Novel Structure

This section covers the structure of a novel project.

It concerns documents under the Novel type root folder only. There are some restrictions and features that only apply to these types of documents.

Importance of Headings

Subfolders under root folders have no impact on the structure of the novel itself. The structure is instead dictated by the heading level of the headers within the documents.

Four levels of headings are supported, signified by the number of hashes (#) preceding the title. See also the Formatting Your Text section for more details about the markdown syntax.

Note

The header levels are not only important when generating the exported novel file, they are also used by the indexer when building the outline tree in the Outline tab as well as the Novel tab of the project tree. Each heading also starts a new region where new references and tags can be defined.

The syntax for the four basic header types, and the two special header types, is listed in section Headings. The meaning of the four levels for the structure of your novel is as follows:

Header Level 1: Partition
This header level signifies that the text refers to a top level partition. This is useful when you want to split the manuscript up into books, parts, or acts. These headings are not required. The novel title itself should use the special header level one code explained in Headings.
Header Level 2: Chapter
This header level signifies a chapter level partition. Each time you want to start a new chapter, you must add such a heading. If you choose to split your manuscript up into one document per scene, you need a single chapter document with just the heading. You can of course also add a synopsis and reference keywords to the chapter document. If you want to open the chapter with a quote or other introductory text that isn’t part of a scene, this is also where you’d put that text.
Header Level 3: Scene
This header level signifies a scene level partition. You must provide a title text, but the title text can be replaced with a scene separator or just skipped entirely when you export your manuscript.
Header Level 4: Section
This header level signifies a sub-scene level partition, usually called a “section” in the documentation and the user interface. These can be useful if you want to change tag references mid-scene, like if you change the point-of-view character. You are free to use sections as you wish, and can filter them out of the final manuscript just like with scene titles.

Page breaks are automatically added before level 1 and 2 headers when you export your project to a format that supports page breaks, or when you print the document directly from the build tool. If you want page breaks in other places, you have to specify them manually. See Vertical Space and Page Breaks.

Tip

There are multiple options of how to process novel titles when exporting the manuscript. For instance, chapter numbers can be applied automatically, and so can scene numbers if you want them in a draft manuscript. See the Exporting Projects page for more details.

Novel Title and Front Matter

It is recommended that you add a document at the very top of your project with the novel title as the first line. You should modify the level 1 header format code with an ! in order to render it as a document title that is excluded from any automatic Table of Content in an exported document, like so:

#! My Novel

The title is by default centred on the page when exported. You can add more text to the page as you wish, like for instance the author’s name and details.

If you want an additional page of text after the title page, starting on a fresh page, you can add [NEW PAGE] on a line by itself, and continue the text after it. This will insert a page break when the project is exported.

Unnumbered Chapter Headings

If you use the automatic numbering feature for your chapters, but you want to keep some special chapters separate from this, you cam add a ! to the level 2 header formatting code to tell the build tool to skip these chapters.

##! Unnumbered Chapter Title

There is a separate formatting feature for such chapters in the Build Novel Project tool as well. See the Exporting Projects page for more details. When exporting to a format that supports page breaks, also unnumbered chapters will have a page break added just like for normal chapters.

Note

Previously, you could also disable the automatic numbering of a chapter by adding an * as the first character of the chapter title itself. This feature has been dropped in favour of the current format in order to keep level 1 and 2 headers consistent. Please update your chapter headings if you’ve used this syntax.

Tag References

Each text partition, indicated by a heading of any level, can contain references to tags set in the supporting notes of the project. The references are gathered by the indexer and used to generate an outline view on the Outline tab of how the different parts of the novel are connected. This section covers how to set references to tags. See Tags in Notes for how to define tags the references can point to.

References and tags are also clickable in the document editor and viewer, making it easy to navigate between reference notes while writing. Clicked links are always opened in the view panel.

References are set as a keyword and a list of corresponding tags. The valid keywords are listed below. The format of a reference line is @keyword: value1, [value2] ... [valueN]. All keywords allow multiple values.

@pov
The point-of-view character for the current section. The target must be a note tag in the Character type root folder.
@focus
The character that has the focus for the current section. This can be used in cases where the focus is not a point-of-view character. The target must be a note tag in the Character type root folder.
@char
Other characters in the current section. The target must be a note tag in the Character type root folder. This should not include the point-of-view character.
@plot
The plot or subplot advanced in the current section. The target must be a note tag in the Plot type root folder.
@time
The timelines touched by the current section. The target must be a note tag in the Timeline type root folder.
@location
The location the current section takes place in. The target must be a note tag in the Locations type root folder.
@object
Objects present in the current section. The target must be a note tag in the Object type root folder.
@entity
Entities present in the current section. The target must be a note tag in the Entities type root folder.
@custom
Custom references in the current section. The target must be a note tag in a Custom type root folder. You can add more than one Custom folder, but they all use the same reference keyword.

The syntax highlighter will alert the user that the tags and references are used correctly, and that the tags referenced exist.

The highlighter may be mistaken if the index of defined tags is out of date. If so, press F9 to regenerate it, or select Rebuild Index from the Tools menu. In general, the index for a document is regenerated when it is saved, so this shouldn’t normally be necessary.

Document Layout

All documents in the project can have a layout format set. Previously, there were multiple layouts available to change how the documents where formatted on export. These have now been reduced to just two layouts: Novel Document and Project Note.

Novel documents can only live in the Novel root folder. You can also move them to Outtakes and Trash of course. Project notes can be added anywhere in the project.

Depending on which icon theme you’re using, the project tree can distinguish between the different layouts and header levels of the documents to help indicate which are project notes and which are novel documents containing a partition, chapter, or scene. If the icon theme you’ve selected doesn’t show a difference, you can still see the layout description in the details panel below the project tree.

Tip

You can always start writing with a coarse setup with one or a few documents, and then later use the split tool to automatically split the documents into separate chapter and scene documents. You can split a document on any of the four header levels.