The Novel Factory helps guide new writers through the novel writing process—while completing your first manuscript. It also contains heaps of useful templates, resources and intuitive interactive features to help novelists of all levels of experience save time, and get a better grip on both the big picture and the tiny details.
In this live walkthrough, creator of The Novel factory, Katja Kaine, will walk you through the software and answer your questions so you can work out if it is the novel planning software for you.
On to the review.
ProWritingAid Reviews: The Novel Factory
Today we’re looking at one of our favourite novel writing apps—The Novel Factory.
This innovative software gives you the structure to flesh out your novel in a logical process. (Good for us planners.)
The Novel Factory contains a wealth of useful tools for writers, including plot templates, character questionnaires and plot development tools—but its clean, simple interface means there’s no steep learning curve.
In this article we’ll explore the main features of The Novel Factory, to help you decide if it might be helpful for you.
Who Is The Novel Factory For?
If you love nothing more than creating a bullet proof plot structure; developing complex characters and exploring their inner and outer values; and researching the senses and details of your locations, then The Novel Factory is definitely for you.
With its dedicated sections for plotting, characters, locations, and even items, The Novel Factory at its core is a way to easily keep track of all the complex data associated with a novel, so you’re not constantly hunting around in drawers or digging through notebooks.
But there is another key feature aimed at new writers—which is the Novel Writing Roadmap.
This is essentially a step-by-step guide to writing a novel that teaches you how to take your initial idea and turn it into a watertight premise, develop it into a compelling plot, create your cast of characters, and bring it all together into a polished manuscript.
You follow the steps while completing your novel, so it’s practice and theory all rolled into one.
How Does The Novel Factory Work?
The Novel Factory has all its major areas accessible via a navigation menu down the left-hand side. These are the sections:
- Premises and Synopses
- Plot Manager
- Subplot Manager
We won’t go into every one of the sections in detail here as it would take too long. Instead, we’ll focus on what we see as the most useful features.
Can Software Teach Me to Write A Novel?
The Writing Roadmap
The Roadmap is similar to the Snowflake method of novel writing, where you start with a simple idea and methodically expand on it until you have a whole novel.
This incredibly detailed novel writing guide takes you through each step in the process of building your novel:
- Beginning with your premise (or what your story is about)
- Fleshing out your story arc (they call it the plot outline)
- Identifying your characters
- Writing a short synopsis (and they do mean short) to give you a general idea of how the story unfolds. Just the highlights.
- Writing an extended synopsis by filling in a lot more of the details.
- Generating scenes to fill in your narrative
- Generating detailed character sketches
- Building your story's world
- High level plotting where you figure out how to weave together all of your plot details
- Going deeper into your character’s viewpoints
- Scene blocking
- And much more…
Eventually, you pull everything together and your manuscript is ready for submission.
It even walks you through the submission process (whether you’re sending to a publisher or an agent) and how to format your manuscript professionally. The software even helps you write your cover letter.
Each step includes a detailed article explaining the theory, and there are supporting videos and examples from bestselling novels. If you like working within a structure, there are plenty of templates and other supporting resources to help you out.
Each step concludes with a manageable task for you to complete, and builds on the step before.
It Teaches You Along the Way
What makes this program so useful is that instead of reading about the process in a book or through a bunch of articles, you learn as you write. The app walks you through each step, teaching you more about the process of writing a novel as you go and helping you put together something cohesive and coherent.
It’s like having a mentor looking over your shoulder, telling you what to do next and how and why you should do it.
What Tools Does The Novel Factory Have For Plotting and Planning?
The Plot Manager
In the Plot Manager, you can create the overview of your core plot using index cards, either starting from a blank page, or using one of the Plot Templates provided:
- The Hero’s Journey
- Character Driven Hero’s Journey
- Detective Noir
- Mystery / Crime Thriller
- Short Story
Each of the plot templates explains the different beats of the structure, what their purpose is and how you might use them. Then you can shuffle, add and delete parts of your plot arc until it’s perfect.
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As well as the Plot Manager, there’s a dedicated Subplot Manager to help you keep track of your novel’s subplots and make sure everything is woven together tightly.
In the Subplot Manager, you can add subplots for characters, themes, mysteries, or anything else you want to track, then easily drag and drop the plot elements.
How Can Software Help With Character Development?
The character section is pretty cool, and allows you to explore many different aspects of your character.
As well as noting down basic details such as appearance, eye colour, occupation, and the like, you can explore aspects which will affect their arc, such as internal and external motivations, flaws, and positive and negative traits.
There’s also a section for Voice, Friends and Family, and a bunch of other panels exploring all kinds of character aspects.
If you’re a visual thinker, you can add multiple pictures to each of your characters, to help you picture their features, body type, clothing etc as you write.
Character Viewpoint Synopsis
My other favourite part is the “Character Viewpoint Synopses”. This allows you to explore each scene from each character’s point of view. You’re pushed to think about what they were doing before and after each scene, and how they view events, which might differ from the central point of view. When you track character perspective, characters are much more likely to come across as three dimensional and having their own lives “off the page”.
Can I Write and Plan In The Same Place?
As mentioned above, one of the core features of the software is its data organisation.
It’s like a dedicated digital filing cabinet for novel writers.
As well as sections for your characters and locations, you can keep track of important items, and use the note-taking board to add text notes, images, links, and even checklists.
And it doesn’t just keep things tidy and organised, it helps the creative flow further by displaying useful related data as you’re writing in the Related Info sidebar. All sorts of useful information can be linked together, such as adding characters to scenes, or linking characters with particular locations.
Plus you can note down data relating to each scene, such as time, weather and conflict development.
Where Can I Track My Novel Statistics?
There are a bunch of other tools in the software, including:
- Statistics to keep track of your word count and progress against targets
- Exporting, so you can transfer all your data easily to Word*
- Timelines—for viewing scenes and events chronologically*
*These features aren’t available in the software yet—we were lucky enough to try them out a little early. They’ll be available soon.
The Novel Factory packs a punch—if you can think of a tool you might need to plan or keep track of your novel writing, it probably has it. This could be a little overwhelming, but I found that the way the different guides and tools are laid out helps you navigate them pretty easily.
If you’re a pantser, this may seem like overkill—but having one place to store all of the information about your novel will help you out in the long run when you need to know which side of a character’s face a mole is on (trust me).
Plus, even if you don’t use all of the features, you’ll still be getting tons of useful tools that will make a real difference to your writing process.
Try It Out For Yourself
There’s much more to The Novel Factory’s program than I can go into in this limited space.
The program is accessible directly by registering online, so can be used on any device connected to the Internet—including your phone, when you’re out and about.
They offer a free 30-day free trial and give you full functionality to play around with.
They have also created a hugely detailed Step-By-Step Guide to Writing A Novel to help you chart your entire writing journey.
Let us know in the comments below what you think of The Novel Factory. We love tech that helps us write!
Disclaimer: When we find a software we love, we often reach out to the company and ask if we can help promote it. As such, this review contains affiliate links. This means if you buy it, ProWritingAid receives a small commission at no extra cost to you. It's a great way to help our team keep improving the editing technology you love.
See how The Novel Factory works live
September 28, 2PM ET/7 PM UK: The Novel Factory: Software Walkthrough and Q&A
We've invited Katja Kaine, creator of The Novel Factory, to show us how it works in a live walkthrough. If you have any questions about the features mentioned above—or anything that wasn't mentioned—come along and ask Katja live.