I’m always looking for a way to streamline the outlining process, to improve or to learn new plotting techniques. I figured checking out some of the best outlining software or tools would help me with this and Plot Factory happens to be one of those tools.
Outlining your novel is a great way to increase your word count–knowing what you’re going to write before you write it will help you write faster and with purpose. And in today’s publishing world, creating quality books quickly is essential. So, let’s check out what Plot Factory has to offer and figure out whether it’s the right tool for your outlining needs.
Psss… if you're interested in getting Plot Factory after reading this review, we have a discount code for you to use. Simply enter kpnr-35 at checkout to claim 35% off for 12 months! Also, I will be using affiliate links in this article, which is what allows me to get access to coupons like the one I just mentioned.
In this article, you will learn:
- What Plot Factory is
- What features it offers
- How to create an outline in Plot Factory
- The pros and cons of using Plot Factory
- How much it costs
- If Plot Factory is the right tool for you
What is Plot Factory?
Plot Factory is a story creation tool that allows you to workshop your work-in-progress–it gives you easy access to everything you need on one dashboard. Basically, instead of creating a massive story bible of characters, the outline, the world you’ve created (especially in fantasy) and the draft itself, in a series of different word documents, Plot Factory gathers all of that information in one place. I’d say it’s probably a tool that’s focused on fiction authors rather than nonfiction, but we’ll get into that later on.
Take a look at the dashboard below.
Just at a glance, it’s obvious that there’s a lot of utility in the tool. You can create new stories, character sheets, answer questionnaires to help you plot your story and even use a name generator if you’re unsure of what you want your characters to be called. And it seems like there’s a word count tracker too.
Plot Factory is available online but not as a downloadable tool to your desktop. If you want to find out more about Plot Factory in the general sense you can check out their super helpful FAQ.Want to know whether outlining software is right for you? Check out this Plot Factory review from Kindlepreneur.Click To Tweet
What Features Does it Offer?
Planning a story isn’t as simple as picking out a character name and an idea and just sitting down to write. If it was, we’d all be bestsellers. It takes a lot of time and effort to plot stories and that’s no different when it comes to using Plot Factory. The difference with Plot Factory is that you have everything in one place, and there are guided processes for you to use.
Two important features that don’t get their own section below, but still deserve a mention are:
- The ability to export your draft as an ePub or docx
- It’s mobile-friendly–you can work anywhere, any time
Let’s dig deeper than that, though, and take a look at what Plot Factory can do for you.
Just from a quick session of playing around with the outlining options in Plot Factory, my inner plotter is happy. Everything you do in your outline can be connected to the universes, stories and characters you want to create. That means you can create multiple projects, assign plots and characters to them, and keep your ‘book bible’ in one place.
In Plot Factory, there are two main ways you can start creating your outline for a story.
Using Outlining Templates
For the less-experienced plotter or a writer who just wants a more guided experience, Plot Factory provides five different outlining experiences. They can be accessed under ‘questionnaires’ or by hitting the ‘stories’ button and creating a story and an outline after it.
The different outline templates provided are:
- The Snowflake Method
- The Three Act Scene Maker
- Three Act Plotting Template
- Story Beats Plotting Template
- Story Premise Worksheet
What’s cool about this feature is that it answers all the questions you might have about your story or creating structure before you can even think of them. It tells you what each of the elements are or what they mean, or what should be happening in your story at any given point.
You can even create your own template to use for future stories you create in Plot Factory. Since the software is called ‘Plot Factory’ I was expecting a lot from this feature, and I was quite happy with it.
Using the Plot Creator
If you’re a more experienced writer, or you’re just not into the whole ‘guided experience’ you can easily create a plot on your own without a template. The Plot Organizer button takes you to a screen where you can create your own story using acts (as many as you want, though three is the standard) and plot events.
Creating the content of the plots is up to you as the writer, but the guided process coupled with the freedom to do your own thing really did it for me. It’s pretty intuitive to use for multiple projects.
The most important part of outlining any novel is the characters. They drive the story forward and they’re who the readers come back for, particularly in series. Plot Factory allows you to create characters by filling out either Basic or Comprehensive Character sheets. You can also import characters from other universes (we’ll talk more about how that works in the Universe Creation section).
You also have the option to create your own character sheet template to be used in other stories you might start. Once again, this is a great blend of creativity and structure that will help you properly plan your story. From what we’ve seen so far, Plot Factory is not only a tool that helps you keep your information in one place, but a guided online teacher that helps you better understand story structure. We all need help with that!
You can create multiple characters under each story, and connect those characters to universes as well. Which leads us to the next feature…
Universe creation is important for every story, most especially those written in the fantasy or sci-fi genre. It’s pretty overwhelming to create a universe, and even more so if you have to do it in multiple documents. That’s not the case with Plot Factory. The Universe Creation tool allows you to create different places within a universe, attach characters to a universe and add a detailed description of what laws the universe operates under.
You can easily attach characters to a universe, whether it’s under the ‘Universe’ dashboard or the ‘Stories’ area. You can also create objects that might be important to a universe in this section, magical or otherwise. If you’re not happy with the universe, you can easily delete it and create a new one, and there’s also a space for ‘notes’ that you can use to jot things down you’re afraid you might forget.
This is the meat and potatoes of Plot Factory’s functionality. You can do the following when you hit the ‘Stories’ button to start your novel:
- Create a draft, chapters and title your story
- Provide more information about your story, including writing up a book description
- Create an outline with the Plot Organizer or with outlining templates
- Organize your story by dragging and dropping chapters where you want them to be
- Create characters with character template sheets
- Create objects that are important to the story
- Add places that are relevant to the story
- Jot down notes that you might need later on
- Check out your writing stats and word counts
- Share your story with others
- Use the name generator
- Start a discussion with others (in Discord)
- Go to the universe you’ve attached to the story.
All of it’s available on one screen and is easily navigable. I think my favorite part of this is the ability to write and organize your entire draft in the app. It’s not like you create your plot then work on your story in a separate document–it’s all in one place!
This wasn’t a feature I expected to find when I first signed up for Plot Factory–I’m pleasantly surprised. You can generate a name for any of your characters in multiple different languages including Ancient Celtic. There’s a popularity bar you can use to find rare or popular names in your chosen language and you can class the names as ‘female,' ‘male' or ‘both.'
I did notice that the tool doesn’t separate name generation into either last name or first name, meaning I got an error like the one in the picture above. Also, a few of those rarer name types didn’t populate any names at all–possibly, that’s something Plot Factory can work on expanding in the future.
Word Count Tracking
Since plotting helps you increase your daily word count–if you sit down and write, of course–it makes sense that you’d want to keep track of how much you write per day. And since Plot Factory allows you to write your draft in the app, it’s provided word count tracking functionality and ‘Stats’ button for exactly this reason.
By clicking on that button, you can set your word count goal for your current project, check out how many words are in each of the chapters you’ve created, as well as analyze how many words you might have overused in each of them. There’s also a handy graph tracker that tells you how much you’ve written per day. That’s great if you want to create a long-term writing habit.
I tried out the analysis tool–results below. You can filter out words and phrases according to their length and how many times they occur in the manuscript. I only used two chapter examples so they might be slightly skewed results, but the analysis tool seems to work well.
Story Sharing and Narration
Here’s something neat I didn’t know I wanted until I clicked on the ‘Share Story’ button–you can share your work-in-progress with others and you can add a narration! You can select from four narrators, thus creating an audio file for your readers/beta readers/critique partners to listen to. It’s not necessarily something you need but it’s a cool added feature.
The shared story link is available on your dashboard and is easy to copy and share. The fact that you can have the story read to you instead of reading it yourself is a great way to pick up on errors you might have missed when editing your manuscript the first time around.
What Does it Cost?
Now that we understand exactly what Plot Factory can do (keyword: a lot!) we’ll have to figure out whether it’s worth a financial investment on your part. Pricing for Plot Factory is divided into different monthly tiers–so it’s not a once-off app purchase. Check out the tiers below.
As an added bonus, you can now get 35% off for 12 months by using this Kindlepreneur discount code when you checkout: kpnr-35
What I like about this pricing is that there’s a free version you can use to test out Plot Factory and that there are options to pay for the features you enjoy either monthly or yearly (you save money by paying yearly).
If you want all of the bells and whistles, i.e. everything we’ve discussed in our review above, you’ll have to fork out for the Novelist tier, but I’d go as far as to say that you’ll probably get what you want out of the Enthusiast or Hobbyist packages. $14 seems reasonable for unlimited access to story creation.
I originally believed that you were limited on how many words per day you can write under the Hobbyist or Basic plans–but that's not true. You have unlimited writing power under all plans–the only limit is on how many words you can put through the TTS narration tool.
Another thing I’m not a fan of is the fact that you don’t get to use the sidebar quick viewer unless you’re paying for the Enthusiast or Novelist packages. I’ve got to say that navigation was a bit of an issue for me, and I wouldn’t like to outline or use Plot Factory without this feature available.
What I Disliked About Plot Factory
While using the Plot Factory app, I did come across a few areas where it lacked. Here are things I think can be improved upon:
- All the different dashboards. It’s pretty confusing switching from the stories dashboard to the universe creation dashboard only to realize that you’re no longer working on what you thought you were. It takes some getting used to. For instance, the outline templates are under ‘outlines’ as well as under ‘questionnaires’ in two separate areas. And now that we know that you don’t get the sidebar quick viewer without going Hobbyist or above, things get even more complicated.
- Nonfiction misses out. While this app probably isn’t geared toward nonfiction writers, you can still use it if you’re writing a memoir. However, you’ll be paying a lot more for features that you won’t use because you’re not creating universes or worlds. It seems the tool is very much geared toward those authors who like to create on a grand scale.
- It’s not a desktop app. This is a major drawback for me–you can’t download it and work offline as far as I can tell. You have to access the website online and if you’re, say, traveling and you don’t have the greatest connection, you won’t be able to access your stories on your laptop or tablet.
Is Plot Factory the Right Tool for You?
If you’re serious about plotting your story and you’re creating a massive project that involves multiple worlds or different universes, or if you’re writing in a series, then paying for the Novelist plan is probably a good investment. The plot templates alone are worth the price–especially if you’re not sure about story structure.
However, you can find information on story structure online and teach yourself without using Plot Factory. You can also plot out and write your story without using it either, it will just take multiple documents. What you’ll be saving by using this tool is time–an investment of money gives you more time because you’ll spend less of it switching between documents or researching story structure online. If you feel like you've got enough plotting or outlining experience, or you're a nonfiction author, Scrivener might be a better bet.
For the avid writer, the fantasy plotter, and those who need plot guidance, I do recommend Plot Factory. If you’re writing a nonfiction work, probably not so much, unless you want to keep your outline and your story in one place.
Authoring novels is hard work, and outlining software like Plot Factory provides authors with a tool that makes their lives easier. Understanding story structure is one of the most important parts of writing your story and, later, selling it, and with Plot Factory’s simple plot templates and explanations, new authors will be less likely to trip up. If you want to try out Plot Factory, you can easily check out the free version today!