Plot of Gold 30 day Challenge
Blogging has taken a back seat these past few weeks as I’ve been taking part in the Plot of Gold 30 day Novel Outline Challenge run by the lovely guys from Pro-writing Aid and Beemgee plot outlining software.
I’ve had a new idea for a story all summer, so the challenge seemed a good way of getting it down. And now I have a working outline. Yay!
Plotting has always been a problem for me. I think I’ve done a good plan, but, when I actually get down to writing, I discover it was more of a wish list. I’ve tried using spreadsheets and even bought a corkboard and some cards. None of these worked for me. (Especially the corkboard because it was so messy!) And if I write without a plan, I either a) write myself into a corner from which there is no escape or b) spend months untangling the mess I made. This challenge has forced me to think about the story and identify plot holes before I type a word. Which has to be a good thing.
Beemgee plot outlining software
The Beemgee software was fun to work with. There is a free version and a Premium versions which has more funtionality. However, the Plot of Gold Challenge included a free trial of the Premium edition, so that is what I used.
There are three screens: character, plot and step-outline.
The Character Screen
The character development questions are really in-depth. There are a few extra questions in the Premium version, but there are probably enough in the free one to flesh out most of your characters. I filled in the questions for my protagonist and antagonist and even some of the minor people in the story, (because who doesn’t like filling in pretty boxes?) and it got me thinking about their motivations etc in a concrete way.
One minor peeve was that when you were looking at the overview of all your characters, the list of questions, goal, task, action etc, didn’t line up with your answers, which got confusing at times.
The Plot Screen
You create plot cards which you can re-order as necessary by simply dragging them around. Cards can be tagged with storylines and characters involved in the scene, and in the Premium version there are other interesting tags like motifs and point of view. There’s also space to write a short description of the events on the card which can be read in the step outine screen.
The plot screen was very intuitive with the exception of one thing. The tags are listed down the left hand side. You could click to turn them on and off but to write in them on your plot card you click a little pen icon in the corner. You then got a dropdown. So far so good. But to choose one you have to actually click under the plot card. This probably sounds obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I activated the dropdown list, ‘chose the one I wanted on the left hand list, and then wondered why it hadn’t worked on the plotcards.
One feature I particularly liked is the ability to ‘filter’ the plot cards. Say you want to see all the plot events that have a specific character or storyline in. When you’re in plot screen there’s a filter tab along the top. You tell it what you want it to search for, and it only shows you cards with that character or storyline in. Genius.
The Step-outline and exporting
Exporting reports were great and really customisable.
- Want character notes? Save them out.
- Want the whole project? Just takes one click.
I particularly loved the step-outline which meant I could read the notes like a story. The files were very pretty to look at and I liked them a lot, however, they only export as pdf files. It would be useful you could export as word docs so you could edit them. Also there isn’t a way to export to Scrivener, and that would have been good too.
This is an internet based software, so it relies on a good connection speed. And I live in an internet blackspot. This only seemed to cause a problem in the later stages when I had a lot of plot cards and the webpage locked up. Even then, I couldn’t be sure that’s what the problem was. A reboot of my computer seemed to fix it.
The project file auto-saves itself, so there was no danger of computer glitches where you lose all your work. However, an ‘undo’ button might have been a good idea at times.
I enjoyed using Beemgee and am pleased with the outline I created. Looking on the website, there are a whole lot more exciting features planned for the software which will make it even more useful. The free version is perfectly functional, although at 59 Euro’s a year, the Premium version is not expensive. I will definitely be continuing to use it.
Have you tried Beemgee? Or any other plotting software? Let me know in the comments 🙂