At its core, novelWriter is a multi-document plain text editor. It uses a markup syntax inspired by Markdown to apply simple formatting to the text. It is designed for writing fiction, so the formatting features available are limited to those relevant for this purpose. It is not suitable for technical writing, and it is not a full-featured Markdown editor.
Your novel project is organised as a collection of separate plain text documents instead of a single, large document. The idea here is to make it easier to reorganise your project structure without having to cut and paste text between chapters.
There are two kinds of documents in your project: Novel Documents are documents that are part of your story. The other kind of documents are Project Notes. These are intended for your notes about your characters, your world building, and so on.
You can at any point split the individual documents by their headers up into multiple documents, or merge multiple documents into single documents. This makes it easier to use variations of the Snowflake method for writing. You can focus on writing larger structure-focused documents, like one per act for instance, and later effortlessly split these up into scenes by their headers.
Below are some key features of novelWriter.
- Focus on writing
The aim of the user interface is to let the user focus on writing instead of spending time formatting text. Formatting is therefore limited to a small set of formatting tags for simple things like text emphasis and paragraph alignment. When you really want to focus on just writing, you can switch the editor into Focus Mode where only the text editor panel itself is visible, and the project structure view is hidden away.
- Keep an eye on your notes
The main window can optionally show a document viewer to the right of the editor. This view panel is intended for displaying another scene document, your character notes, plot notes, or any other document you may need to reference while writing. It is not intended as a preview panel for the document you’re editing, but if you wish, you can also use it for this purpose.
- Organise your documents how you like
You can split your novel project up into as many individual documents as you want to. When you build the project into a manuscript, they are all glued together in the top-to-bottom order in which they appear in the project tree. You can use as few text documents as you like, but splitting the project up into chapters and scenes means you can easily reorder them using the drag-and-drop feature. You can also start out with a few documents and then later split them into multiple documents based on their headers.
- Multi-novel project support
As of novelWriter 2.0, you can have multiple Novel type root folders in a project. This allows you to keep a series of individual novels with the same characters and world building in the same project, and create manuscripts for them individually.
- Keep track of your plot elements
All notes in your project can be assigned a tag that you can reference from any other document or note. In fact, you can add a new tag under each heading of a note if you need to be able to reference specific sections of ot.
- Get an overview of your plot elements
In the Outline View on the main window you can see an outline of all the chapters, scenes, and sections of your project. If they have any references in them, these are listed in additional columns. You can also add a synopsis to each chapter or scene, which can be listed here as well. You have the option to add or remove columns of information from this outline. A subset of the outline information is also available in the Novel View as an alternative view to the project tree.
- Building your manuscript
Whether you want to assemble a manuscript, or export all your notes, or generate an outline of your chapters and scenes with a synopsis, you can use the Build Manuscript tool to do so. The tool lets you select what information you want to include in the generated document, and how it is formatted. You can send the result to a printer, a PDF, or to an Open Document file that can be opened by most office type word processors. You can also generate the result as HTML, or Markdown, both suitable for further conversion to other formats.