Campfire Writing App: What can you do with the free modules?

Campfire Writing App is an innovative tool designed to allow writers contain the chaos of their projects. With their intuitive visual user interface, extensive customizations, and a flexible payment plan, it’s the only software of its kind.

Like everything else good in life, Campfire is not a free product, however, unlike many other writing software solutions, you may try it for free indefinitely. For free, you get the same features paid users get, but you’re limited in how many elements you can create within.

So you’re likely wondering, can I create my entire project in this app for free?

Let’s look at your project and what Campfire offers to see if it’s got what you need.

I am in no shape or form affiliated with Campfire and do not get any kickbacks for reviewing their product (honestly, I don’t know if they’d like it that I’m showing you how to get around their paywall). I’m just another user that maximized their free offering.

What’s free in Campfire?

Everything—but in moderation.

Campfire is constantly evolving, so the details of their offerings might change in the future, but as of writing of this post, here’s what you get for the price of ZERO.

MODULE DESCRIPTIONFREE LIMIT
Manuscript – this is where you write your story. You may divide it into as many sections and folders as you wish, add notes and link to other Campfire elements.25,000 words
Characters – character bios, traits, backstories, pictures. Whatever you can think of.10 characters
Encyclopedia – articles you can format and organize.5 articles
Languages – a dictionary that supports custom symbols and phonetics.1 language
Magic – a detailed overview of your magic system.1 system
Maps – an image you can zoom in and out of.2 maps
Research – articles and notes.5 topics
Timeline – events you may arrange, edit details of, and link to other elements within Campfire (like characters). Create multiple plotlines and enter dates.20 events
Arcs – track changes in your characters.3 arcs per project
Locations – edit details, backstories, add photos, etc.5
Items – edit details, backstories, add photos, etc.5
Relationships – draw links between characters.2 webs
Systems – a flowchart and a detailed overview of systems in your universe (political, social, etc)2
Cultures – detailed overview of societal norms, etc.2
Philosophies – worldviews, wisdoms.2
Religions – values, rituals, deities, history, you name it.2
Species – traits, skills, habitats, history, etc.5

Which modules you’ll find the most use for depends on your project and personal preference. Let’s see how we can mix and match the freebies.

Testing the limits of the free elements

Manuscript

Let’s start from the most important module. Can you get by on 25,000 words total in all projects?

Unless you write poetry or short stories, no. You’ll need to purchase their paid module.

What’s your free option? If you don’t use this Campfire module, you could keep your manuscript on a word processor, Google Docs, or a writing software like Scrivener. You may still keep notes about your scenes and chapters within Campfire if you wish, though that might be doubled effort.

Not using this module (or only using it for notes) may be a viable free option if you’re okay with keeping your manuscript separate from the rest of your project notes.

Characters

Can you get by with ten characters? In one project, yes. Keep in mind, you might have many side characters, but you shouldn’t have this many main characters and those are the ones you need to keep track of the most. With ten characters, you can use this module for free.

What do you do with notes on minor characters that didn’t fit within the limit? Ha! I have a solution for that problem coming right up.

Encyclopedia

Introducing, the Holy Grail of infodumps. Encyclopedia is where you can store all sorts of data, including details that you couldn’t fit in the other modules. Since you get five free articles, organize them wisely. Dedicate one to minor characters, another one to minor locations, or items. Do you see where we’re going with this? Since each of those less beefy elements doesn’t have as much detail to it, you can fit many of them within one article. And you can still add your photos, even tables, and stats—as many as you want. Separate the entries with headings, make it easy to read.

Bummed that you wouldn’t have a custom link to each minor character? Don’t forget, there’s a search function that will help you find the detail you’re looking for.

If you play your cards well, you can maximize everything Campfire offers for free. Here are some other ideas.

Be a smart Campfire user.

Merge and repurpose

The project I was exploring free modules on happens to be of the epic fantasy variety and those come with a lot of worldbuilding attached. Most notably: magic. How can you include more than one Magic system if only one is free?

In my case, I used the Religion module. Since one of the magic systems was very tightly bound with religious beliefs, it was immensely easy to use this module for that purpose. And so I was able to create a “regular” magic system and a religion. Two magic systems right there which I’m able to link to other Campfire elements for easy access just as I would with multiple Magic systems.

And don’t forget, there are still Cultures, Philosophies, and Systems. Each module has different features, so explore them, poke around what elements you can add in each, and see if they work for your project’s needs. You never know, maybe it will work even better than the traditional module.

Another option you shouldn’t forget exists is Campfire’s extensive note element: Project notes, History, Backstory, and Notes. Those are everywhere around your project. Every module and every element has a note section where you can include tons of details. Maximize them to capture random notes that would otherwise clog up your free elements. And don’t forget, there’s a search feature so you don’t have to worry about losing track of your notes.

Limitations of free: timeline

So far, we’ve been able to get around the paywall and still have a good use of Campfire. Is there a module that we won’t be able to use for free? Yes—Timeline.

20 events simply isn’t enough. Unless you’re writing a short story, you’ll run out of events before you even notice. I’m afraid there’s no hack for this module. Either pay for it or don’t use it at all.

My very biased personal opinion is that as is, the Timeline module is not worth paying for. I’m waiting for Campfire to step up and develop it better. Judging from how comprehensive the other modules have become, there’s hope that Timeline will improve with time (pun not intended but very much welcome).

For now, I’ll still have to track my timelines on spreadsheets and index cards. Sigh…

Do you use a nifty timeline tool? What kind? Share in the comments.

The final verdict: Can you use Campfire for free?

With the exceptions of Manuscript and Timeline modules, yes, you can get away with using only the free version of Campfire. It will require sly organizational skills and some thinking outside of the box. Also, I doubt you’ll be able to use more than one project, unless it’s a sequel. Did you know you can share elements between projects – it’s a very nifty feature for a series.

But if you have a lot of projects on the back burner, you won’t be able to work on all of them in Campfire. You’ll start running out of elements very quickly. In my example, though I was testing Campfire on a series, I quickly noticed how my options dwindled down. It’s still doable if majority of elements are shared, but it gets cumbersome and disappointing after a while.

But for a starter project, Campfire might be a great free option to try. Once you get the basics of how it works, you’ll be deep in it for hours.

The only risk you take is that you might have so much fun using it, you’ll want more than what you can get for free.


Check out Campfire here.

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