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Online Tools for Writers: StoryMill Reviewed

Each week, the Education Techie reviews tech tools that can help students and teachers. This week, the Techie is reviewing writing tools. Today's review: StoryMill.

storymill software box

What Is It?

StoryMill is a downloadable program designed for novel writing. The software is available for purchase from its developers, Mariner Software, for $49.95. The company offers a free trial of StoryMill, allowing you to download and use all of the program's features. The trial's limitation is that you are only allowed to start the program 30 times before you must pay for registration.

screenshot, storymill chapter writing

Elements of your writing can be organized into 'views,' which are folders that you can divide into categories like chapters, characters, scene settings and research. These are displayed in a sidebar on the left of the screen. The central pane is called the meta-data pane, and what is displayed here depends on which view you've selected. For example, if you click on your character folder, your characters and associated notes are listed; if you click on the chapters folder, a word processor is displayed.

The word processor gives users control over formatting and font appearance. You can insert lists, control line spacing and add annotations. Users can also change the status of characters and chapters using labels like first draft, needs work, unfinished and final draft. Individuals are also given options for different ways of writing. For example, you can write a story in chapters or in scenes. You can also write in English, French, German or Italian.

What Makes It Cool?

In addition to a downloadable PDF help manual, the StoryMill website features in-depth video tutorials. Detailed instructions help writers get started. The program itself is cleanly designed with a user-friendly interface. There's also an option to enter a full-screen mode if you want to leave the menus and toolbars of the main window behind.

StoryMill also has some unique features that are pretty cool. One is a progress meter that can help you set goals for writing sessions and track writing gains as you go. You can set objectives based on elapsed time or completed writing. There's also a timeline feature that allows you to map out events that occur in your writing. This can be especially helpful if a story unfolds in a non-linear way.

What Are Its Drawbacks?

To run the current version of StoryMill, you need a computer operating on Mac OSX 10.5 or higher. The machine must also have a G4 processor. This kind of limited compatibility was common among the writing products I reviewed for this series.

Where Can I Find It?

Visit the Mariner Software website to access a trial download of StoryMill and view the video tutorials.

This is the sixth and final review in a series on writing tools. Previously, the Techie reviewed Scrivener, WriteWay, PageFour, Ulysses and Jer's Novel Writer. The Education Techie will continue to review educational tools in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more!