StoryMill is one of a few software packages by Mariner Software that work to help writers. While StoryMill is dedicated to various aspects of overall novel writing, Persona (character management) and Contour (story outline) are two other options that focus on specific areas of novel development. I'll be honest: Contour is not something I'll try because I am not the type of writer who outlines in any detail whatsoever. I have a general idea, pit stops along the way, and an endgame; however, my characters direct me better than any outline I've ever done. In other words, you won't see a review of it here because it won't be unbiased. With that being said, Persona is on my list because it has what I wished StoryMill did for characters: detail, detail, detail!
It does have some simple planning features that make Contour unnecessary for many writers. The main screen for "Scenes" gives you a list of your scenes and the ability to pull up a timeline of your novel's scenes:
|Scene Main Screen|
When going back and adding the information for my novel, the most helpful parts for me were the chapter, date, and time. I was able to get a timeline going and really think about the amount of time that was passing in each scene and how plausible certain things were in the scheme of that time frame. On the other hand, the timeline feature is only so helpful. Rather than stacking scenes chronologically for each date, everything falls in a line to scroll horizontally no matter how short of a time frame you select.
There are a lot of small features having to do with formatting, exporting, etc., but they are what you would expect from writing software. A few mop-up features of interest:
- Word Frequency - See how many times you use certain words in each chapter or the novel overall.
- Progress Meter - Set a word count goal and you'll see a meter at the top of the screen that shows your progress to the selected goal. It can be progress for the current session or the whole novel's completion.
- Highlight Cliches - Find possible cliches in your writing.
- Snapshot - Take a snapshot of your work before you make big edits or changes.
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