How I setup & Use Dabble Writing Software.
Updated: Apr 5
When I set out to write my first novel, I wanted a writing software that would be easy to use, cost effective and something I could access anywhere whether online or offline.
What checked all my boxes was Dabble, and my experience so far has been very positive!
There is zero learning curve which is especially helpful for my ADHD brain, and with some trial and error, I figured out how to best setup dabble for my writing journey.
If you haven’t heard of it, Dabble is an easy-to-use online writing tool, packed with helpful features that allow beginning novelists and published authors to create amazing stories.
All plans start with a 14-day free trial of Premium, no credit card required.
Once your trial is up they will ask you to provide credit card details at that time. It is super helpful for us ADHD writers because how often we forget to cancel subscriptions before they renew! You can choose your plan, change your plan, or cancel at any time.
They have three packages with different features and pricing. You can pay a monthly fee or an annual fee (which is a little cheaper). All prices are in USD.
This image displays monthly subscription costs (more expensive by a couple dollars compared to annual subssription)
Why it's awesome
"Whether you’re a published author or just setting out to learn how to write a book, Dabble’s elegant and easy-to-use novel writing software is packed with features to help your story become a reality". (credit - Dabble website)
Fellow writers have been reaching out with questions on how I setup Dabble, so below is a step by step guide to how I outline, collect information, develop my story structure and write!
NOTE* this is how I personally setup and use Dabble. Feel free to deviate and create your own structure!
When you create a new story, there is a default plot grid that connects to your chapters in your core manuscript. What I like to do is create additional separate plot grids that reflect each Act.
How to create a new Plot Grid
- To create a new plot grid, highlight the 'PLOT' header, by clicking, and on the right are three dots where you can select Plot Actions.
- Select 'ADD NEW PLOT GRID'
It will create a new separate plot grid below. The nice thing about the additional plot grids is that they are not tied to your chapter notes like the default plot grid.
Create Three Plot Grids Per Act
I like to divide my plot into three grids (one per Act) because I find it helps minimize clutter, and that way I can really outline my story properly and ensure the progression follows true story structure.
KM Weiland’s book - "Structuring Your Novel" is such a helpful guide, and I utilize her story structure elements when I’m outlining my novel.
By doing so, I had ZERO major plot holes in my story. I highly recommend this book and her other books, advice and guides on
Act I Plot Grid arrangement
I take each element of ACT I and type out the progression on a separate card. I arrange them vertically so I can brainstorm and outline the corresponding scenes with that plot point.
While my hook may only have on card, typically my other cards have multiple scenes/chapters within them. I typically write out one scene per card, which usually corresponds to one chapter.
Here are the story elements/plot points for Act I (in order):
- HOOK (1% mark)
- SETUP (1%-12%) Readers learn about your character, their goals and the stakes
- INCITING EVENT (12%) Turning point occurs halfway through the first act. This is the call to adventure. The normal world is rocked by conflict.
- BUILD UP (12%-25%) Final pieces for the main conflict are moved into position while ramping up the tension.
- FIRST PLOT POINT/KEY EVENT (25%) The doorway between the first act and the beginning of the second. example key event physical departure from normal world, first plot point entering adventure world.
Act II & III Plot Grid arrangement
Once you’re done setting up the plot grid for Act I, repeat with Act II and III
Click on plot and add a new plot grid for each sequential act.
Here are the story elements/plot points for Act II (in order):
Act II is typically the longest part of your book so there are more elements within the Act II structure.
Building off of the key event from Act I you then have:
- REACTION (25%-37%) After the first plot point, the protagonist scrambles to understand obstacles thrown in his way by the antagonist
- 1st PINCH POINT (37%) A reminder of the antagonists power which provides new clues about the nature of the conflict.
- REALIZATION (37%-50%) Protagonist’s realization grows and his reaction become more informed.
- MIDPOINT (50%) The moment of truth when the protagonist realizes the central truth about the nature of the conflict.
- ACTION (50%-62%) Thanks to his new understanding, the protagonist makes headway against the antagonist
- 2nd PINCH POINT (62%) Foreshadows the third plot point and serves to remind the protagonist what is at stake.
- RENEWED PUSH (62%-75%) Protagonist renews attack upon the antagonist. He reaches a seeming victory.
I use the same rubric as Act I, and add the header and then the description of that story element. I then outline the scenes on the subsequent cards that line up with that plot point.
The Third Act, follow the same rubric.
Continuing from Act II, the plot points are as follows:
- THIRD PLOT POINT (75%) A dark moment for the character. After the victory at the end of the second act, he experiences a reversal.
- RECOVERY (75%-88%) Protagonist reels as he questions his choices, his commitment to his goal, and his own worth and ability.
- CLIMAX BEGINS (88%) This turning point forces the protagonist and the antagonist the face each other
- CONFRONTATION (88%-98%) Due to the literal or metaphoric death, what occurs here ensues the protagonist and antagonist cannot both walk away
- CLIMACTIC MOMENT (98%) The moment the protagonist’s goal is met, it becomes a physical impossibility for the conflict to continue.
Resolution (98%-100%) Ease readers out of the excitement of the climax and into the final emotion.
For the Story Notes section, I like to create folders so I can reference them with ease.
- I have a main character folder and a minor character folder so it doesn’t get too cluttered.
- I also like to include a world building folder. I’m currently writing a paranormal romance, so I need to brainstorm and keep notes on mythical characters/magical components.
- I also like to have a settings folder with descriptions of the setting and where everything is in reference to each other geographically.
- I also like to include a research folder if there is anything I have researched that I want to incorporate (and credit!) in my story.
- Finally, I have a writing tips/resources folder where I can add various links to writing resources like KM Weiland’s website!
Lastly I thought I would show you how you can label your chapters if they don’t fall traditionally in order or you have specific chapter titles per scene.
Go to the three dots on the right of the main manuscript and click ‘ADD NEW CHAPTER’.
The bolded text is what you would want to name your chapter. The book I’m writing has a dual narrative so I like to include who the chapter is about or who the narrator is. In this example, I have Sally.
To rename your chapter, click on the three dots on the right and select ‘RENAME CHAPTER’.
Then for the ‘untitled scene’ do the same thing. Select ‘RENAME SCENE’. And here is where I typically sub-label it chapter 2 to keep track of my chapters/scenes chronological order.
*Note - what you name your scene does not correspond with the set chapter numbers you see above 'Sally'. I explain this in the next section.
Though prologues are apparently a huge no no, sometimes you may want a scene at the beginning that is more of a prologue or a prelude to your book.
To rename this, follow the same step and select ‘RENAME CHAPTER’ and then if you don’t want this first scene to have a chapter number, hover your cursor right above the Chapter label and you’ll see a pop up text that says ‘toggle chapter numbering’ where basically you can control how your chapters are labelled numerically.
If you click on it, it will take away the chapter number. If you click on it again, it will set it as ‘Chapter 1’.
When you add the subsequent chapter, it will then appear as chapter 1 (unless you toggle that as well).
Again, the scene name does not correspond with the set chapter numbers you see above.