Novel Writing Software


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What novel writing software do you use?

Posted in: Novel Writing Software by Edwin on October 12, 2009

The Writing Outliner Word™ addin is intended to be a general book writing software for writing various kinds of books, these  should include technical book/manual, novel, non-fiction, and so on, so I wonder what novel writing software are you using currently  and what problems are you facing in using that software?


  1. MuppetGate

    Support for tables and styles are an issue for me.

    Comment by MuppetGate on October 23, 2009 at 6:29 pm

  2. Hi MuppetGate,

    Do you mean the table and styles in Word? With Writing Outliner Word addin all these features can be used as usual, and you can set the style for each node of the document outline in the ‘project manager’ task pane, and these style settings will be used when compiling the final output. As a result, you don’t have to set the styles for your section titles and chapter titles

    Comment by Edwin on October 23, 2009 at 9:07 pm

  3. MuppetGate

    Sounds great, but will you be able to set a global stylesheet for all the documents in a project. It would be useful to change the global stylesheet so you can compile for print, eBook or web for example.

    Comment by MuppetGate on October 24, 2009 at 8:26 am

  4. Edwin

    This is a great idea, MuppetGate ! I have just added this to the ‘to do list’!

    Comment by Edwin on October 24, 2009 at 8:07 pm

  5. Edwin

    Hi MuppetGate,

    You also mentioned that the tables are also an issue, can you explain it a little more? Thank you.

    Comment by Edwin on October 24, 2009 at 8:11 pm

  6. MuppetGate

    Oh yes. Well to be honest, tables are going to be covered if you’re using Word as your baseline … 🙂
    Most writing apps don’t seem to cover stuff like tables and styles because they use a very simple text editor.

    While I’m here though, it would be nice if you could save and retrieve different versions of the same document.

    Comment by MuppetGate on October 24, 2009 at 11:31 pm

  7. Edwin

    Thanks for the explanation on the tables 🙂

    As for save and retrieve versions of the document, actually I have a question myself to this feature, i.e. I’m not sure if you writers prefer to save different versions of the whole project or save different versions of the individual documents (eg. chapters) separately? For example, if you are writing a book, do you want to save and retrieve ‘book version 1, 2, 3..’, or save/retrieve ‘chapter B version 1, 2, 3…’ and ‘chapter B version 1, 2, 3…’ individually?

    Comment by Edwin on October 25, 2009 at 2:33 pm

  8. MuppetGate

    That’s a good question. A bit tricky one. I reckon that the best option would be a combination of both! Save different versions of the chapters, but also allow multiple ‘draft sets’ within the project, so that

    ‘draft1′ –> chapter 1 version 2, chapter 2 version 3’

    ‘draft2’ –> chapter 1 version 3, chapter 2 version 1, chapter 3 version 4

    But when I thought about it, I reckon this would be quite hard to code up.

    If you think about it though, a change in one document (a character name for example) will most probably lead to a change in other documents too. In this case, I’d rather save a new version of the entire project rather than save all the documents with the name change.

    So if you can do both, then do both. Otherwise, save the version at the project level.

    Hope that helps … 🙂

    Comment by MuppetGate on October 25, 2009 at 3:33 pm

  9. MuppetGate

    And speaking of changes, project wide search and replace is a must.

    Comment by MuppetGate on October 25, 2009 at 3:37 pm

  10. MuppetGate

    By the way, setting a style at each node is brilliant. I could have a ‘chapter node’ that contains no text aside from a chapter heading and an auto generated chapter number, then beneath that I could have a ‘scene node’ containing text with three asterisks at the end to denote the end of the scene.

    The only problem you would have is how to tell the add-in that no asterisks are required if it is the last document in a chapter.

    Comment by MuppetGate on October 25, 2009 at 6:27 pm

  11. Edwin

    Hi Muppet,
    Thanks for your inputs.

    As for versioning, I think each ‘save a snapshot’ operation should be project level (without saving unnecessary, duplicated data), but also allow re retrieval of older versions for individual documents.

    As for global search and replace, I agree with you that it’s must.

    But I don’t quite follow you on the asterisks thingy, why 3 asterisks are needed to indicate the end of a scene, and aren’t needed for the last document in a chapter?

    Thank you.

    Comment by Edwin on October 25, 2009 at 7:44 pm

  12. MuppetGate

    Hi there.

    It’s the way novels tend to be formatted. A chapter can be made up of a number of scenes, and the scenes are separated by a symbol (usually three asterisks). The marker occurs before the start of the next scene, which is why the last scene in a chapter won’t have a marker at the end.


    Comment by MuppetGate on October 26, 2009 at 2:48 am

  13. MuppetGate

    Sorry .. hit the return key before I finished the message, I was going to give you an example.

    Chapter 1





    Comment by MuppetGate on October 26, 2009 at 2:50 am

  14. Sue

    I see this is an older discussion, but I just found your site.

    This is an Interesting question, and one that has plagued technical writers for years. Case in point, a recent discussion on the LinkedIn Technical Writers Group was as follows…”Is Framemaker more efficient than Microsoft Word?” There are currently 60 comments, and it grows daily. The general consensus is not to use Word for long documents such as technical manuals.

    I use Microsoft Word 2007 every day in my business, but when writing a technical manual, I use FrameMaker. (However, I am in the process of switching from FM to Madcap Flare for single sourcing projects.)

    My only complaints with FrameMaker and Madcap Flare are the cost and the learning curve.

    As a technical writer, my complaints with using Microsoft Word for a book project are numerous. The two biggest issues are not having Master pages and the numbering issues. I’m not talking about the Word version of a Master page; I need the FrameMaker version of a Master page, which is the same as Quark or other DTP software. Numbering is and has been a huge problem in Microsoft Word. Yes, there are workarounds, but I find they are too difficult and time consuming for the average user.

    I need numbering streams….pages, chapters, sections, tables, figures, etc. And I don’t want them to break if I insert a few paragraphs into my document! For example, try numbering a legal document in Word, then reordering a few paragraphs.

    If anyone can fix the two issues with an add-in, you will have a gem on your hands!

    I am very interested in beta testing your product.

    Comment by Sue on December 31, 2009 at 2:03 am

  15. Hi Sue,

    Welcome to jump in 🙂

    I’m very interested in that discussion you mentioned, would you give me a link?

    I think the numbering issues with Word you mentioned will be solved with this Writing Outliner software, since each time you combine an output with Writing Outliner the numbering will be re-generated base on the structure of the writing project.

    Regarding the ‘master pages’ features in FrameMaker, it seems that it’s something like page style templates which can be applied separately to each page?

    And I’m very interested in technical writing, it seems that Writing Outliner can serve this purpose very well.

    Comment by Edwin Yip on January 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm