Secret Writer’s Society attempts to teach students the basic skills needed for good writing. Users are invited to enlist in the mysterious 'Secret Writer's Society' (SWS), where they must complete six Training Levels that will prepare them to tackle a multitude of writing missions.
Mission Controller of the SWS is Tex, an anthropomorphized sheet of paper with marginal appeal. Tex not only leads the user through the steps to good writing, but his catchy animated tunes, much like those popularized by School House Rock, teach and illustrate the writing basics.
Throughout the program, students can break from the learning process to practice their skills by creating fun messages on a refrigerator with virtual word magnets, or capturing their thoughts and ideas in the password protected 'Diary'.
Each of this program’s training levels includes a song-filled lesson followed by a game that tests the user's understanding of that writing skill. Lessons focus on such basics as capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and spacing, as well as the more complex paragraph formation and thought organization. Successfully completed games earn the user a letter in the 'Secret Word', which is required for entry into Level 7, where writing missions are undertaken.
As members of the SWS, students are introduced to the five steps needed to write effectively and complete an SWS writing mission. These steps include: plan, draft, revise, edit and finally present. Users are led step by step through this process, eventually earning their due reward: a well-written essay.
Although our kid reviewers reported learning a great deal while using this program, they mentioned that it was not a ‘fun’ pursuit. They enjoyed the informational songs, and were somewhat distracted by the games, but the nitty-gritty writing required to complete Level 7 still felt too much like hard work to make Secret Writer’s Society a free-time activity choice.
Ease of Use / Install
Initially released with a significant bug that allowed the user to unintentionally access a "bad word" list, the new version of Secret Writer’s Society has remedied this defect. The packaging of the two versions is identical however, and since the product was never recalled, there appears to be no obvious way to distinguish between the two until you open the package. The fixed CD itself is labeled 'Version 3.0.' If you buy the program, we'd recommend either opening it at the store to insure that it is version 3.0 or later, or purchasing from a store that allows returns.
Best for... / Bottom-Line
Although Secret Writer's Society effectively teaches the skills needed for good writing, it is only moderately appealing, and therefore requires patience and motivation to complete.