Writing App Reviews: Novlr

by Apr 18, 2018, 0 Comments

At ProWritingAid, we’re all about technology that helps you write. In this post, we will review Novlr, an online writing app that can help you capture your thoughts simply and easily. If you’ve been looking for a word processing program with a few extras, check out Novlr.

Getting started

You can sign up for a free trial to check out Novlr before you commit to purchasing it. Once you’ve created your account, you’ll get a screen asking you to name your novel. It’s good to know you can always change the title later. Here’s what that screen looks like:

Once you’ve titled your novel, the app walks you through a quick tutorial to let you know how to move about and do a few things. While Novlr is simple and easy to use, it’s worth doing this tutorial.

Moving around in Novlr

The first screen you’ll see will be a general note page with an overview of how Novlr works. Take some time and read through the notes. You’ll notice the menu bar on the left-hand side of your screen is split into two sections: one for your novel and the other for planning. This helps you keep your WIP and notes separate while still saving them together in one app.

In the upper left-hand corner of the above screenshot is an icon that will close the side menu bar. When you’re ready to work, you can close the left-hand side and have a distraction-free page on which to pour out your soul. To get the menu bar back, just click the icon again.

Now notice in the above screenshot the "X" in the upper right-hand side of the screen. This takes you to the settings, preferences, and statistics portion of the program. You can easily set word goals for the day, month, or year, and track them on a single dashboard. Then when you’re ready, you can export your WIP to a ".docx", ".pdf" or ".odt" format. Here’s a screenshot of the dashboard:

On the menu to the right side of the above screenshot, the Writing Stats section shows you how many words you’ve written today, this month, this year, and what your average word count is per day. It also displays hours and minutes you’ve written for the day, month, and year.

Writing Preferences let you select what options show up in your toolbar, your font size, and a few modes from which to choose. Focus Mode fades the toolbar and header out of your writing screen so you can focus only on your words. There’s even a day/evening/night mode to select the screen ambiance you prefer.

Here’s what Focus Mode combined with Night Mode looks like on your screen as you type:

There’s nothing to distract you, so you can focus on your words.

Other options are Goals, which let you set specific writing goals that Novlr automatically tracks for you; Integrations, which let you back up your WIP to Google Drive or Dropbox; and Publishing, which lets you format and publish your novel in "epub" or "mobi" formats.

Writing in Novlr

Its simplicity is its beauty. You can create chapters easily by clicking on "Add new chapter," and you can move your chapters around by dragging them where you want them. If you like to format as you go, highlight the text you’d like to format and the toolbar instantly pops up.

Notice the buttons in the bottom right-hand corner of the above screenshot? The top button is a proofreader that you can turn on as you type if you like to edit as you go. Second from the top, this button lets you switch on comments so you and others can annotate your text.

And the last button lets you see past versions of your WIP. Novlr saves your WIP in time segments. That way, you can make some drastic changes to your novel and still revert to a previous version if you don’t like it. Here’s what the versions screen looks like:

Clicking on the icon in the upper left-hand corner brings up your menu bar on the right-hand side of the screen. From there, you can create a new chapter, which also allows you to import text you’ve already created elsewhere. You can choose from ".txt", ".rtf", ".docx", or ".odt" formats to import.

When you import other work, it takes the entire document into a single chapter. But you can split it down into other chapters by double-clicking where you want to split, and choosing "Split chapter" from the toolbar.

Finally, use the separate Planning section of the left-hand menu bar to capture your notes, character sketches, a synopsis, and more. When you click on "Add new note" at the bottom of the Planning section, you can create a new note or import. This allows you to import content you created in other programs into Novlr as a new note. That way, you can easily bring notes from other programs to keep everything in one place.

Working offline

One of the best features of Novlr is the ability to work offline. In fact, if you lose your internet connection while writing, you won’t even notice a change. The program will float a small message at the bottom stating you’re working offline, and your browser caches everything until you get internet again. Then Novlr automatically saves your work to its cloud storage where it is safe and secure, waiting for you to continue writing.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for something a lot simpler than Scrivener to write your novel, Novlr fits the bill. It’s clean, straightforward, and so easy to use.

The website states they’re working on new features, updates, and more. Two things currently in the pipeline for a future version are character profiles and outlining/planning/timeline. For those who like to plan, this should be great news.

Give Novlr a whirl. Their free trial makes it an easy decision to test how well it fits your writing needs. Then let us know in the comments below what you think.

Looking for more info about writing apps? Check out these posts:

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