A Historic Timeline of StoryCraft, the World’s Original Story-Creation Software — and Oldest Continuing Line of Writer’s Software
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1994 John Jarvis (bio) conceives a way of incorporating the hero’s journey pattern into a software program. It is a revolutionary idea at that time, to improve one’s writing of stories by utilizing the various steps that are found in all the great myths and classics of literature and presenting those “Hero Journey steps,” or “mythological approach,” in an electronic format that we have become so familiar with today – the software program or App – but which, at that time, few understood or even believed could be possible.
At the time, in 1994, there were only two extant software programs that incorporated the Hero’s Journey pattern into some of their features — John Truby’s Blockbuster and Collaborator. Over the years, Collaborator did not survive, and the Truby software was priced out of the range of most writers.
1995 Irwin Berent (bio), who is then in the process of establishing a branch of the Virginia Writers Club in Norfolk, Virginia at his and John’s alma mater, Old Dominion University, meets Jarvis and discovers their mutual interest in writing. John reveals to Irwin his idea for a software program for writing stories, and Irwin begins working with John, helping him to consolidate his ideas into a clear, organized – and radical – plan for Jarvis’s software.
By 1995… John Jarvis is already a regular screenwriting columnist for Screenwrite Now as well as a pioneer in radio-drama production in the Southeast. … Irwin Berent is completing the first of his Weird Words series of word books published by Berkley Publishing Group and co-authored with Dr. Rod L. Evans; and he has already written and co-compiled with professor Evans several other published books, including the classic in interpersonal communications, The Right Words (Warner Books, 1992), and word-play favorite Getting Your Words Worth (Warner Books, 1993). His prolific collaboration with Evans had begun in 1988 with their critical study of Fundamentalism published by Open Court, which was introduced by Talk-Show personality/icon Steve Allen and received endorsements from Robert Schuller, Alex Haley, and others.
1996 Together, John and Irwin complete the design of a software program that they call “StoryCraft,” coining the phrase “story-processing” program and utilizing a system that will become known around the world to persons learning the craft of fiction as the “Jarvis Method.” They also begin selling the software in an early electronic format known as DOS. Over the years, the software has become known as StoryCraft Classic through all its various versions and incarnations — and of course DOS has long since disappeared, replaced with Windows and MAC compatibility.
1996 Berent’s study of Libertarian thought with Dr. Evans, The Quotable Conservative (Adams Media Group, 1996), is honored with an Introduction by William F. Buckley, Jr., as well as endorsements from Milton Friedman, Charlton Heston and others. That same year, Betty White introduces Berent’s latest book co-authored with Evans, The ABC of Cat Trivia (St. Martin’s Press).
1996 StoryCraft Corporation has its first distributor, USA Software, an early, fledgling software distribution company located in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Screenshot from an early sales page from USA Software (Internet Wayback Machine):
1997 Just two years after the establishment of the modern Internet, John and Irwin purchase their first website, story.exis.net, and by year’s end they discover that they don’t have to rely on Exis but can have their own domain name. Thus, they establish writerspage.com for StoryCraft’s headquarters. Today the WritersPage site remains one of the most highly-coveted writing-related domain names on the Internet.
1997 Berent completes his Dictionary of Highly Unusual Words (Berkley) with Dr. Evans.
1998 Sales of StoryCraft quickly reach 750 users. As other competitors seek to duplicate the technology and teachings within StoryCraft, sales will slow for a few years, but through innovation and enhancements, StoryCraft will maintain a strong level of popularity to the present day over two decades later.
1999 Berent’s influential compilation and early look at arguments for and against drug legalization (Drug Legalization: For and Against, Open Court, 1999), co-edited by Dr. Evans, has an Introduction by TV-legend Hugh Downs and Foreword by Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner and inventor of Vitamin C. It will turn out to be Pauling’s last work for which he would write a foreword.
1999 Using his 12-Step interpretation of the Hero’s Journey, Jarvis discovers that Dickens’s A Christmas Carol presents the ideal illustration of his approach to fiction writing, and he begins teaching his online New Dimensions In Writing novel and screenwriting course with the Dickens classic as its focal point and exemplar. Wildly popular, it lifts sales of StoryCraft even more, making it one of the best-selling writer’s software programs in the U.S.
2000 StoryCraft version 3.1 is released to rave reviews.
2003 Berent founds the Writers SuperCenter, with StoryCraft as its flagship program. This year, StoryCraft reaches its 7,000th sale.
2007 Writers SuperCenter begins offering MasterWriter Software. To this day, the software, created by noted songwriter/composer Barry De Vorzon, is the SuperCenter’s most popular general writing software for finding the best words for any kind of writing, including books and articles, advertising, technical manuals, and so on, as well as poetry and songwriting.
Over the years, Writers SuperCenter will carry numerous writer’s software programs in addition to StoryCraft, but none but MasterWriter and StoryCraft will ultimately survive the test of time. Other software programs, particularly for screenplay formatting (such as Hollywood Screenplay, HollyWord, Script Wizard, Biblioscape and Page to Stage) and for managing one’s sales of their writings (such as Write That Down and InkLink), as well as Power Structure, Plots Unlimited / StoryBase, Wizards for Word, BoardMaster, Muse Software, Cheetaah, and a host of others would be offered by Writers SuperCenter over the years, but ultimately all would come and go, as the companies producing those programs went out of business.
2009 John Jarvis passes away on March 14. His business partner, Irwin Berent, is determined to keep his memory alive and his famous software program up-to-date and continually improving.
2010 Berent invigorates sales of StoryCraft, releasing StoryCraft 7, the company’s first HTML version.
2018 Andre van Haren, a devoted student of Jarvis’s Jarvis Method, begins fashioning a new software program, StoryCraft New Edition, re-imagining the StoryCraft Classic software, adding numerous interactive elements and educational enhancements, including a thorough incorporation of Jarvis’s use of the classic A Christmas Carol to illustrate each stage of fiction creation.
2022 After testing several beta versions of StoryCraft New Edition, limited distribution of the software mainly throughout the U.S. and Canada — as well as in Andre’s native Holland — commence, and the response is fast and positive, with sales of the StoryCraft New Edition gradually outpacing the perennially strong-selling flagship, StoryCraft Classic.
2022 Number of users of StoryCraft Classic reaches 15,000 in February.