I get really exited to see new, online writing tools, and apps become available to writers of all kind. There’s something about writing, or rather words, and language that feels home. At the least for someone like I. So naturally when I found out that Novlr was following me on twitter, I knew I had to register for the beta, and check them out.
I decided to write a review, while I was trying Novlr out.
Post the registration, this is where you land up after you’ve inputed the title of your novel. The title conveniently shows up on the menu bar at the top.
When I first landed on the home page, the first thing that struck me was the well thought out logo, this was only confirmed for me when frivolewis resonated with what I felt when I first looked at Novlr’s logo. It’s not easy to convey what you’re all about in your logo. No sir! We know, because Daily Write. The registration process is quick, and logging in went smoothly.
Here’s what I think of Novlr.
The Writing Interface
Right off the bat, Novlr claims to offer distraction free writing. And I am huge fan of precisely that. That’s why I love Desk so much! Continuing on with the review, I see that it does offer a huge area dedicated for writing, and just that. Nothing else. There’s a big, dark navy blue navigation bar that sits on top of the document editor. On the left hand side there’s the title of the novel, and a menu icon that brings out the sliding side menu. The sliding menu lists all the chapters I am working on, as well as the option to add more chapters to the novel, and rearranging the order of chapters. It also shows me the title of my novel, and if I click on the title it does let me change it.
The sidebar can be tucked away just by clicking the top menu icon (the bookmark-style-three-lines-menu-icon). Once hidden, all you see is a big white screen, and your words. Which I like, a lot. I only wished they had an option to turn the screen dark, or offer some basic theming options. And options to change font sizes, column layout size, and basic typography options. I hope that will be coming soon, but at the time of writing this post I can’t seem to locate it, if it’s already there. So I am assuming it isn’t.
On the left hand side of the navigation bar there’s my username, and a minimalistic settings/tooling icon.
Clicking on the settings icon reveals a dropdown list with three links - Settings, Report a Bug, and Logging out. Clicking on the setting’s navigation link reveals a modal with three tabs. Very minimalistic, which is good! The setting’s modal offers you a basic information about your account, like the number of novels you have, the chapters you have, and the number of words you’ve typed in so far. This, along with some information about your account. The second tab on the settings modal lets you export your document, currently at the time of writing this post Novlr provides three types of export options - Word (.docx), PDF, and ODT. The last tab on the settings pane is where you can pay for your account, albeit they aren’t taking any payments now, and want you to use Novlr. They also promise to keep your work, yours. Kudos!
When I take a pause, and look around I see a bottom bar tucked away in a very non-distracting, discrete manner. I like the attention they have paid there. Making sure it doesn’t stand out. On the bottom bar I see text formatting options on the left hand side, and meta data about the current document/chapter on the left hand side. The meta data is limited to the chapter name, the status of this chapter, and the word count. Which is nice, I hope they introduce a setting, or an option that would allow me to keep track of character count, and some other meta data too.
Another thing I want to add about the interface is that when you click on the settings link in the navigation bar, or use the text formatting options below on the left hand side of the bottom bar, the clicks made make the page jump up as shown in the video embedded above.
That’s all there’s is to Novlr, for now.
What’s Coming, & What You Can Expect Right Now From Novlr.
Let’s see I have been trying to get to a dashboard, or a personal home page of sorts where I can add more novels from. I can’t seem to figure out how to get there. Most probably it’s still in the works. If that’s the case, which I think it is, then at the time of writing this post you can only write one novel. Which is fine, for now. Because I am sure that when authors, and writers do start using this beta they wouldn’t start with something that’s already written, or wouldn’t start with more than one novel.
After browsing through their website, and looking up the features that they list there, I was a little disappointed to see much of what is mentioned as a feature set on the features page not available in this version of the public beta. For e.g. Novlr lists a fact that they offer each character their own page, so that you may build your character history, and profile to it’s fullest. These character pages let you take notes, upload images, and videos, and what not. After logging in I’ve seem to either not understand how to set a character page up, or this feature is not yet released into public beta.
So some interesting features seem to be missing for now. But I assume here that this will not be the case, and these features would be released with the next update to their beta. However, I would suggest making a note on the features page, and letting people know what to expect, and what to wait for when they are signing up. I was really looking forward to checking out the character page, and all it has to offer.
Right now, with Novlr the way it is, you can get writing your first, or your newest novel. It’s a pleasure writing in this interface. It does lack, or seems a little bare with respect to what’s promised on the features page, but I also think that Novlr has a ton of potential. If I had to recommend changes to this interface it would be in terms of maybe make formatting text a little easier, by not stashing away formatting options on the bottom left side of the screen. Instead maybe do what Medium.com does?
Will I Use Novlr To Write A Novel?
Yes, I will. I will be using Novlr to write a novel in November as I am looking forward to this year's NaNoWriMo. I also think that Novlr should get in touch with them, and somehow start a partnership of sorts. But that's just me, thinking aloud. I am even thinking about funding Novlr, and paying the 100USD for their heroes program. Not that I want to be hero, or anything but I like what I see. And I see a lot of potential! Cheers Novlr!
I would recommend Novlr, at the time of writing this post, to someone who's just starting out with her first novel, or to someone who's starting on a new one.