capsule review

Subplot helps writers focus on characters, plot

At a Glance
  • AFK Creative Subplot 1.0.2

    Macworld Rating

Anyone who has sat down to try and write a story can tell you that the actual writing is the most daunting thing about the writing process. One of the best ways to overcome writer’s block is to plan your story and your characters. Subplot is designed to help you do just that, so you have more time to focus on writing.

Subplot isn't a word processor-type program. It's designed to be used with your choice of writing software, be it Word ( ), Pages ( ), Scrivener ( ), or some other program. Subplot is one writing program in which you don’t actually write your story. Instead, Subplot acts as a sort of outline, a point of reference for your story.

Subplot rewards careful planning by forcing you to outline each character, their arc throughout the story, and even their locations in each chapter. While it may sound daunting, Subplot makes following your own story much easier, thus allowing you to write within the structure you’ve created yourself.

One of the first things I did while testing Subplot was list all my characters, the locations in my story, several key props, and my expected word count. As I updated my word count each week, Subplot told me whether I would meet or miss my defined deadline. Subplot also tracks when characters first enter your story or meet each other, an especially useful tool given how difficult it can be to outline a story while you write it.

I found that Subplot make organizing my story easier the more time I spent with the program. Users can just sketch out a basic outline or character biography, but Subplot lends itself to going more in-depth with characters and plot points.

While Subplot offers a variety of options for authors, it does leave something to be desired in a few minor areas. One of the most frustrating aspects of Subplot is that, while it gives users a variety of options, the included templates cannot be edited. For example, when you add a new character, you assign a template for that character (i.e., protagonist, antagonist, sidekick, etc). It would be nice if users could add their own templates to the list, especially given that each template is essentially nothing more than a name for an archetype. Also, while large sections of Subplot are editable, many are editable only as simple text boxes. Again, it would be preferable if users could do more than simply write on these screens.

Macworld’s buying advice

Subplot can be a writer’s best friend. It offers an easy way to organize your stories and provides a valuable tool for any writer. Subplot is unlike most writing applications, but that is largely what makes it stand out.

[Brendan Wilhide is a frequent Macworld contributor. He completed NaNoWriMo 2008, albeit not well.]

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Good tools to keep stories organized

    Cons

    • Can't modify templates
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