Writing a book is easy, ask anyone. All you’ve got to do is sit down, grab your tool of choice and the words will flow quickly and easily. Not. Sure, the late Barbara Cartland may have managed to produce an astonishing 23 novels in 1983 (for which she holds the Guinness World Record for most novels in a year) but for ordinary joes trying to get a book out of the head and onto paper can be a Herculean task.
Enter Now Novel, an online service which aims to provide all the support a budding novelist needs to get their novel from idea to production. Now the idea of a novelist helper is not new, there are a ton of writer tools out there such as Write It Now and Scrivener. But these tools typically offer conventional writing tools such as thesaurus, character creation and the other bits and pieces that are needed. What they don’t offer is a full blown hand-holding service which aims to push push push you to finish your tome.
Now Novel doesn’t focus on the actual writing tool part of the exercise so much as the motivation and expert guidance. The service starts by giving you a selection of tools to help you get started on the quest for that blockbuster. You fill out a bunch of simple questionnaires relating to the theme, mood, and character and then the service will start to help you test your ideas and fill in any blanks.
At every stage of the process there are helpful video tutorials which are there to explain what you need to do at this stage, and it is this type of thing that all the other writer tools lack. Once you have filled out all the necessary bits, you should have a good starting ‘blueprint’ with which to get scribbling or typing or whatever. You can even download the blueprint in PDF format to refer to.
The one thing to note is that while the basic service is free, many of the most important sections, such as plot, story type and theme are only available if you pay to upgrade, and since the cheapest option is $29 a month, this is not a frivolous commitment. But maybe that’s a good thing? If you’re going to really knuckle down and get the book written, it feels as though having to pay to demonstrate your resolve is a good motivator.
But the really serious stuff comes when you start paying $49 a month and above, because at these stages you get a real live mentor who
comes and lives in your house engages with you at every step of the way via Skype chats and email etc. This is the kind of motivation that could really make the difference in whether you get something out the door or not.
The top tier plan, at $99 a month, also throws in a full editor who will clean up your sloppy prose and make it glisten, at least up to 3000 words a month. Of course, as you’d expect, there’s also a forum available for those who can’t afford the full monty, which offers some solid group hug support and advice for budding writers on the journey.
All in all, this is a really interesting approach to the whole writing process, and one which seems to combine the best the Web has to offer, with plain common sense tools to get you started and continuing. Yes it is expensive if you’re going to take full advantage of the mentoring and other more sophisticated tools, but committing to, say, 6 months of subscriptions seems as good a way as any to encouraging people to stop faffing around and get it done. Nice.