StoryBilder: where the plot thickens
The ultimate creative writing platform packed full with plot visualizers, structural and organizational tools for writers of all levels
StoryBilder: where the plot thickens
The ultimate creative writing platform packed full with plot visualizers, structural and organizational tools for writers of all levels
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, May 10 2019 3:55 AM UTC +00:00.
"Flipping phenomenal!" - Amanda Sun, author of The Paper Gods series and Heir to the Sky
StoryBilder: Tools and Blueprints to Bring Your Story to Life
Have you ever wanted to write a novel but didn’t know where to start? Maybe you had a great idea but no clue how to turn it into a compelling storyline. What about all those characters and locations and plot points to keep track of? We get it. Blank pages are scary. Unfocused ideas are even worse. Getting stuck in the middle after doing all that work is the worst.
Are you new to writing but have a story idea you want to explore?
Are you a writer who has trouble keeping track of your notes, characters, locations, and all the thousands of details that go into making your story work?
Are you a teacher or parent looking for innovative ways to help your students learn how to write, using tools that help them understand how stories work ?
Welcome to StoryBilder!
StoryBilder is a creative writing platform that stimulates your imagination and supports you where you need it ... We make writing interactive, collaborative, and, most of all, fun.
Whether you need help making that dream novel happen, want to collaborate with your friends, or just need a solid platform to keep track of your stories, StoryBilder has the tools you need to bring the novel you always wanted to write to life.
"StoryBilder is a power tool for narrative construction." - Paul Chafe, bestselling author of Destiny's Forge and the Ark Trilogy
So, how does it work?
StoryBilder has three basic parts.
- Keeping Track of All the Bits (Organization)
- Putting It All Together (Outlines and Structure)
- Worldbuilding With the World (Creativity and Collaboration Tools)
Keeping Track of All the Bits
At its core, StoryBilder is an organizational tool set that helps you keeps track of all the many parts of your story. You can:
- Build profiles for your characters and reference them as you write.
- Create cities and places with their own histories and laws.
- Write your story systematically, if that’s the sort of writer you are; or in pieces, if you prefer.
Putting It All Together
If you need help or are new to writing, the StoryEngine mode will take you through the whole process from Once upon a time to The End.
We’ll give you hints and ideas to help guide your story and fill in missing plot gaps.
Charts, Graphs, and Maps help you keep track of where your characters are, and how they interact with each other.
Worldbuild with the World
The StoryBilder library comes stocked with outlines, characters and maps from literary classics, which you can use in your stories however you like.
Have a character or a world you’re proud of? Share them with the library and watch as other people write stories that use your characters in their worlds or create whole new stories in the worlds you have created. See something in the library you like? Go ahead, borrow it!
Collaborate – Mashup – Invent
That’s just for starters. Users can also share their own characters, worlds, and outlines with other users. That means you can borrow and share with your friends or strangers. Want to write a story set in someone else’s world? Borrow their location package, add your own characters and see what happens. Or borrow a character or two you like and add them to your story. Sharing is completely optional too, so if you want to keep your stuff private or just want to share with a few close friends, that’s perfectly OK too.
We've been asked to elaborate on the many features and tools that come with StoryBilder, so while we don't have time to whip up a fancy explainer video for you right now, here are some of the bells and whistles that come with the platform:
Build your story using one of the outlines we provide as a baseline. Our outlines come with recommendations that tell you what sort of action is expected at any given point. You can choose to follow along or change it up any way you like. Or pick a blank outline and create your own from scratch.
StoryBilder comes preset with outlines based on basic story structures, such as Quest, Man vs Monster, Rags to Riches, Romance, Comedy, and more. If you're looking for something more specific, visit the Library, where you can borrow outlines based on classic literature...and then change them up any way you want.
When you create a character, StoryBilder automatically creates a profile page for them, which you can customize and edit as you need.
It also comes loaded with an optional CharacterBilder tool, which offers language suggestions to help you decide what they look like, and there's a tone slider that helps you find words that are more or less flattering, depending on how you want them to be portrayed.
You can also borrow literary characters from the Library and change them up. Take the Hamlet profile and make him a girl. Turn Frankenstein into an iguana. We don't care. They're yours to play with.
StoryBilder lets you plug in location coordinates (currently Earthbound, but we're working on fictional spaces) which pull up maps of the area, so you can see where your characters are, and how they need to get to where they're going.
In the Library, you'll find preset maps relating to a wide range of classics, including Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, Victorian Gothic and Jane Austen, and that's just to start.
Tying It All Together:
StoryBilder comes packed with tons of charts, interactive maps, and reports to help keep your story on track. You can check your current outline progress against standard formats to see how yours compares (and you're welcome to make changes, if that's what your story needs), Trackers let you associate everything from characters to locations to plot elements and moods, so you can see where your characters interact with each other, where they are on your maps in each chapter, and how their moods compare to the plot outline.
When you make changes to a scene, character or place, we'll flag the scenes where they appear, so you can go through systematically and make sure your corrections are consistent.
And there's a lot more coming, but we need your support to get there.
"I LOVE this. It is really exciting with enormous pedagogical potential for literature professors." - Professor Louise Geddes, Associate Professor, English Dept. Adelphi University
StoryBilder for Schools
Though we’re working to develop school-specific features like grading systems and customized lesson plans, you and your students can jump in and start exploring right away. At launch, you’ll be able to:
- Assign preset outlines and character sets for creative writing projects
- Reverse-engineer books you’re reading in the classroom by plugging their parts into StoryBilder. Deconstruct story structures and compare them to archetypal outlines and use charts and maps to talk about plot and character development
- Mashup literary characters and maps from the library and let students create their own fanfiction
For example, English and drama teachers who remember The Poor Yorick Shakespeare Catalogue (see Founder’s bio, below) will be happy to hear that we’re including a dedicated Shakespeare resource library for StoryBilder. Our platform can be used to deconstruct the plays to learn about plot, character and dramatic structure. Or mix and match characters and outlines from several plays and let students write their own narratives. Romeo and Juliet fanfiction, A Midsummer Night’s Dream rewritten as a tragedy, Hamlet meets Macbeth, the possibilities are endless.
And it doesn’t end with Shakespeare. Jane Austen World, the Sherlock Zone, characters, maps and outlines from Victorian gothic horror – these are just some of the libraries we are currently developing. Want to write about Sherlock Holmes in Shakespeare’s London? Sure, why not. Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster have tea at Pemberley? Go for it!
StoryBilder: Our Story So Far
Here’s the good news, we’ve been working on StoryBilder for three years. We could have come to Kickstarter then, but we didn't feel it was fair to ask you to wait while we figured out what we were doing. So we took the time to plan and develop the platform on our own, until we knew it was right. How do we know we nailed it? Well, when we show it to people now, they get what we call "The Look." It's that look of wonder and excitement that happens when they get what it can do for them. We've seen it on the faces of high school and university professors, professional and semi-professional writers, screenwriters and directors. And we've seen it on the faces of our friends who have always been afraid of writing, but suddenly see how they can get it done.
Is the platform perfect? Well, no, but the main framework is in place, and the core system works from end to end. The primary tools are all done, and while we'll continue improving and building new features, it's clear we're nearly ready for prime time. That's why we need your help now. We need a bit of cash to get us over the finish line, and subscribers to come play with us when it's done.
What’s Left to Do?
1) Spiffy up the Tools:
Most of the functionality is already done, but some of the tools need to be automated and/or cleaned up to make them easier to use. We’ll need more experienced coders with some magic sauce to transform these parts into the interfaces you deserve.
2) Privacy Audit & QA Review:
We’ll need someone not close to the project to push all the buttons and see what they can break, so we can fix things before we go public.
3) Freshen up the Graphics and Smarten up the Design
Right now, most of the pieces are where they’re supposed to be, but speaking as a girl who owns two pairs of shoes and lives in t-shirts and jeans, the décor could use a professional touch. If we exceed our fundraising goal, we’ll be hiring someone to clean up and standardize the platform’s overall look and feel, to make our sandbox a delight to play in.
Speaking of which, if you have skills that fit any of these needs, please drop us your details on our careers page. We’d prefer applicants from the Greater Toronto Area for the moment, so if you live elsewhere, hang on until we post otherwise.
Graphics people: please have experience in either corporate or gaming design. Experience redesigning large websites in Drupal will put you at the top of our list.
What We’re Going to Do With the Money
If funded, this is where it’s going to go (in order of importance):
- Developer Costs
- Graphics Design/UX
If we exceed our goals, we'll focus on hiring additional developers and graphic designers, so we can accelerate new features. We'll also prioritize building app versions that can be used both with mobile and offline.
CODE AND CONTENT CLEAN UP From May 15, 2019 – 3 to 6 months: plus additional development if we hit appropriate stretch goals. We won't let bonus features hold us up, though. Priority will be on testing and securing the site. We can always keep adding features as we go - we won't keep you waiting in limbo indefinitely. Right now, we don't think we'll need more than three months to get there, but we do know that tech happens, and we're leaving a bit of padding, just in case.
PREVIEW TESTING From August or September 2019 (give or take) – 3 to 6 months: Preview testing. Kickstarter patrons will gain exclusive beta access months before our official launch. Expect invitations to go out in stages, depending on your contribution level. We're staggering access to make it easier for us to keep up with random issues, and to make sure our servers don't get overloaded until they're properly tested.
OFFICIAL (Public) LAUNCH January 2020 (give or take): Just in time to say Happy New Year! We'd like to be live in time to start testing in second semester classrooms in 2020. In the off-chance we’re running behind schedule, our Kickstarter supporters will continue to have full access to the preview site, so you’ll get extra time before your official Kickstarter subscription begins.
And If We Exceed Our Goals…
We’ll use our stretch goal funds to bring you some exciting new features. Some of the key features we want to prioritize include:
- Mobile-friendly interface and/or App
- Multi-user/Collaboration tools
- Increased funds to our Adopt-a-School program
Watch this space for further announcements. We’ll be asking you for your wish lists once we’re funded, and donors will be invited to vote for their favorites with a chance to win prizes along the way.
Sponsor or Nominate a Class
Do you know a disadvantaged public school class that could use our tools but can’t afford them?
Nominate them HERE. StoryBilder will donate free annual subscriptions to classrooms that exhibit the greatest need. We'll start with one-year subscriptions to 10 classrooms at launch, and we expect this number to grow as we do.
Have a class you want to give StoryBilder to, right here, right now? We have rewards for that. You can let us pick a school from our general list or select your own. We'll need to know what school it’s for, the teacher’s name, and their contact information so we can give them the good news. Just be sure to check with them first to make sure it fits with their curriculum.
About Our Founder:
Hi, I’m Tanya. I live at the intersection of story and technology. This is my story.
Chapter One: Once Upon a Time
Story has always been important to me. When I was a kid, I filled volumes of black and white composition notebooks with stories and poems. I was banned from participating from the local children’s library summer reading challenge after I buried the board in the paper animals I earned one year. I've got two degrees in English literature, taught English in Japan for four years, and worked with the Internet Shakespeare Editions for a summer before moving to Stratford, Ontario to open a CD & video store named Poor Yorick. That store expanded quickly into an online Shakespeare specialty catalog with customers in 42 countries around the world.
Chapter Two: Evolution
Then Napster and YouTube and Netflix happened, so when people talk about digital disruption, I know exactly what they mean. But building my catalog placed me at the birth of eCommerce, content management and social media. When our online catalog first launched, an “internet store” was a hard-coded HTML page with an ordering form you printed and mailed in. By the time we closed in 2007, eCommerce had evolved into dynamic content and full blown CMS systems. So I taught myself php and .asp to manage our dynamic website and ordering systems, and soon I could code HTML and CSS in my sleep. I also learned the now defunct VisualBasic to write custom modules for our Point of Sale system, which naturally led me to .NET. It soon became clear that my small, independent retail operation just didn’t have the necessary resources to compete with online streaming, and pivoting wasn’t feasible after spending the past 10 years building it up from scratch. It was time to move on. And so I took the technology skills and experience from my shop and I became a content manager. As it turned out, I had developed a unique skill set: on one hand, my degrees in English Literature meant I understood story; on another, my catalog-building experience, coupled with the process-oriented brain I was born with, helped me understand how information flows and fits together. Throw a bunch of practical retail and marketing experience on top, and I was ready to go. I took my skills to Research in Motion (now BlackBerry), Harris Broadcasting, Shoppers Drug Mart, and then to some marketing agency firms before branding out on my own. As a freelancer, I’ve had the opportunity to work in government, startup technology, eCommerce, international law, healthcare, and more.
Chapter Three: Revolution
If I live at the intersection of story and data, then StoryBilder is the picnic island right in the middle of that crosswalk. My teacher brain wants to help you learn to write and become better at it. My content management brain wants to help you get better at organizing your ideas. My literary side wants to help you imagine worlds you didn’t even know exist inside of you, while the social media part of me wants to make writing fun and strip away the isolation that turns a lot of people away from the craft.
This is StoryBilder. Writers Welcome.
Risks and challenges
We didn't feel it was right to take your money and make you wait, and we've worked hard to make sure you didn't have to. StoryBilder is now nearly finished, so all we need to do now is tie up a few loose ends and clean house before company arrives. You're not signing on for a promise in the future. It's here now, and your contributions will make sure it's truly amazing. We've already put years of hard work into this project, so you know we're serious about it; and we've done it without funding, so you know we're not going to waste your money.
It took us this long to get here because StoryBilder really is three different things: a guided writing system for those who need it, an open-ended organizational toolset for those who don't, and a shareable asset library. We could have easily launched when any one of those parts was done, but we believe it's the full, integrated experience that gives you the best bang for your buck. And based on the responses we've received from teachers and writers alike, we think we got it right.
We've tried to keep our ask low enough to be achievable, but high enough to make sure we have room to evolve and offer adequate support once we're live. And, if we exceed our goals, we'll be able to accelerate a bunch of new features, like advanced collaboration capabilities, next generation interactive charts and mapping, and apps so you can take StoryBilder with you wherever you go.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- All gone!