Category Archives: StoryWeaver Software

About StoryWeaver Software…

A writer recently asked:

Just purchased the software. But am clueless how to use it and how to derive the maximum benefit out of it. Kindly mail me the links/articles which will help me understand the program and its concept better.

My reply:

The concept is simple. It is nothing more than a list of about 200 questions you answer in order. By the time you get through all 200 questions, you’ll have completely developed your story.

Here’s how it works. You go to the list of folders on the left hand side of the StoryWeaver window. You open the top folder by clicking on it. You click on the first item in the folder and follow the instructions. You then go to the second item down in the folder and follow the instructions. When you finish with the items in that folder, you open the next folder down and do the same. Just work from top to bottom of the question list and you’ll go through them all in the proper order.

What it does. As you answer questions, StoryWeaver from time to time will automatically show you your answers to previous questions as reference to help you answer the current question. in addition, every few questions StoryWeaver will present you with all the material you’ve most recently developed and ask you to blend it all into a synopsis of your story so far. As you go, you will keep blending new material into that ever growing synopsis, which eventually becomes your fully developed story.

Also, near the end, you will determine how you want to reveal your story to your readers/audience and it will help you outline all your chapters or acts and scenes.

In the end (or at any time) you can print out all your work or export it to a file you can open in your word processor for further polish.

That’s all there is to it.

Here’s a link to some articles about StoryWeaver:

Here’s a link to some videos about StoryWeaver:

Melanie Anne Phillips
Creator, StoryWeaver

StoryWeaver Writing Software Walk Through Video

By Melanie Anne Phillips

In this overview video I introduce the concept behind StoryWeaver and explore its key features.  Read my additional text below the video for more details…

When I created the first version of StoryWeaver way back in 2001, I had no idea it would fill such a creative niche for writers.  Yet all these years later, it is still the number one best-seller on my store for writers, beating out every other program, tool, or informational product by a landslide.

So why is StoryWeaver still so popular?  I believe there are two reasons:

First, StoryWeaver was designed with a Step By Step approach to story development.  You begin with your initial inspiration, then gradually make it richer and more detailed, one step at a time.

Second, StoryWeaver automatically quotes the text you wrote in earlier steps so you can fold that into the current step.  In this way, you always have a real story from the very first step, and it just gets deeper and more complete with each mini-revision you make, step by step.

There are more than 200 steps in StoryWeaver.  There need to be in order to give your story the shading and nuance you’d like it to have.  You build and grow your characters, chart and explore your plot, focus and support your message, and expand your genre until your story develops its own unique personality.

As you might imagine, I could go on and on about each individual step, why it is there, what it does for your story, and what it does for your Muse.  But that’s just because I honest to gosh think this program is so useful, I get a little gung-ho about sharing it.

I’ve gotten two kinds of emails from users over the years: Those who practically worship StoryWeaver and those who call it everything from “simplistic” to “overly complex.”  This always leaves me with a head tilt: how can it be both too simple and too complex?

The answer, of course, is that it is one thing to one writer and something else to another.  Each writer has his or her own style, though we all follow the same basic progression.  StoryWeaver (or any writing software for that matter) can’t be right for everyone, by definition.

So, I’d like to suggest you try StoryWeaver and see if it works for you – especially since we have a 90 day money back guarantee.  All you might lose is a little of your time, but what you might gain is a really useful tool that can open creative doorways, organize your inspirations, and lead you step by step to finishing your novel, screenplay or stage play.

You can get more details and/or purchase StoryWeaver HERE.

Need personalized story development help?

Click below to learn about my story consulting service…

Writing Stories with a “Collective” Goal

By Melanie Anne Phillips

This article is excerpted from my book, 50 Sure-Fire Storytelling Tricks!

In it, you’ll learn how some goals are not one thing everyone is after, but one kind of thing.


collective-goalSome novice writers become so wrapped up in interesting events and bits of action that they forget to have a central unifying goal that gives purpose to all the other events that take place.  This creates a plot without a core.

But determining your story’s goal can be difficult, especially if your story is character oriented, and not really about a Grand Quest.

For example, in the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” all the characters are struggling with their relationships and not working toward an apparent common purpose.  There is a goal, however, and it is to find happiness in a relationship.

This type of goal is called a “Collective Goal” since it is not about trying to achieve the same thing, but the same KIND of thing.

So don’t try to force some external, singular purpose on your story if it isn’t appropriate.  But do find the common purpose in which all your characters share a critical interest.

Need personalized story development help?

Click below to learn about my story consulting service:

A user’s email about StoryWeaver and Dramatica…

A user’s email about StoryWeaver and Dramatica:

“I want to thank you for creating StoryWeaver — and Dramatica Theory, as well. I’ve been dabbling in Dramatica and Dramatica Story Expert software for several months now. I’m so impressed with it’s applicability to my writing. While I’m a novice writer, coming to writing late in life, I’ve found DSE has improved my writing dramatically, no pun intended.

I also downloaded your StoryWeaver demo software and started using it finally last night. I’m amazed at the process you’ve created. On my first try at Stage One: Inspiration: Plot: Nonsense I developed a few little ideas; then developed more meaning in them; and then integrated the ideas together — all according to the instructions outlined in the software. The idea I came up with on the first go is so fantastic and I’m now running with it. An entire novel’s worth of ideas, all from 3 random words. Brilliant! I’m so excited to have purchased this software. It’s ability to elicit creative ideas from such a simple exercise and process is remarkable. Thank you for creating it.”

Now that was nice to read….

How to make StoryWeaver fonts larger in Windows

For most monitors, StoryWeaver text is a good, readable size in Windows.  But, on some higher resolution monitors, it can be hard to read.  While there is no font size adjustment in StoryWeaver, here is a work-around that really works!

Read all the following before trying it:

1.  Go to your control panel and in the search box, type “magnify.”

This will bring up an option to magnify the screen.  Click it and you go to a window that has windows accessibility options.  (If you hear a voice reading the screen, you can uncheck the narrator voice at the top where it says “always read this screen.”

2.  Select the box to turn magnifier on.

This will open a magnifier control window that allows you to set what will be magnified and by how much.

3.  In the “Views” menu in the magnifier box, select “full screen.”

When you do, your entire screen will magnify and you can move around by scrolling to the sides, top and bottom with your mouse.

4.  Use the “-” and “+” symbols in the magnifier box to make zoom greater or smaller.

5.  To exit magnification hold down the key with the Windows icon and the ESC key at the same time.

6.  You can pin the magnify function to your icon bar for easy access if you like.

The best part of this work-around is that you can magnify anything on your screen, not just StoryWeaver.  Give it a try and get into the details!

StoryWeaver Tip 1

StoryWeaver - Create New CardStoryWeaver has over 200 interactive story cards that lead you step by step from concept to completed story, but you can also create your own folders and cards.

Just go to the Cards menu and select New Folder or New Card.  You can even reference work you’ve done on other cards to appear on your new card!

This is useful for organizing your story ideas and research materials.  To get you started, there is already a Notes folder (see picture just below the menu in the main list) so you have a convenient place to store your information.

StoryWeaver Fix – Why Files Don’t Seem to Save

Here’s an answer to writer with a common problem of not seeing their saved work when they open StoryWeaver after saving a file.

Hi, Sue

This is Melanie, creator of StoryWeaver.

Here’s how it works. StoryWeaver saves in a proprietary compressed file format to save space on the hard drive. So, if you try to open it directly in another program like Word, all you’ll see are strange symbols because it is not a text document.

Every StoryWeaver saved file has all the questions and information, the question tree layout of the nested folders that show up on the left, and all the work you have entered. All these things are contained in every file, so when you save, you save everything, including the questions and the tree view. All a file needs is to be opened in StoryWeaver and all that material shows up.

When StoryWeaver opens, it is always with a blank file, just like Microsoft Word which opens to a blank page. In StoryWeaver’s case, a blank file has all the question text and the tree-view with all the folders and cards on the left, but no text of yours. Then, you enter your answers to the questions and save the file. If it is not working with the disc icon, try going to the File menu and selecting Save from there.

On the rare computer, the file won’t save because it things you are trying to save the actual template of questions that loads when StoryWeaver opens. It won’t allow saving changes to that template because you’ll need it pristine for future stories. So, you need to do a Save As, rather than just a Save the first time you want to save a file you are working on.

On most computers, you can just double click on the scroll file on your desktop or wherever you saved it and it will automatically open StoryWeaver and load that file. But on some computers, double-clicking directly on the file either doesn’t open StoryWeaver or in a few cases, tries to open another program instead.

That is why we suggested first opening StoryWeaver, then going to the File menu and choosing OPen to load the file from inside StoryWeaver, rather than directly by clicking on the file.

Now I had one fellow last week who had a similar problem, and out of the thousands of StoryWeavers we’ve sold, it was the first time I’d seen this particular problem. He could open files, but he couldn’t see the work he’d entered. He sent the file to me, but when I opened it, all his work was there. I sent him a screen shot so he could see for himself. He determined it was some setting on his computer.

He was running Windows 7 and so am I, so I don’t think it is the operating system in any way. Based on what you’ve said, I’m not sure if you are having the same kind of problem, but there is one thing another writer discovered. Sometimes, if you accidentally hold down the Control key or the Function key while typing, it can put an “illegal” but invisible character into the text you are writing, and that can prevent the text from being saved properly.

Other than that, I don’t know of anything that would solve your problem, but I hope this helps.


How “StoryWeaver” Came to Be

When Chris Huntley and I created the Dramatica Theory of Narrative Structure back in the early 90’s, we originally envisioned it as the end-all of story models – the one single paradigm that explained it all. In fact, it was – but only in regard to the mechanics of stories.

Although Dramatica proved amazingly popular, and the Dramatica software we designed (along with Steve Greenfield) became the best selling story structure tool ever created, I began to feel there was something missing.

In spite of (or perhaps because of) its power, depth, and accuracy Dramatica required a huge learning curve. What’s more, though writers could intuitively tune in to its truth and vision it somehow left the user cold in a passionate or creative sense.

To compensate for these issues, we eventually carried the software through three complete major versions, each seeking to make the story development process more involving and accessible. After considering the last of these efforts, I came to realize that there was only so far you could go in an attempt to turn a logical model of story structure into a warm fuzzy teddy bear of inspiration.

So began a personal eight-year journey on my part to connect with that other “touchy-feely” side of story development. What I wanted was simple – the passionate counterpart to Dramatica: a simple, easy to follow, step-by-step approach to story development that goosed the Muse and never required an author to deal directly with theory or to drop out of creative mode in order to make logistic choices. In short, I wanted to create a means by which writing would become fun, easy, powerful, and meaningful and still hold true to the structural insights of the Dramatica Theory.

The result was a whole new system of writing which I called “StoryWeaving.” StoryWeaving is just what it sounds like: the process of weaving together a story. Picture an author in front of a loom, drawing on threads of structure and passion, pulling them together into something that will ultimately be both moving and meaningful, that will capture human emotion and present it in a pattern that makes logical sense.

Authors work best not when they simply let themselves go in an aimless fashion, nor when they adhere to a strict framework of structural imperatives, but rather, they maximize the fruits of their talents when they are free to move through both worlds on a whim, drawing on such elements of structure and passion as play across their minds at any given moment.

Having devised a method of assisting authors in embracing this freedom, I designed the StoryWeaver software to transform the concept into a practical tool. Within the first year of its release, StoryWeaver came to outsell Dramatica on my online store by a margin of six to one, and outsold all other products that I carry combined!

Still, as simple and straightforward as StoryWeaver is to use, many authors craved additional details about various StoryWeaving concepts. To include that degree of depth in the software would bog down the process. So, I began a series of StoryWeaving Tips to elucidate on particular areas of interest, and to enhance the StoryWeaving path with small excursions onto creative side-streets.

This web site is a compilation of the complete collection of all of these creative writing tips to date, mixed in with tips for story structure as well.

I leave you to explore these new worlds on your own.

Melanie Anne Phillips