Welcome to our comprehensive Fictionary review! This is a review for any writer or editor looking for a software tool to help improve the structure and overall quality of your manuscript.
In this review, we will dive deep into Fictionary – a web-based editing software that offers a unique approach to developmental editing. We will explore its features, pricing, and how it compares to other popular editing tools, like ProWritingAid.
But spoiler alert, here’s my bottom line: I recommend Fictionary for any author (especially newer authors) who want additional insights into the overall structure of their novel. It is not a proofreading tool like ProWritingAid, but meant to complement such tools.
If you want more details on why I made this decision, read on…
- What Fictionary is
- How much it costs
- My experience using Fictionary
- What I liked and didn’t like about it
Disclaimer: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, but this does not influence my decisions, and every bit goes to the Kindlepreneur coffee fund.
What is Fictionary?
Fictionary is a web-based editing software designed to simplify the editing process for writers and professional editors.
Created by Kristina and Mathew Stanley, it offers a scene-by-scene framework to evaluate and improve novels using the 38 Fictionary Story Elements.
Available in two versions, StoryTeller for writers and StoryCoach for editors, the software enables users to identify and address issues in their manuscripts.
Unlike other editing software, Fictionary focuses on high-level editing rather than grammar and spelling.
This is how I like to think about it: Fictionary is to tools like ProWritingAid and Grammarly, what developmental editing is to proofreading.
It’s no secret that we recommend ProWritingAid as our #1 editing tool, but thankfully Fictionary is not a true competitor. It focuses on a completely different side of editing.
So it’s not one or the other, it’s both!
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How Does Fictionary Work?
Upon uploading a document, Fictionary breaks it down into chapters and scenes, identifying characters, points of view, and major elements. The interface allows users to make edits, such as adding or removing characters, changing points of view, and adjusting word counts.
It also generates graphs and reports to help writers analyze their work and align it with the recommended story arc.
Additionally, it provides “master class” lessons through email, featuring videos and PDFs covering various aspects of storytelling. While the software provides a structured approach to editing, it is ultimately a tool that depends on the skill and effort of the user.
Fictionary will guide you more than tell you what to do/change, and this may be a good thing. It lets you learn more about building plot, characters, and setting on your own, by walking you through the process and helping you to visualize it.
Pricing: How Much Does Fictionary Cost?
Fictionary is a subscription-based service, offering monthly or annual payment options. There are three pricing tiers with monthly or annual rates:
- Storyteller: $19/month or $14/month with annual billing
- Storyteller Premium: $29/month or $21.58/month with annual billing
- StoryCoach: $49/month or $33.25/month with annual billing (editors only)
Is there a free version of Fictionary?
There is not a free version of Fictionary, but you can try the tool out for a 14-day free trial, which should be plenty of time to test it out and see if it’s right for you.
But Fictionary IS offering a special 25% discount on monthly and annual plans for 12 months for those who use the code KINDLE25 at check out. So definitely check that offer out!
My Experience With Fictionary
I was lucky enough to get my hands on a StoryTeller Premium version of Fictionary and spent a lot of time playing with the tool, uploading some of my books that I’m currently working on, and becoming intimately familiar with all of its features.
And believe me, it’s got some good ones.
The following are a few of my thoughts around some of the features I encountered, what I did and didn’t like about them, and how they compare to other editing platforms.
When you start out in Fictionary, you are prompted to either start a new manuscript from scratch, or import a new one. I chose the latter.
I've had some issues with other tools when it comes to importing book documents, so I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth the process was with Fictionary. It wasn't perfect, of course, but it was better than what I've experienced elsewhere.
It managed to keep my formatting mostly intact and didn't lose any content, which was a nice change of pace. It's the little things like that which can make a difference when you're trying to focus on your writing.
Fictionary really won me over with their tutorials and educational documentation. Instead of leaving you to figure everything out, they've got these helpful tutorials that guide you through the tool, and a lot of videos as well. Don’t skip watching these videos!
Fictionary might have seemed a bit overwhelming if it weren’t for all of this documentation, but I can gladly say I never felt lost, specifically because of all the guides.
The documentation they provide is pretty thorough, too. It covers everything you need to know, so you don't feel lost or overwhelmed. They've definitely put some thought into making it an enjoyable experience for writers.
Ease of Use and Design
I think this is worth mentioning. My initial impressions on the design of the tool were that everything looked clean and well designed. I'm sure you've come across tools that have cluttered interfaces and are just not fun to use, right?
Well, Fictionary didn't give me that vibe at all.
It's clear that they've gone to great lengths to make sure the software doesn't feel overwhelming. I’ve already mentioned the documentation, but also the layout is intuitive, and it's easy to find what you're looking for. Plus, the color scheme and fonts are easy on the eyes, which I genuinely appreciate as someone who stares at a screen all day.
Cast of Characters
Right after I imported my manuscript, the Cast of Characters features was one of the first things the software showed me. It automatically listed all my characters, which was pretty neat.
What I really liked about this feature was that it allowed me to pick my protagonist, make sure all my other character names were accurate, and then it automatically discovers which scenes those characters are in, to help you get a clear picture of how balanced a scene is (or isn’t) for those characters.
It was at this point that I was really starting to pay attention to what Fictionary has going on here.
Evaluate (The Reason You’re Here)
The main feature of Fictionary can be found in the “Evaluate” tab, which presents your manuscript to you, along with a large panel on the right.
That large panel is where the magic happens.
However, there is a lot of work that needs to happen at this stage. Fictionary can only auto-populate so much of this material, meaning that you, the author, will need to walk through each scene and fill out all of this information.
This is not a bad thing. This means that you will be prompted on certain aspects of your writing that you can improve. Perhaps you will find that you don't have character goals in each scene, for example.
The section is divided into three main areas:
And here are some of the prompts you will be given in each section, that you will fill out for each scene.
- View Character List
- Point of View (POV)
- POV Goal
- Character Arc
- POV Goal Internal
- Goal Related to Plot
- What if Goal Fails
- Impact on POV Character
- Impact on Protagonist
- POV Knowledge Gained
- Character in Motion Y/N
- Scene Name
- Story Arc Y/N
- Opening Type
- Closing Type
- Anchored (POV/SCENE TIME/SCENE SETTING)
- Entry Hook
- Exit Hook
- Scene Middle
- Scene Climax
- Action / Sequel
- Reader Knowledge Gained
- Date / Time
- Emotional Impact
- Location Split Y/N
As you work your way through each of these, it forces you to ask some hard questions about every scene. And there is a good chance you will find it lacking in some areas.
But that is the point of this tool, to point out where you may have areas you can improve from a structural standpoint. And it does it well.
While the majority of the important work will be done in the “Evaluate” section, the “Visualize” section is just as much fun, if not more so.
There are multiple ways in which you can visualize the data, although it’s worth pointing out that most of these charts and graphs will be useless unless you’ve already gone through the above fields and filled out everything you can for each seen.
Fictionary does automate some of it, like knowing which characters are in which scene, but ultimately a lot needs to be entered by you to get the full experience.
But trust me, it’s worth it.
The graphs do a great job to make sure your book is balanced in a variety of ways, including:
- Whether your your main plot elements (i.e. inciting incident) occur at appropriate times in the plot
- Whether your scenes are the right length compared to each other, or if you have a few outliers that could interrupt the flow of your pacing
- Whether you have a balanced number of scenes per chapter
- Tracking which characters are in every scene
ProWritingAid Chrome Plugin
While not relevant to everyone, I thought it was a huge perk that the ProWritingAid plugins works with Fictionary, meaning you can do all your editing (developmental and proofreading) right within their app.
In fact, ProWritingAid and Fictionary are quite complementary, even though they both are editing tools. One handles the higher-level, structural editing. The other handles the granular, sentence-level editing.
And remember that you can get 20% off the lifetime version of ProWritingAid by using the code KINDLEPRENEUR20 at checkout when you use this link:
The Pros of Fictionary
There is a lot about Fictionary that I like, but here are some of the highlights:
- 14-day trial: Fictionary offers a 14-day free trial, which gives you ample time to test the software and see if it's the right fit for your editing needs without any financial commitment.
- Relatively affordable (even though we don't like subscriptions): Despite being a subscription-based service, Fictionary's pricing tiers are quite reasonable compared to other editing tools, making it an affordable option for writers and editors of all levels.
- Easy to Use: Fictionary boasts an intuitive interface that makes it simple for users to navigate and make the most of the software's features without feeling overwhelmed.
- Great Design: The clean and visually appealing design of Fictionary ensures that you can focus on your writing and editing tasks without being distracted by clutter or poor aesthetics.
- Makes You Think: Fictionary prompts you to deeply analyze your manuscript and consider various aspects of your story, which helps you become a more thoughtful and intentional writer.
- Manages to Quantify the Structure of Fiction: Fictionary's unique approach to evaluating and visualizing the structure of your story allows you to identify potential issues and make targeted improvements for a more compelling narrative.
- Great Documentation: The comprehensive tutorials, videos, and educational documentation provided by Fictionary ensure that you never feel lost or overwhelmed while using the software, making the learning curve smoother and more enjoyable.
The Cons of Fictionary
Fictionary, like pretty much any tool, does have a few things that could be improved. Here are a few:
- A lot of legwork is done by the author: The heavy involvement required from the user could be seen as a con for those looking for a more automated editing process, potentially making Fictionary less appealing to some writers.
- Doesn't track subplots: The lack of a specific feature for tracking subplots within Fictionary could be a drawback for writers who need assistance with managing multiple storylines in their manuscripts.
- Actual editing features limited: Fictionary's focus on developmental editing means that it doesn't offer comprehensive grammar, spelling, and sentence-level editing capabilities, which could be a con for those who want an all-in-one editing solution.
Verdict: Is Fictionary Worth It?
For fiction authors who want a new and innovative way to visualize your plot and characters, ensuring balance among all of your different elements, Fictionary is absolutely something you should check out.
(I would especially recommend this to anyone looking to prepare a manuscript to submit to an agent or traditional publisher.)
Now, it might not be for everybody (most things aren’t). To experienced authors who already have a solid handle on plot, character, and setting, some of Fictionary’s features might seem more like a novelty.
Side note: Additionally, this is a tool for fiction writers, so if you write nonfiction you won’t need it.
Still, it’s definitely something I would recommend to any author who wants additional insights into what makes each scene good and necessary for your novel. It truly is a unique software.
And don't forget to use the code KINDLE25 when you check out to get 25% off your monthly or annual purchase.