This the home page for One Stop for Writers. The image on the right changes.
One Stop for Writers is a website to help writers create characters and worlds and plot their novels. It’s powered by thesauruses, like the Emotion Thesaurus that I already decided is worth the price. Overall, the website offers fifteen thesauruses—all of the published ones and several others.
At One Stop, you can create many different things to help you plan your novel. The Character Builder develops a personality, emotional wound, inner and outer motivations, fear, quirks, life, and physical traits. Character’s Fear is a similar page focused only on one character’s fear and what personality traits stem from that. Character Arc Progression asks for information from the Character Builder, but also has you consider a resolution. Emotional Progression has you lists events that occur and the emotions of the character, and how you plan to show (not tell) the emotions. Setting-at-a-Glance has you describe your setting with the five senses, as well as lighting/time of day. Emotional Value of a Setting adds symbolism and forces you to consider deeper aspects of scene that will theoretically reinforce the emotions of the characters. Scene Map (informal and formal) asks you for information about what is happening in the scene. The formal version asks more questions. The Story Map is a very general plot outline with major elements listed, generates an interactive imaged with acts 1-3 or stages 1-6 indicated. The timeline is great because you can write events as they come to mind, and then drag them around in whatever order you need. Last is the Worldbuilding Survey, which can be used to create planets down to a single household and everything in between.
All of those have the thesauruses built in to offer suggestions that go together. For example, you select an emotional wound, and the website suggests fears that may stem from it. There are also worksheets and templates you can download to work offline, however these lack the connection to the thesauruses. The site also offers 47 checklists and tip sheets. Checklists can help you do things like add conflict or create a good flashback. Some of the lists include positive traits or when to show not tell. Many are also tutorials for how to use the various thesauruses, although that’s not very difficult.
The website has excellent how-tos, including videos and screenshots. Most of it is very user friendly.
There are cost tiers to consider. There’s a 2-week free trial, which you should absolutely use if you’re thinking of paying to play. Of note, with the free trial you cannot download pdfs of what you make and can only make one item in each category. It’s easy enough to get around those issues though, since you can copy/paste from the website into word and can delete info and remake subsequent items. I’m not being sketchy by telling you this, the website creators tell you that in the how-to-use section. Otherwise the pricing is: $9 for one month, $50 for 6 months, and $90 for one year.
I used my two-week free trial to work on the concept I had for a potential NaNoWriMo project. I’ve never done heavy outlining like this site offered, and thought the structure could be useful.
Of the 15 electronic thesauruses, my favorite is symbolism thesaurus, because that’s my weakest skill. A few of them, like the texture thesaurus, were not very full, and I probably could have listed all of those entries myself.
I enjoyed the character builder. It worked from the emotional wound outward, so that the character’s personality came together in an organic way. The suggests from the thesauruses were great and helped to easily build a round main character. However, if you have the print thesauruses, I think they’d cover the same information, though would be slower to navigate.
Some of what you can make feels redundant, for example the Character’s Fear page is already something you fill out in the Character Builder. Perhaps it’s a short version meant for side characters.
I decided to test if using this website helped me write a stronger first draft of a scene. I wrote the opening scene of my NaNoWriMo project after creating two characters, completing one Worldbuilding Survey, one Emotional Value of a Scene sheet, and a Story Map. Then I took this scene to my critique group. My critique group didn’t notice a drastic change in first draft quality from my previous WIP to this scene. They also didn’t pick up on any of the additions I made using the Emotional Value of a Setting sheet. I’ll admit that may be because I was not heavy handed with those suggestions. I did six hours of prep work on One Stop for Writers, but then I wrote 1000 words in a little over 30 minutes.
Is It Worth It?
If you are new to plotting, want to try plotting, or want to beef up your plotting, it’s a great resource. If you already have a plotting method that you love or if you are a panster for life, this won’t be terribly beneficial for you. I love that the site offers a free trial before getting pricey, because then you know what you’re paying for. If you’re willing to copy/paste and delete/redo then you can probably do all the planning you need during your free trial. It requires a lot of time to make what you need, but if you’ve got the time to use it, it’s fun.
Overall, the free trial is for sure worth it. I don’t think the one-year trial is worth the price, unless you are an insanely prolific writer and constantly planning your next novel. The one-month trial may be helpful, but six months I can’t imagine being that useful. At least you can try it for free before beginning your next project. With one week left before NaNoWriMo begins, anyone needing help plotting may want to check this out now!
Have you tried One Stop for Writers? Have you used a subscription? Did you think it was worth it? Let's discuss in the comments!