Truby Software

I’ll start by saying that I am a great admirer of John Truby’s work. Although I take exception to the idea that all fiction should be written like a film script (a book can do so much more than a movie), there is much to be learned from scriptwriting techniques. John Truby has a brilliant grasp of storytelling, and I highly recommend his books. His newsletter has some pretty good insights, too.

Based on these warm and fuzzy feelings, I took advantage of a half price sale and ordered his Blockbuster software. I figured there was something I might learn there. What I learned was that they were marketing for a Mac operating system from lo, many generations ago and customer service at Truby’s Writers Studios is not speedy, either by phone or email. Mind you, if all the Mac users taken in by this sale are contacting them, what a surprise. Plus, it is the holiday season, when they apparently have time to market but not to answer the phone.

So, I’m posting this as a public service announcement. BE ABSOLUTELY SURE that your operating system is covered before ordering any software. Don’t be stupid like me. Even on sale this stuff isn’t cheap (thank heavens I only ordered the basics and none of the add-ons!). And as I know a lot of you are also writers on Macs, I advise caution with this particular product. Double check and check again.

To be fair, I will post here about any response I receive from the company, whether they make it right, offer a refund, or whatever. If they make me a happy camper, I’ll move on to giving a product review instead of just a consumer beef.

ADDENDUM:  I’ve heard back from the mothership and they gave me the code to activate the software. Of course, it took some poking around to convince the program to give me the window in which to enter said code, but that eventually got it up and running. If I close the program, it’s really slow to reopen. Despite their conviction that it runs on Yosemite (which it does) I get the idea from the Mac’s grunting and grumbling and slow response that the Mac OS is not the program’s happy place. Two more advisories: one, the software has not got any instructions with it. I recommend getting Truby’s book or other supplementary info–I’ve already read the book so I’m further ahead. Also, if you don’t get the genre add-ons, it’s missing a lot of info. In other words, some of the clickable bits don’t work.

However, all that being said, the software is really good for sorting out ideas. Yes, it can be done on paper and yes, I’m fully capable of much of this stuff on my own but the program prompts me to examine things I hadn’t thought about yet. I’m just beginning a project and in the last hour I’ve focussed the conflicts really effectively. That, for me, saves on rewrites. I have some big projects I’m eager to load into this puppy because I can already see how it will help them along.

I’ll keep going and report back later.


  1. Brian B. says:


    I hope this message finds you doing well. I also have this software and haven’t used it since upgrading to Yosemite. Now, I keep getting an error that says I need to have Java SE 6 or something. Did you go through this and how did you overcome the issues?

    Great piece on the software though.

    All my best.

    Brian B.

    • Emma Jane says:

      Hi, Brian

      I don’t remember a java problem, but I might have had it already so it was a non-issue. I do have better luck launching it from the finder than the dock–don’t ask me why. The software still takes a long time to load, but eventually it gets there, Yosemite and all. In your case, my recommendation would be to email the software support. They were pretty quick to respond.

  2. Killan Gracey says:

    Hi Emma,

    Do you know anyone who has used this on Win 10? I was also wondering on what your thoughts are of this software now, 7 months later. Thank you.


    • Emma Jane says:

      Hi, Killan. I’m afraid I don’t know any other users of this software, so I can’t comment on how it works on other machines. As far as how I’m still liking it, I’m back and forth. It has tons of interesting ideas, but much of that comes from Truby’s written work and the software is just a convenience. Many of the genre add-ons have to be purchased separately, and that adds up quickly if (like me) you work in several styles. What I really do appreciate, though, is being forced to plan better, and the software certainly does that well. Am I sorry I bought it? No. Would I buy it again? Probably not.

  3. I just installed this on El Capitan 10.11.5. It required finding and installing a legacy java 6 to run, but it does warn you and provide a link to download it for OSX. As you said, it starts very slowly.

    I think as you do, it was worth getting once to force you into thinking more completely about structure – but I’m also a programmer and this is way old java programming, as I use it I keep seeing how I would rebuild it…

  4. Jake says:

    Hi Emma,

    It’s been a while since anyone has commented on Truby’s software and I was curious if you had any updates on your experience? I want to pick this up, but I am having difficulty finding reviews of substance out there. Especially those of late. BTW, I am running macOS Catalina.


    • Rowan & Ash Artistry says:

      Hi Jake,

      To be honest, I drifted away from this software after the version I had stopped working due to OS updates. I think I had to spend money to go to the newer version (I can’t quite recall) and I wasn’t compelled enough to keep pursuing it. At the moment, I’m using Plottr, which comes with some templates and is a lot more user friendly. Here is the link if you’d like to check it out:

  5. Yellowlees Douglas says:

    Has anyone tried to get the “Activation Code” that the software requires for it to run? For some weird reason, the software has a now-defunct aol email address for John Truby plus his phone number–where you reach voicemail advising you to email the now-defunct email address. Fortunately, because Truby is still trying to sell products and services, he has a corrected email out there. But I forked over a few hundred bucks for software where I can’t even tell if it’ll run on my Mac. How long did it take you to get an activation code? This step is bizarrely antediluvian, since the activation code should be in the email containing your order number and receipt. How long did it take Truby Inc to respond to a request for a bloody code?

  6. Rowan & Ash Artistry says:

    Hi, I haven’t used this software for at least 5 years. At the time I stopped, it had ceased to work on my Mac. They might have fixed it later, but I wasn’t excited enough to upgrade and continue using the product. Sorry, I wish I could be more help!

  7. Sari I Gallegos says:

    They have current email on the site, and are answering emails immediately at present! Program is upgraded for new Mac OS.

  8. Alicia says:

    Thanks, Sari! Just when I was about to give up all hope. If this is indeed the case, I’ll roll up my sleeves and give this another shot.

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