenplay, novel, or nonfiction work, they are aggregated famous methods. Like I said earlier, it's Save the Cat, the Hero's Journey, Syd Field, etc. When you select these, you're taken to a page with prompts specific to these methods.
There's even an option to make scene notecards, which I bet is very useful if I'm working on a TV pilot.
Once you type your info into those prompts, you can save them as a Word doc or PDF, or other exportable things. Very slick!
They also have an estimated amount of time it might take you to fill out each strategy. I actually loved that idea, because as sort of a lazy first draft person, I might choose some of the faster documents to spread my ideas out in, and then work deeper into the more in-depth outlines to refine as I went.
As someone who has never attempted a novel, I'm not sure how effective those tools on the site are, so I won't comment on them.
Screenplay outline options on Story PlannerCredit: Story Planner
So What Does This All Cost?
Initially, you can use all of the services on the site for free. But you can only use one project with them. And if you want to save them, you have to select the "Build My Project" plan, which costs. There's always a price tag when it comes to these things. It costs around $15 for three months or $40 for the year.
While that's relatively cheap, everything this site offers is basically free elsewhere. You can just copy the prompts into a Google Doc and write as many as you want for free. And our website has beat sheets, classic screenplay structure, story structure, world-building, character development, character archetypes, character arcs, and even your elevator pitch, all for free.
And a quick Google shows me lots more across the internet. You can even pick the specific ones that we may not have, and find them elsewhere.
That means all you're paying for is the power to export, which seems worthless because you can do that for free as well if you just look elsewhere for these sheets.
Summing Up the "Story Planner" Website
All things considered, this is an exciting website with a lot of valuable tools—that you can really only use once. Everything we found on the site is free elsewhere, with most of it being available for free on our website.
At the end of the day, we support any tool that helps you develop an original idea. You might find that easy access to templates works for you, and that's okay! But for me, I would rather be able to have the tools offline and work on them in my own word processing or screenwriting software program.
So for me, I say, "Skip it." But Let me know if you swear by it! And let me know if you want us to do an article on any of the strategies on the website you'd like to see for free here!