So, you just decided you’d write yourself a new story, bought a shiny new copy of Plottr to help you plan it out, and you’re ready to spend the next six months of your life writing, lamenting, and patting yourself on the back for your genius ideas. But wait! You’re now looking at not only a blank page, but an empty Plottr window, and you’ve never used Plottr before! Well, in the words of some stereotypical superhero, never fear! We’re here to help, and by the end of this primer, you will discover that Plottr is incredibly intuitive and simple to use! Soon, we’ll have you writing your next masterpiece, and you’ll actually have a plan in place to keep you going in the right direction.
Let’s get started.
If this is your first time opening Plottr, the app will display a tour project to give you a feel of how Plottr works. The tour project has pre-made cards that guide you in interacting with the interface.
Creating a New File
Once you have a feel for what a Plottr project looks like, it’s time to dive into your project and make the magic happen! Go to the File menu at the top of your screen and click “New...” Now you can choose a folder location and a clever name for your project. Once you’re satisfied with the name and location, click save and you should be at the dreaded blank project screen writers fear so much. Let’s hurry and fill it in so we’re not scared anymore!
The Timeline is the default view and star attraction of Plottr. Here, you will be able to visually create and look over the timeline/storyline of your story, as well as any subplots or story arcs you can think of.
As you can see, the Timeline is useful for keeping track of the events and characters in your story in relation to other arcs. This is one key feature of Plottr that makes it so great for planning out a story! All your story and character arcs can be placed alongside each other, so you can weave the best possible story with fewer plot holes.
For example, you might have a timeline for the villain’s story arc that helps you keep track of who he’s murdering behind the scenes while your protagonist just entered the pub to ask for a lemonade.
All of that cool stuff can be done through adding Scenes, storylines, and cards to the Timeline.
The Main Plot storyline should already be in the new project, as well as Scene 1 and an empty card. See below:
Storylines run alongside the right side of the screen in default view and represent a story arc, plotline or timeline.
Scenes are columns representing scenes. You can use them as chapter headings too!
Cards are where you add details and information for the scene and storyline.
The Timeline toolbar is loaded with useful buttons to help you navigate and sort through your Timeline information.
You can filter cards by characters, places, and/or tags (more on that in a moment).
You can also flip the orientation of your timeline. Sometimes it’s easier to see more of your story with a vertical orientation, especially when you start really adding on scenes.
Zooming and scaling the timeline is also a thing. You can also scroll faster using the scrolling tools.
Finally, there is a tool for exporting your project to Microsoft Word in .docx format. This will take your Outline and allow you to work on it outside of Plottr or print it out for a hard copy.
Adding a Card, Scene, or Storyline
To add a scene or storyline to your Timeline, simply hover your mouse over an empty scene or storyline location on your timeline and click on the plus icon that appears.
Similarly, you can add Cards to scenes and storylines by hovering your mouse over an empty location and clicking. A card outline will appear where you are able to add new cards. The card edit screen pops up when you add a new card, and here you can assign it a new line or scene, add tags, characters, and places involved in the card, and write up a description.
The Outline allows you to see all your scenes in a neat outline view in sequential order. You can see all your storylines and cards grouped together by scene to form a coherent outline of your whole story.
You can filter your scenes by storyline as well, if you just wanted to see the details on say, your romance subplot storyline.
Each scene in the left hand scene list shows a colored box for each storyline that has a card in that scene. Clicking on these scenes will also navigate you to that scene on the Outline. Pretty neat!
The Notes tab allows you to create note entries, and assign characters, places, and tags relevant to these notes to each entry. You might use notes to just brainstorm, or to do some extra details on your story, maybe talk about your magic system or plan out a murder mystery here.
The Characters tab allows you to keep track of your characters and write up details of them. You can give them a name, a description, and add some notes about them here. Also, you can see what notes and stuff they are attached to.
Finally, you can click the Custom Attributes button to add special attributes to track about your character, such as age, or race, or even eye color or magical affinity!
On the Places tab, you can track the places in your story. Just like in the Characters tab, you can add a name, a description, and some notes. You can also see what cards and notes your places areassigned to. You can add Custom Attributes to Places as well.
Sometimes, you want to track things in your story other than jut Character and Places. Maybe you want to have a tag that shows which scene is your midpoint or your hook. That’s what tags are for, and like characters and places, they can be attached to cards and notes.
That about covers it. Hopefully this primer has been helpful in familiarizing you with Plottr and you can see how it might help you visualize your story. The rest is now up to you. If you’d like a video overview of Plottr, we have you covered:
On behalf of the Plottr team, I wish you good luck and happy writing! We hope to hear from you about how Plottr has helped you, so drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/plottrapp!