Each document is divided into separate sections. You can see the sections for this read me file listed in the outline. As your project grows, you will use the Insert… menu above to add more sections. The section will be added at the point that makes the most sense following the part you are working on. For instance, if you add a Chapter, it will be inserted into your project after the chapter you are currently working on.
Changing the appearance of your project
Just so you know itâ€™s there, in the Project Settings window under the Project menu there is a tab called Appearance. That is where you can set the default fonts and paragraph styles, so you can forget about them and get on with the writing. It is much more efficient and versatile to set the appearance there, rather than formatting the text directly. Iâ€™ll go into it more later.
OK, hereâ€™s one of my favorite features. Youâ€™ve already seen them over there on the left side of the window. Margin notes. For me, most of my notes apply to a specific part of the narrative. Alas, they usually refer to things that need to be fixed. Rather than agonize over a phrase and lose track of the point I am trying to make, Iâ€™ll jot a little note in the margin to come back and look at it when Iâ€™m in more of an editing frame of mind. That way when Iâ€™m on a creative roll I can ignore the nitty gritty for now but not worry about overlooking it later.
Thatâ€™s not to say that margin notes arenâ€™t good for other things, too. Sometimes I will put the purpose for the paragraph in the margin: â€œdemonstrates that terrorist is positively motivatedâ€. Then I can go back later and see if what I wrote really accomplished its goal. Sometimes I put a note like â€œconsider moving to chapter 3,â€ or some other structural idea. When I send work to other Jerâ€™s Novel Writer users I create a note category for their comments. Every day I come up with a new use for margin notes.
To get started, thatâ€™s all you have to know about the notes. Write away, hit Cmd-M, bang out a note, Cmd-M again to close the note and off you go. You may even want to hide the little dragger bars at the top of the notes so they donâ€™t distract you.
Speaking of the dragger bars, you can scoot your notes around to keep things tidy, and if you drag the note over your text you can change where it is attached.
Later, when it comes time to edit your work, youâ€™ll appreciate the richness of the margin note system. Youâ€™ve seen that some of the notes have different colors and different text styles. In fact you can define different kinds of notes to track certain issues. You could have one category of note for continuity, and when youâ€™re checking continuity you could show only that category. That way when youâ€™re zooming through the text, continuitizing away, you can get straight to the issues that matter. Of course, you can hide the margin notes completely as well.
Thereâ€™s a nice little window with all your margin note categories under the Project menu. There you can define how the notes look and which ones are visible.
Iâ€™m using margin notes in this document a little differently than I do when Iâ€™m writing a novel. Since my audience all has Jerâ€™s Novel Writer, I can use the notes to write messages to you, as well as to myself. Alas, when you export your work to be read in other word processors, the margin notes are left behind.
Every word processor, every program that is supposed to help you write, should have margin notes. I promise you, one day of writing with margin notes and you will not go back. At least, if youâ€™re like me you wonâ€™t.
Youâ€™ve probably already noticed the drawer sticking out the side of this window. If there is no drawer sticking out, click the Open Drawer button at the upper right of this window. Click the outline tab. Thereâ€™s the whole Read Me file, laid out for you. To expand the entire outline at once, hold down the option key when you click the little arrow thingie.
You can use the outline to plan where youâ€™re going or to see where youâ€™ve been. As you add sections to your story, the outline grows. Most people, I think, add the sections as they write, but if you are blessed with the knowledge of where youâ€™re going you can create the sections and then go back and fill them in.
The highlighted line represents the section you are working on right now. Click RIGHT HERE. Did you see the highlight move?
Most of the time I use the outline to look up things I have already written. If you click on any line in the outline view, you will jump right to that spot. Go ahead and try it. Jump around a bit, then come back here. How do you do that? The Back arrow above works just like the one in a browser. Wherever you roam, you can find your way home with that.
You may have noticed that the background color behind the text changes a bit between text sections. Thatâ€™s just to help you see where one section ends and the next begins. You can change the color or turn the feature off completely.
The Database Tab
As long as we are rummaging through the drawer, letâ€™s take a moment to look at the database tab.
What you see is a list of the characters that are around me right now, as I am writing this. Normally what you would see is a list of the people, places and other stuff in your story. Find a name that looks interesting and double-click it.
Thereâ€™s nothing fancy here, just a handy way to keep track of all the people who move through your story. I canâ€™t tell you how many times Iâ€™ve gone back to try to find the part of the story where the woman meets a man at the bar, and I canâ€™t remember the manâ€™s name. Three months later, itâ€™s time for him to show up again. I end up reading twenty pages of my story just to look up his name. While I am reading, I start editing. Talk about a momentum-breaker.
Now I have a list of all the people and what they are like. Earlier today I read a post concerning another tool for writers, and he said, more or less (I donâ€™t remember exactly), â€œI donâ€™t need something to keep track of the names of my characters, I have my memory for that.â€ That might describe you, too, but in my current story Iâ€™ve got about seventy-five characters, most of whom are just passing through, but you never know when it would be totally juicy to have them show up again. Perhaps a quick check on what you wrote before will protect you from writing a senseless contradiction.
This program is all about keeping your momentum when the juices are flowing. You donâ€™t want to break your momentum filling in information about characters, either, so thereâ€™s a shortcut for that. Letâ€™s have a little fun.
Write your name here:
Write a short description of yourself here:
Itâ€™s OK, no one else will ever see it.
Now, select your name. Control-click your name (if you have a two-button mouse, right-click the name). A menu will pop up. Choose Add to Database and your name is now part of the character list. Now select the description you wrote. Control-click again and choose Add to the Description of… and choose your name from the submenu.
Check yourself out in the Database Window. Youâ€™re part of the read me now!
Now take a look at the categories. You can put any item in the database into any number of categories, and you can put categories inside other categories as well. Put the cursor in the categories field for the database entry you just created, and type â€œpâ€. The program looks at all the categories that have been defined and guesses what you want. Itâ€™s a standard Mac token field, so it will work the way you expect. Now type in the category â€œUserâ€. There wasnâ€™t a category with that name before, so the program will ask you if you want to create it.
But users are people, too! Perhaps it would make the most sense for you to drag the User folder into the People category. Itâ€™s up to you how to organize the categories; whatever works best for your project.
The Notes Tab
The last tab is the Notes tab. Itâ€™s just what it looks like. You can write stuff there. It will remember what you wrote. This is good for general notes that apply to your story as a whole. You can organize your notes into pages, as well.
Hiding the toolbar
Some people like their writing environment clean. I use the standard Apple toolbar technology, so you have control over it. Under the View menu you can configure the toolbar and modify its appearance. The handy little bubble at the top right of this window lets you hide the toolbar completely, and will bring it back for you later. I was surprised at how pleasant it was to make the toolbar go away.
Full Screen Mode
If hiding the tool bar isnâ€™t clean enough for you, you can hit Cmd-Shift-F and pop into full screen mode. You can control the color and magnification of your text in full screen mode from the preferences dialog. Full-screen mode is a feature that is here because of feedback from users like you. It never would have occurred to me, but I do like it.
Other Handy Bits
Each part of the project has a default font associated with it. You can set those fonts in the Project Settings window under the Appearance tab.
There is a spelling checker that works in the standard Apple way – you can right-click a word for suggestions or you can turn on Check Spelling as You Type under the Edit menu.
You can show a ruler and copy and paste rulers between text sections. If you format a bit of text exactly the way you want it, and make it the default by Ctrl-clicking and choosing â€œMake this style the default.â€ Your new style will be applied to all text that used the old default, but specially-formatted text will be left alone.
For a long time, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) was a big deal in word processors. However, what works best on the screen is not always what you need to print. Jerâ€™s Novel Writer has tried to make a step toward What You Want Is What You Get. You can create completely different appearance settings for when you print, even showing or hiding information.
Cmd-shift-B sets a bookmark and allows you to define the Cmd-number key that will jump you to it. When your cursor is at the bookmark, you can clear it.