Thoughts on a better noveling tool

Revision as of 09:57, 11 October 2012 by NewMexicoKid (talk | contribs) (Mock-up)


Papel, a brilliant novel-writing freeware package available for Windows, has several features that are truly wonderful for novelists:

  1. You can insert the papel anywhere on the page and drag it around
  2. Each papel has some meta information associated with it
  3. Each papel points to a simple text file that can be called up at any time and edited
  4. Autosave
  5. Merging of linked scene papels into a chapter papel
  6. Wordcount

Amazing as all of this is, however, Papel doesn't quite get to where I'd like it to be:

  1. No automated way to use ViM or the editor of my choice
  2. No way to drag whole linked groups of papels around.
  3. The playground area is limited and over time becomes cluttered
  4. Papel is freeware but it isn't Open Source software and there is now way to get in touch with the author (Michael O'Donnell) and he is abandoning the project.

The Idea

So I thought, if I could learn how to code a GUI, maybe I could create the next great noveling tool. Or if someone else knew how to do this, they could look at these requriements and do it for me (and all novelists out there).

The requirements

  1. Introduce the concept of clusters. There can be vertical clusters of scenes that build into chapters. There can be horizontal clusters of characters, ideas, meta information, plot, etc.
  2. Present two work areas, both unlimited:
    1. The top area is the idea area that holds background information to the story. Characters, plot, setting, etc. It is free-form as Papel is but one can drag clusters and/or groups of objects around as needed.
    2. The bottom area is the novel area. It is much more structured than what Papel offers. The top row shows horizontally the chapters. When double clicked, one gets the editor of their choice to edit the file that contains meta information about the chapter (like the chapter title). Below the chapter row are the scenes that make up each chapter. When one inserts (via drag and drop from the palette) new scenes, they automatically want to go into a chapter. Scenes can be easily moved around between chapters or within one.
  3. Options include specifying the editor of your choice
  4. There are differently colored linkages possible in the idea section. Want to make a family tree or express connectivity of ideas?
  5. Wordcount is automatically and continuously displayed
  6. Like google maps, one can navigate each of the two areas by grabbing the area directly and moving it with the mouse. There are also scroll bars for those who prefer that control.
  7. Meta information is stored in an XML format. Just as with Papel, there will be a meta info .ppl for each object and an underlying text file
  8. Options will include:
    1. Automatically putting in Chapter title strings on export
    2. Specifying text that goes between scenes (e.g., ...)
    3. Specifying text that goes between chapters
  9. Chapter clusters can be rearranged horizontally (reordered) through drag and drop



What next?

I have submitted the above ideas to sourceforge in the hopes of developing this as an open source software project called Romanzo (which is Italian for novel).