Can Technology Help Write a Story?

A couple of months ago, as I googled away an unproductive afternoon, I came across a nifty little computer program called yWriter.

It portrays itself as a word processor which “breaks your novel into chapters and scenes, helping you keep track of your work.”  As luck would have it, this is exactly what I needed to do with my current work in progress, Cradlesnatch. So I clicked on Download Now.

Then I started to play with my new toy.

I created an entry for each chapter in the book, and within each chapter, I created as many scenes as I needed.

It looks something like this at the moment:


There are tabs at the top where you create Characters, Locations and Items which appear in the story, and you can drag these onto the information section for each scene.

You can print the whole text or selected scenes, with our without additional details, and there’s an option to delete duplicated/orphaned scenes. It even provides a word count.

But that isn’t the best bit. The best bit is when you double click on a scene and access the details box:


It lets you decide if your scene is an Action or Reaction scene. (similar to what Jack M Bickham calls Scene and Sequel in his book Scene and Structure).

If you select Action your scene goals are stated as Goal, Conflict, and Outcome:


But if you select Reaction your scene goals are Reaction, Emotion, and Decision:


This would make Mr Bickham very happy, I think, as he talks about similar things in relation to scene and sequel. It’s helping me clarify the structure of my story at an early stage of the re-writes, which makes me happy too.

The question is, does using a tool like this affect how someone writes? Is there a danger of a story becoming formulaic if it’s set out in a pre-ordained pattern? Or, like any craftsman’s tool, does the shape of the final product depend entirely on the person who wields it?

If you have enjoyed this post – you might like to see how I put my methods into practice in my other work by reading SNAP by Lizzie Hexter, available from,,,, iTunes and Kobo.

6 thoughts on “Can Technology Help Write a Story?

  1. Awesome. I’m going to have a go with this!

  2. Phil says:

    Wow…sounds interesting. Perhaps write the scene yourself first then use the software to write the same scene and see how it differs.

    • Hi Phil, it doesn’t actually write the words, you still have to do that yourself! But I read about something called Narrative Stories, which is an american company who make up newspaper articles from statistics – mostly sports. Freaky.

      • Phil says:

        Sorry Lorrie, I didn’t mean get the software to do the work, I meant get it to give its ‘flavour’ of the scene.

      • Silly me. I can be such a numpty sometimes. Now all this talk of ‘flavour’ is making me hungry.

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