Writing a great fiction piece is a difficult task; bestsellers don’t just fall from the sky; they are products of an intricate process involving thorough planning and outlining.
That’s how and why outlining tools like Plottr have become indispensable tools in the 21st-writer’s arsenal. These outlining tools are designed to make the planning phase of writing a novel just a little bit easier.
Plottr leans towards fiction; it’s very obvious.
However, as you will or might already have discovered, no single tool can be so versatile enough to cover all genres or carry you through the entire creative process.
You’ll also find out that nonfiction writers will fall in love with tools that are a bit different from those that fiction writers like.
Bottom line? No tool can be for all and sundry.
After thorough research, I decided to cover Plottr and write a 360-degree review to help you determine if it’s the one for you or not.
First, take a look at Plottr’s pros and cons.
- Offers a 30-day trial: you have ample time to try out the software before making a purchase.
- Easy to use: although it comes with features that are relatively less complicated, Plottr offers a helpful free Video Course to help you master the tool.
- Comes with Helpful Templates: with Plottr, you can choose to plot using one of the already made templates—Action Adventure Plot, Jami Gold Romance, Take Off Your Pants, Victor Pineiro Screenplay, etc. This feature comes in handy when it’s your first time creating a novel or when you have not previously used tools like Plottr to outline your novel.
- Can Be Used with Word & Scrivener: once you export the outline and all your notes to a doc file format. You can import the doc to Scrivener.
- Plottr provides a comprehensive overview of your storyline.
- It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac.
- It has no writing area: if you want to write your draft, you have to use another app because Plottr doesn’t have an option for typing directly into the software.
- The app gets stuck a few times: you might have to restart the app (a couple of times) to continue working on it.
Plottr Overview: What Is It, And Who Is It for?
Plottr is a visual book planning software for writers, principally designed for fiction writers. It’s software that enables you to create a clear overview of your story—from chapters to plots, characters, et cetera. This visual outlining tool was built (‘by writers for writers’) to help you reduce the hassles that you encounter when creating a plan to write your book.
Plottr doesn’t provide a section or area which you can use to write your draft, but once you make your outline in Plottr, you can export it and use it as an overarching plan for your draft writing stage.
Plottr was designed for both seasoned and aspiring writers for all sorts of writing projects—screenwriting, playwriting, academic paper writing, article writing, essays, etc.
How Much Does Plottr Cost?
Plottr offers a 30-day free trial with which you can access all of the tool’s features. If you’re hooked, you have the yearly and lifetime payment options. The two plans are further divided into separate Mac and Windows licenses and a bundled plan that includes both Mac and Windows licenses.
Annual Pricing Plans
- Mac: $25
- Windows: $25
- Bundle: $37
- Mac: $99
- Windows: $99
- Bundle: $147
When your license expires, the version of Plottr that you are using at that time will still be accessible. But, you won’t be able to download updates and bug fixes unless you renew your license.
What Devices Can I Use Plottr On?
Plottr is available as an app for Windows, Mac, iOS (iPhone and iPad), and Android (all android phones and tablets). There are plans to release a Linux and web app this year.
Users can also back up and share their files using 3rd-party storage services like Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, so if you have the “bundle” license, you can access the project on both PC and Mac using the cloud drives.
Does Outlining Software Really Help?
Outlining software has formed an integral part of the plotting processes of most established writers in the 21st century. Randy Ingermanson (physicist, writer, and inventor of the snowflake writing method) and Donna Alward (NY times bestselling author) would bear me witness.
Not only does outlining software improve productivity and speed up the book creating process, but they also help writers focus their efforts on creativity when writing their drafts—a lot of elements of your book are taken care of (using the outlining tools) before you start writing the actual draft.
Plottr Software Review: Features and How to Use Them
The tool’s features can be divided into four categories: Story Bibles, Visual Timelines, Templates, and other Handy Features.
Plottr Software Features
Plottr has simple and easy-to-use visual timelines, allowing you to create captivating plots and organize them by dragging and dropping the plot cards. With such ease of use, you’re able to outline your book better and faster than you usually would.
The visual timelines are arranged in a way that looks like a digital corkboard, packed with your story’s scenes, storylines, and cards.
Plottr also lets you filter the timelines using different criteria to help you dissect the events, where they are happening, and which character is involved. Plus, you can add different colors to plots to distinguish them.
Writers who write their drafts using longhand sometimes use index cards to keep track of their characters and places.
However, with Plottr, you can visually organize your characters and places, link them to your scenes, and add attributes to keep track of all the necessary details about your characters and places.
Plottr lets you create 3-dimensional characters and places; you can craft an in-depth character bio and detail important features of the locations in your story.
You can also add images of your characters and places, or images that inspired your story.
If you are writing a book series, you can make timelines and outlines for both the series and for each individual book.
Plottr comes with a whole list of plot templates (14 templates, for now) that you can use to create your plot based on the storytelling structure that you want to adopt.
This way, you don’t have to start from scratch. The templates also come in handy when it’s your first planning and writing a novel.
And all you have to do is click the ‘File’ tab and then select ‘New from Template,’ and the app will give you a bunch of starter templates. Here is the full list of the templates that are currently available:
- Action Adventure Plot
- Jami Gold Romance
- Take Off Your Pants
- Victor Pineiro Screenplay
- 8 Sequences Method
- Billy Mernit Romance Seven Beats
- Hero’s Journey
- 7 Point Plot Structure
- 12 Chapter Mystery Formula
- Dan Harmon’s Story Circle
- Michael Hauge Six Stage
- Shonen Battle Manga Formula
- Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
Export to Word & Scrivener
When you are done plotting, that’s when the real fun starts. With Plottr, it’s easy to export your project files and start the real work—initiate the creative genius in you.
Plottr lets you export your outline to MS Word & Scrivener fast and without any hassle. You can then use the outline that you’ve created to guide your manuscript.
Other Essential Features
Auto-save: When you plot in Plottr, your work is automatically saved. You can also back up your work with Dropbox, iCloud, G-Drive, and other cloud storage options. This means that you rarely lose your files.
A Free Video Course: Plot has a free video course with video tutorials demonstrating how Plottr’s features work.
Character Templates: Apart from the plot templates, Plottr also comes with character templates that can be used to create characters from various established character sheets or templates that you create on your own. The character templates include:
- Character Bio
- Birth Order
- Myers-Briggs Type
- Goal, Motivation, Conflict
- Cognitive Distortions
In addition to these features, there is a Scrivener syncing feature in the works.
How Do You Use Plottr?
Using this outlining tool is simple and straightforward; plus, you can utilize the video course to master the tool.
I already mentioned that the app is available on all popular platforms (except Linux, for now), but as of now, I have only gotten access to the one on Windows. Anyway, I don’t think there are any major differences with the apps.
Plotting with Templates
This is the easier and quicker way of plotting with Plottr. If it’s your first time plotting and writing a novel (or using a software tool to outline), the templates are probably what you should use first.
To use the templates, you just click the ‘File’ tab and choose ‘New from Template.’ Then you are provided a list of plot templates you can choose from.
If you are a newbie, you’re probably going to be unaware of the plotting methods used to create the templates, but your work will still have a professional touch since the templates were—in all likelihood—made by seasoned writers.
Plotting without Templates
Plottr comes with a plotting template for every genre, but in case you need something—for lack of a better term—more multifarious, or maybe you just want to plot from scratch, you’re more than free to do so.
Plottr realizes that by not giving the user the power to customize their plotting process, they are robbing him/her of the power to create.
So, Plottr allows you to flex your creative genius as you craft plot lines, subplots, and chapters.
Without templates, all the power to customize is handed to you. You can recolor plot and subplot lines, add a card, or rearrange a sub-plot or a chapter—whatever you want to do, within the range of the software’s capabilities.
And it’s good to have fun plotting, especially with a tool you’ve paid for, right?
Once you start tweaking things, you’ll understand why Plottr prides itself as the easiest and most convenient book planning tool available. To add details, you simply click on the card and you’re furnished with a page that enables you to input text, images, tags, etc.
When you have mastered Plottr, plotting is fun and easy, with or without the already made templates.
Exporting and Using the Outline
The last step is getting the outline out of Plottr, ready to be used for crafting a potential bestseller in Scrivener, MS Word, or any other tool of your liking.
As of now, importing the outline as a doc file is the only option, but it shouldn’t be long before we have a direct Plottr-Scrivener syncing feature—as per Plottr’s promises.
Is Plottr Right for You?
Well… If you’ve been searching for a plotting tool that lets you tailor-make your outlining process whilst alternatively giving you professionally made templates, Plottr is the right choice for you. If for some reason you have been using paid tools like Scrivener to plot your book but write your draft in a different word processing app, you can try Plottr instead. After all, it has a simpler and cleaner UI and is easier to use.
You could use both Scrivener and Plottr at the same time—Plottr allows you to export your project to third-party apps, including Scrivener.
So what’s the bottom line? Is it or is it not the right tool? My concise and clear answer would be that Plottr is right for you if you are looking for a simple and easy to use plotting software that lets you custom-make your plots or use already made guidelines and gives you some freedom to move your project between it and other tools like Scrivener, Word, Google Docs.
I like Plottr, I do. I just think it’d be better if they built a writing section—some sort of a word processor.
However, I still believe that it’s the best there is.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Napoleon Hill that I snatched on Plottr’s homepage,
“Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan.”