Writing a novel is more than just putting words on a page–there’s the planning, drafts, editing, and everything in between. That includes world creation, notes, and basically gathering everything you need in one place. It’s mind-boggling, and that’s probably why other writers (and app developers) have created software to help with that problem. StoryShop.io is one of those applications–an online tool that helps authors build worlds, plot their novels, and write them. It’s for that reason that I’m going to take a look at StoryShop and review its features.
In this article, you will learn:
- What StoryShop.io is
- What features it has for authors
- Why it’s a great world-building tool
- How much it costs
- Whether it’s the right tool for you
So let’s get into it!
What is StoryShop.io?
StoryShop is an online application that allows writers to build worlds, plan stories, write them, and share them with friends or collaborators. StoryShop has a particular focus on world-building for those authors who want to create series and storylines in one set universe… or several. It’s big on community, connection, and crafting the best stories possible. It also happens to have a very neat website that’s easy to navigate–always a positive. Less time fiddling around means more time spent on writing.
One important thing to note is that this isn’t a software download. You can’t keep it on your desktop and store the information on your hard-drive. This is an online app–you need to store everything in StoryShop’s servers and have internet access to be able to work on your stories.Want to up your world-building game? Storyshop.io might just be the tool to do that. Find out more in this review. Click To Tweet
What Features Does Storyshop.io Have?
So, now that we know what Storyshop.io is, we need to find out what it does and what it offers to authors.
Storyshop.io has a very cool guided creation tab. All you have to do is click the ‘+’ in the bottom corner of the screen to add a new story, and you’ll be given several options to work with.
- Create a story using a blank template
- Use one of the beat templates provided
- Import projects that you’ve already worked on at length
Let’s take a more detailed look at each of these and what they provide to writers.
By selecting a blank template when first creating your story, you get exactly that. A completely blank page to write on–which is pretty cool. But if you’re not an experienced author, it does leave you in the dark when it comes to planning. Take a look at the no-frills approach StoryShop has below.
It’s just you and the blank page. Of course, there’s more to it than that. There are a few things you can do from the blank template page:
- Create your book and chapter titles
- Access the world bar and add tags and categories to your story (to keep track of it)
- Turn comments on and off
- Access the beats bar to plan your story–here you can add POVs, scenes, and describe them for yourself so that you’re guided while writing.
- Export your story
- Write in full-screen mode
Overall, I found this pretty overwhelming. There was some information that I could access to help me mess around, but it took a lot of clicking and a glass of bourbon to get me there.
Hopefully, the beat templates are simpler.
It’s also important to note that when you start a new project, you need to select ‘new world’ and ‘new series’ to do it. You’ll then have to circle back later and fill in that world.
When you create a new book in StoryShop, you have the option to use a beat template. What’s pretty cool about these templates is they’re based off of famous stories. Here are a few you can choose from:
- Overcoming the Monster (Dracula)
- Rags to Riches (Cinderella)
- The Quest (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
- Voyage and Return (Alice in Wonderland)
- Tragedy (Romeo and Juliet)
- Rebirth (Sleeping Beauty-Animated)
- Western (The Magnificent Seven-2016)
- Blake Snyder Beat Sheets (Good Will Hunting)
- Syd Field Story Structure (Iron Man)
Instead of being faced with a blank page, you’re faced with a write-up of the general plot points or beats of the story. This is super helpful, especially since you can expand the beats and fill them out to match your story.
You can pop out your beats as separate windows, you can fill them in yourself, and you can open a notes board to help you better keep track of your thoughts while planning your novel. What’s cool about this is you can have your plot and beats on hand while you’re writing your draft.
Using the ‘Beats Bar’ you can add scenes and drag and drop them to where you want them to be situated in the story. Pretty cool!
If you’re already working on a story and you’re looking for a better way to organize it, StoryShop has a function for that too. All you have to do is import your project when creating a new book. The process for doing this is just as simple as it is for creating a story with a blank template or beats template.
Well, it’s easy if you follow the instructions provided by StoryShop.io. You’ll need to format your document correctly before you can import it, but once you’ve done that, it will detect your scenes and chapters for you and upload the project.
When creating stories, you can associate them with one specific world. So, if your series takes places in the Galaxy of Gnarithon, you don’t have to manually go ahead and create a new world every time you start a book in the series. You can just select it from the dropdown. I’d expect nothing less from an app that prides itself on world-building like this one does.
This is the part I’m most excited about when it comes to StoryShop.io. They are big on world-building, so let’s see what they bring to the table when it comes to this.
Right away, it’s pretty easy to add a new world. All it takes is bringing up the option then hitting the little ‘+’ symbol in the bottom corner to create a new world. You can also do this by creating a new story, but doing it this way brings up the world first and foremost.
Once your world is created, you’ll add stories to it, and from there, you can fill your world with detail in the world sidebar. The detail falls into categories and cards. Basically, you can create the following categories or tags and fill them with information about your world:
- Specific Location
All of the information you add to these categories will be cards, and all of those cards are available to you within the story you’re writing–granted, that story must be a part of that world. When it comes to cards, you can easily create a new one and populate it with the information you want available at your fingertips when writing your draft.
What’s cool about these cards is that you can interconnect them with ‘relationships.’ That way you can relate a character to a town or a weapon to a place. Having that information available when writing is invaluable, and it’s far better than having a massive ‘book bible’ you need to scroll through to find the right answers.
Honorable mention: StoryShop University
StoryShop University isn’t technically a part of StoryShop.io–it’s a separate site. Here, authors can go to take courses or find more information about outlining and writing. You can find courses there that range from pre-writing all the way through to world-building. It’s important to note that these courses are free but they aren’t video content courses.
They are packed with information, however, and it’s great to have all that knowledge centralized in one place.
What Does it Cost?
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. What do all these awesome features cost? What’s awesome about StoryShop.io’s pricing is that it’s simple. I’m all for added features and extras, but complications are just… frustrating. With just three options, it’s clear what you’re getting and what you’re paying for it.
Also, I love the fact that you get a lot of value with the free version and that the upgrade to pro is made exciting by added bonuses and more functionality. It doesn’t feel like you’re being held back by the pricing rather than set free by it.
For $9.99 a month, you’re getting value for money if you’re interested in the features provided. With that, let’s move on to what I disliked about what StoryShop.io has to offer.
What I Disliked About StoryShop.io
StoryShop has a lot of amazing features–I’m particularly impressed with the simple styling of the website and the world-building tools it provides–but there were some things I didn’t like. Let’s go over those things now, so that we can get an even view of the app.
- It’s an online service. You can’t work in areas where you don’t have internet access–but that also means you can work anywhere there is internet and you have a device. It’s a double-edged sword.
- It’s almost too simple when it comes to plotting. There’s some guidance from the beat sheets and you can do a lot of cool things like pop out windows for a particular chapter beat, but there’s no step-by-step instruction on how to plot a book. That might be a problem for beginner authors.
- If you want guidance you need to go to a separate site. StoryShop University is cool, but it’s a click away from the actual app. The guidance isn’t right there on the page while you’re writing or planning.
- Some of the beats bar information took a few too many clicks to find for my liking. Simplicity is great, and I struggled to find the spaces to fill in the beats in the first place.
Is StoryShop.io the Right Outline Software for You?
StoryShop.io is fantastic software if you’re looking to build worlds and organize your books in them. You can create cards and categories for just about everything you’ll need within your world and connect those worlds to multiple stories within a series.
For authors of fantasy and sci-fi or any genre that requires world-building on a grand scale, the outlay of say, $9.99 per month, is probably worth it as you’ll be able to organize everything around your story as you write. Of course, you can always try the software in the Lite version free first and decide for yourself.
I wouldn’t recommend StoryShop.io for new authors who need loads of guidance when it comes to plotting, however, as the information about plotting isn’t that detailed–you’d have to click away and check out StoryShop University for that. Better software for that would probably be Plot Factory or The Novel Factory.
If you’re looking for one of the best world-building tools on the market, you’ve come to the right place. StoryShop.io is an intuitive online tool that will help you create, write, and share your story. However, bear in mind that they are morphing into Plot Factory–your use of the tool will be short-lived.