Dear consultant, you want me to pay you to tell me about the software I don’t want?

Perhaps you saw this e-mail. A writing/marketing consultant sent me an e-mail “offering me a seat which wasn’t free” to an upcoming webinar about novel-plotting software. He did give recipients a free tip: after analyzing multiple programs, he liked Plottr best. Plotter’s slogan is Plan Your Books The Way You Think.

I cruised through the website and what I saw reminded me of the note cards, outlines, and other annoyances that English teachers used to force on us every time we wrote a paper. My answer to Plottr is the same as my answer to English teachers 50 years ago: Nobody thinks like this.

Perhaps a programmer using C, COBOL, or assembly language thinks like that, but writers certainly don’t. I’ve written computer programs and noted the difference between their structure and the structure of a story.

So, after seeing what the consultant wanted me to learn more about, my mood went from pleasant to bad. It got worse when I saw that the way to learn more was through a webinar. Holy hell, I thought, that’s about the slowest possible way to impart information. Very linear. Much slower than a booklet with headings and subheads that let me go directly to the points I want to know more about. With a webinar, I have to suffer through the whole darn thing to get to the points I care about. I have no idea why this is such a popular method of dispending information. It’s probably cheap.

Now, if the webinar came with a transcript I could refer to later, I might give its creator a little slack.

While on the Plottr website, I kept seeing mini-testimonials flashing on my screen from people who loved the application. I didn’t see any testimonials from well-known novelists. Joe Doaks says Plottr is great. Okay, wonderful. What’s the name of a novel he wrote using the program?

You can see, I think, that I’m not in favor of this kind of software. If it helps a writer, that’s fine. Nevertheless, I tend to see it as a detrimental approach that gets in the way of a story’s development. For goodness sakes, I don’t need a thousand-word dossier on every character before writing the words “Once upon a time.”

Enough, already. I’ve said most of this before.


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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2 thoughts on “Dear consultant, you want me to pay you to tell me about the software I don’t want?

  1. I think it is also true to say that no two writers plan in quite the same way, if they plan at all.

    The world seems to be full of snake oil salesmen/women these days. Sigh.

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