by Thomas Kane
contributing writer for MILLENNIUM,
F & SF, and OMNI Magazine

When the opportunity first arose for me to try out POWER STRUCTURE, my first thought was, "Oh, God, not another software program to help lazy writers."

After all, I'd used DRAMATICA PRO 4.0, JOHN TRUBY'S BLOCKBUSTER, STORYVIEW 1.0, STORYCRAFT 3.0, INSPIRATION 6.0, and WRITER'S BLOCKS.  In fact, if it was listed as being designed to help the "creative writer," I probably had it.

And yet, when all was said and done, none of the products I had were precisely what I was looking for.  I wanted a tool that would assist me without overwhelming me, an outlining device that would be simple to use and even simpler to learn, a program that would let me tell the story the way I wanted to tell the story.  While each of them had a useful feature here and there, none of them were right for what I wanted.

As a writer, I knew the story.  I knew my characters, I knew my settings, I knew my plot.  I had my theme in mind.  I had everything I needed, actually.  All I lacked was something that would help me organize my thoughts quickly, efficiently, and reliably.

Enter POWER STRUCTURE.

POWER STRUCTURE takes your story, and gives you room to run with it.  It allows you to go into the "Terminology" area and define your story the way you want.  If you hate the word "hero," change it to "protagonist."  If you hate the word "protagonist," change it to "main character."  Once you change it in the "Terminology" arena, it will remain changed throughout the rest of the program. 

This way, if you enjoy the Dramatica terms, your program will reflect that, or if you're a Truby believer, this will work it for you that way.  When you think about it, that's pretty impressive.  It allows POWER STRUCTURE to be customized for Dramatica people, Truby people, and any other method out there.  (When I write, I use "floors," as in a building.  Most of my projects are "three-story" buildings.  POWER STRUCTURE allows me to go to the First Floor of my novel, the Second Floor, or the Third Floor.  This allows me to develop the story that way I feel most comfortable, without having to learn any new terminology.)  The writer can literally customize this program any way that he sees fit.

POWER STRUCTURE excels in the "Conflict" department.  Each scene allows you to define where the conflict is, how much tension the conflict creatures, and whether or not the conflict is resolved.  You can then switch over to the "Conflict Overview" area and see your conflicts charted out on a graph, so that low points can easily be spotted and dealt with.  As a writer who has had more than my share of "sagging middles," that feature is invaluable.

One of my weakest areas is my habit of introducing a character and forgetting about him or her.  They'll show up in five or six scenes, depart, and I'll lose sight of them.  POWER STRUCTURE allows me to send someone off scene, and keep track of them by using the "Must Have" feature. That way, when Eddie is sent away for a few days, I can place a "Must Have" note to myself that reminds me that Eddie has to be accounted for in some way.  I can then place that note in a little box that can be checked off when Eddie is accounted for.  This feature also works wonderfully with endings.  If you write your ending first (as myself and many writers do), you can have several "Must Have" points available to remind you to get to that ending.  In this way, POWER STRUCTURE assists you, rather than restricts you.

For example, let's say that my ending has George as the killer.  My "Must Haves" might look like this:

With my "Must Haves" available at all times, I can stay on track, and with a simple checking of the various conflicts in each scene, I can make sure that conflict rises and falls as it needs to, without any sagging portions.

Another great feature is the electronic index card view available. 

You can have each scene on a small index card on your screen, and you can then play with the various positions of the cards.  If a scene in the middle of the work should go towards the beginning, a simple "drag and drop" rearranges everything.  Since all creativity is an organic process, constantly evolving, that feature is a godsend.

As a writer who has learned my craft, I've always wanted a program that will be there to help me stay on track, and yet wouldn't restrict me or force myself to learn a new system.  POWER STRUCTURE learns my system, and assists me in telling my story.  No other program out there comes even close to doing what POWER STRUCTURE does, and I can say, without hesitation, that the people at ScriptThing have done an absolutely outstanding job of helping the writer write.

A fully-working demo can be downloaded at www.write-brain.org. Once you've tried it out, I'm sure you'll find it to be as invaluable a tool as I have.