It’s Aliiiiiive! Mac360’s Writer’s Tools Week covered every word processor, add-on tool, and writing project app we could find. Some are great, some are good, all are worth a closer look.
After a few thousand words on writing apps, a few Mac360 readers asked about one tool that wasn’t on the list. Now it is. After all, a good writer’s tool is still good even if it doesn’t get updated every month, right?
A Novel Story On Novel Writing
Why didn’t we include Jer’s Novel Writer in our list of The Top 20 Best Mac Writer’s Tools?
Funny you should ask. It’s not that it wasn’t worthy. It is. The app simply hadn’t been updated in a year or two and that raised a red flag. We like to see ongoing, active development in Mac apps.
We don’t have a specific rule for how long an app should go without an update, but a year or two years is too long. Lo and behold, less than a week after my Top 20 list Jer’s Novel Writer skyrocketed to version 1.1.11 from 1.1.10.
What You See Isn’t What You Get
To be fair and honest, Jer’s Novel Writer is a labor of love. There’s a modest description of what JNW does. The basic features list. There’s a link or two. A few bug fix notes. And not much more.
Features and benefits? Only the basics are covered (and JNW is basic). Price tag? Send money if you like it. JNW starts life on your Mac with the typical license information, described as Legal Junk. Once started, JNW pops up an Official Nag Window. The nags increase the longer you don’t pay.
The first look at features comes with the first document that JNW opens. Read Me.
Plain and simple is an apt description of Jer’s Novel Writer.
Each document is divided into separate sections, called Inserts. Insert sections wherever you choose. It’s an unorthodox yet logical way to organize elements within a document—your novel. JNW uses the built-in OS X fonts manager to style your document, but changes can also be made in the Project Settings window (recommended).
The pop up palette displays writing stats, but not in real time.
Preferences are more extensive and give you control over colors (for Inserts), quotes, auto save, the distraction free full screen mode, and a few alerts.
One advantage JNW has over typical word processors is Margin Notes. Jer likes ‘em. I like ‘em. If you’re developing a novel, you’ll like them, too.
Margin Notes are a great way to apply specific notes to a specific part of the document—a running commentary on who, what, when, where, why and more. Use the keystroke combo to invoke the Notes Manager.
That’s powerful stuff and a function you won’t find in most word processors. To use it is to like it. You won’t be distracted by the limited distraction, limited feature toolbar.
Documents can be saved in native format as well as RTF, text, Word, and XHTML (for web pages).
Considering the features and power, Jer’s Novel Writer could do a better job of promoting itself (features and benefits) so spend some time in the Read Me to explore some of the more powerful features.
For example, JNW has outlining built in.
There’s the database which holds character information (or, anything else).
Outline resides in a tabbed sidebar with Notes. The entire outline can be collapsed (or opened) with a click, or one section at a time. Truly, Jer’s Novel Writer thinks different. The feature focus is completely on those functions beneficial to writers (not users of word processors). I found it solid and dependable and able to chew through documents of many hundreds of pages.
If writing is your game and you don’t need all the bells and whistles, Jer’s Novel Writer is worth a close look. The Margin Notes feature alone is worth the price of admission.