Guide to Manuscripts

rank-master
 
Manuscripts are a Guild Feature for Masters an above ranks!
If you want to use this feature, please consider supporting World Anvil!
  Manuscripts is the novel-writing software of World Anvil. You can use it to write, edit, and even publish your stories with a seamless integration with your world. This page will guide you through the process of creating, editing, and publishing a Manuscript on World Anvil.  

Writing interface

The Writing interface looks like this:  

manuscripts write layout.png

  The top bar has some options to toggle the sidebars, a button to add new chapters ("folders"), scenes ("texts"), or images. There's also a search bar (for both the Manuscript and your world's contents) and then some buttons to toggle between write, review and read (more on these two later).   The left sidebar is the list of all chapters and scenes of your Manuscript. Click on any scene to edit it, and click on a chapter to get a detailed list of scenes. Clicking the Manuscript name will take you to the Manuscript's settings. Drag and drop any element of this sidebar to change its position in the structure tree.   The right sidebar contains options for each of the elements of the Manuscript. Depending on the elements you have selected (Manuscript, chapter, or scenes) the available options will change.  

Configuring your Manuscript

Click on your Manuscript title in the left sidebar to see all of the settings available, which will appear in the central section of the interface; use them to change the Manuscript title, the summary, the cover, and more. Use the Access tab to change who can see the Manuscript, and the Labels tab to set labels that you can then use to organize your scenes (note that these labels are only visible to you —they are meant to be used for organization purposes).  

manuscript general settings.png

 
manuscript setting sidebar tabs.gif
In the right sidebar, you can also have several options and utilities:
  • Interface settings —change the font size, line height, and more. This will affect the text editor, not the Manuscript's presentation.
  • Stats: including current manuscript word count, likes, and comments.
  • Monetization options: use them to set your Patreon and Ko-fi pages, as well as a custom access denied and marketing messages.
  • Exporting. You can use this to export your Manuscript in HTML format. You can also get a BBCode tag to embed the Manuscript anywhere on World Anvil.
 

Chapter settings

manuscript chapter sidebar.gif
When you click on a chapter, the central section of the page has a list of the chapter's scenes with some details (such as word count and labels). The right sidebar has three tabs:  
  • General information: change the chapter title, the synopsis, and some notes for yourself. You can also embed rich media (such as audio or videos), add a label (which you can configure in the Manuscript settings), set the POV character, and some tags.
  • Chapter details: you can specify some details about the chapter, such as the time of the day, its importance in the plot, and others.
  • Other settings: choose who can see this chapter. You can also use this tab to move the chapter to the trash.
 

Scene settings

The main body of this interface has the text editor, where you can write the scene itself. The right sidebar has four tabs with different options:  
manuscript scene sidebar.gif
  • General information: change the scene title, synopsis, and notes.
  • Tags and related article: use the second tab to change the tags, labels, and POV character of the scene. You can also add related article to the scene, such as characters and locations.
  • Scene details: similar to the chapter details, add the time of the day, importance to the plot, etc.
  • Settings: change if the scene will be private or public and get a BBCode tag to link to this part. You can also use this tab to move the scene to the trash.
 

Review interface

Click the Review button on the top right to access this interface. The goal of this interface is to let you quickly organize your Manuscript's content structure. When you click on a chapter or on the Manuscript as a whole, you get a list of all of its contained elements. For a chapter, it's all of its scenes; for the Manuscript, it's all of its chapters:  

manuscripts review chapter.png

  You can use this list to edit the synopsis of each elements and set their labels. Clicking the pencil button will take you to the write interface for the selected scene, and the trash button will move the scene to the Bin. Use the buttons below to create new texts or folders within the selected element.  

Read interface and publishing your Manuscript

This mode is pretty self-explanatory. Simply click any folder or text to read it! The text you read in this interface will look very similar to how your readers will view it, so use it as a preview before publishing the Manuscript!  

Publishing your Manuscript

manuscript publish chapter.gif
You can't publish your Manuscript all at once. Instead, you will have to do it chapter by chapter. When you publish the first chapter, your Manuscript will also be published and a notification will be sent to all of your followers. Keep in mind that publishing can't be undone —once it's published, it's published forever (until you delete it). To publish a chapter, use the green Publish Chapter button in the Settings tab of the chapter (right sidebar).   Note that published does not mean public: if the Manuscript is set to Private in its access settings, nobody will be able to see it (unless you assign subscriber groups). Likewise, you can make individual chapters private or available to subscriber groups —perfect for monetization opportunities!   This is how your Manuscript will look like when you publish it:  

manuscript wyrd west front page.png

Want to read this book? Check out the sidebar of this guide to see it live!
  Let's quickly unpack each of the highlighted section:
  • Custom marketing message (red): you can set this text in the manuscript settings, under the Monetization tab. It will appear under the manuscript cover and also right before the comment section when you read a specific chapter.
  • Quick Manuscript data (orange): under the Manuscript title you can see quick data, namely the Manuscript's world, completion status, views, likes, comments, and a word count.
  • Backcover summary (purple): you can set that in your Manuscript's settings, under the Basic Details tab.
  • Tags (cyan): set these tabs in the Manuscript's setting too. Language tags are displayed in cyan, and NSFW tags are automatically displayed in red.
  • Table of contents (green): this is the list of folders (chapters) of the Manuscript. Each chapter all of its scenes, one after the other. If a chapter is set to private, it will have a padlock icon —clicking the chapter will take the reader to the access denied page.

FAQ

 
Can I outline a novel using Manuscripts?
You sure can! A possible workflow could be using the plot template for your outline. Using the search feature of Manuscripts, you can then look up the outline right from the Manuscripts interface.
 
What's the difference between a tag and a label?
You can define the labels in the Manuscript's settings, both their name and their assigned color. A chapter or scene can have only one label, but it can have multiple tags.
To define a new tag, just use it anywhere. The new tag will the appear in the autocomplete list every time you start typing it within the same Manuscripts.
 
How do genres work?
You can define genres in the Manuscript settings. World Anvil has an extensive list of genres and sub-genres that will appear in an auto-completion list. However, you can also type genres not in the list.
Pre-defined genres will display in green, while user-defined genres will appear grey. Languages included in the pre-defined list appear blue.
 
There are chapters or scenes that are not visible, even though they are published.
Look at the left sidebar (the structure tree) and make sure that all chapters are inside the Manuscript name. If they are on the same level, they won't be displayed. Similarly, check that all scenes are inside a chapter.
 
How do I delete an element?
For chapters, scenes, and images, use the Settings tab on their right sidebar. The red Move to Trash button will move the selected element and all of its children elements to the Bin folder. If you deleted it by accident, just uncollapse the Bin folder and drag the element back to its position.
To delete the Manuscript, go to the Manuscripts page and click the Delete button. There will be a confirmation page, but this process is irreversible —be careful!

Other guides

 

Creating a comic book

You can also use Manuscripts to create comic books! Before getting started, make sure you upload all of the pages of the comic to World Anvil using the regular method. Then, go to your Manuscript, click the small arrow next to the green + button, and choose Image:  

manuscripts add element.png

  Then, in the first text field, type the name of the image you want to add. You can optionally add a caption that will appear under the image. If you want multiple images in a chapter, create an Image element for each individual file and make sure to drag them all under the same folder.   Keep in mind that Manuscripts is not an image editor, so you can't use it to actually write speech bubbles or other textual elements inside the image.  

The power of search

The search bar is a powerful feature that lets you search both your Manuscript's contents and your world's articles! Type anything in the search bar and look at the sidebar, where two new tabs will appear.   The first one are Manuscript occurrences, which will be highlighted with their scene's label color (if any) —click any of them to jump to its scene. You can also use the search & replace tool at the bottom of the search results to mass-replace the search query with something else. Careful: There's no undo button!   The second tab are world occurrences: a list of articles with the search query in its title. Click the article to display it on top of the scene text editor. This is great if you have some reference articles that you need to look up often, such as your outline.  

Finding Manuscripts

When you publish a Manuscript, it is added to the community page for everyone to see! Simply go to the community homepage (from the sidebar) and choose Manuscripts in the top navigation bar.  

Embedding a Manuscript

The BBCode tag to embed a Manuscript can be found in the Manuscript settings, export tab. It generates an image of your Manuscript cover, like this one:

Once Upon a Time in the Wyrd West

  You can also link to individual Manuscript parts (both chapters and scenes/images) by going to the Settings tab in the sidebar and scrolling all the way down. Paste the [manuscriptpart:ID] tag anywhere to generate the link.

Comments

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10 Jul, 2020 17:04

Once it's published it's published forever, but can you still edit a chapter/scene that has already been published?

10 Jul, 2020 20:36

Yes, you can!

Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
12 Jul, 2020 08:58

I was going to add all chapters but now I think I will do it by chapter then furnish all scene info then maps characters etc. Once I have all the stuff related to Ch 1 then I'll move to chapter 2. I just upgraded to get the manuscript access. Ive had this account nearly a year and done nothing so time to do it!

Master Navior
Michael Ray Johnson
29 Aug, 2020 04:07

In the text editor, the first lines of paragraphs are indented, but not in the published version. I can't find a way to change this. Is there a way to get the published version to have indented first lines of paragraphs?

29 Aug, 2020 10:13

Yes! There are several editor customization options. While editing the manuscript, click on the manuscript title on the left sidebar. Then, use the options on the right of the page. "Paragraph indent" should be what you're looking for, and you can also add extra CSS rules (if you know how this works).

Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Master Navior
Michael Ray Johnson
29 Aug, 2020 15:03

I've done that, but it's not making any difference, no matter what I change the numbers to. I haven't done anything with the CSS rules though as I'm not familiar with how that works.

29 Aug, 2020 15:09

Make sure you add the measurement unit too, not only the number. Since you want to remove it, you can just type "0px" (without the quotation marks, and make sure there's no space between the 0 and the px). Make sure you refresh the page too!   Using "raw CSS" isn't necessary for that, it's just there for people who know what they are doing to customize the editor even further. But the default fields should be enough.

Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Master Navior
Michael Ray Johnson
29 Aug, 2020 15:47

Yeah, I've included units, and the published version still still has no indents. I've noticed now that the editor isn't changing either. It has indents even if I set it to 0cm (or any other unit). The published version, however, never has indents, no matter what I set the value to, and I want the published version to have indents.   I tried creating a new manuscript as well, and it's having the same issues. Maybe it's a bug?   Thanks for the help so far.

29 Aug, 2020 16:30

I apologize, I misunderstood your question! I thought you were asking about changing the editor, not the published version. There doesn't seem to be a way to change this in the published version, as far as I know. Feel free to add a feature request (not a bug report) for this feature!

Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Master Navior
Michael Ray Johnson
29 Aug, 2020 17:19

Ah, okay then. I'll put in the request. Thanks for the help!

9 Oct, 2020 09:33

Did this request get added? Because I think it's a critical one. I'd like my published manuscript to have indents on new paragraphs and also have no space between them (i.e. what a "normal" book looks like). Otherwise you can't make sensible dialogue - it just doesn't look right with spaces between paragraphs and no indents. Without this feature I wouldn't want to publish here, sadly.

Master Navior
Michael Ray Johnson
19 Oct, 2020 18:11

I put in the request but it has not been added yet. I hope that it will.

6 Sep, 2020 20:43

Can I track comments, changes, etc from beta readers and editors inside Manuscript? TIA

Ariel Purkeypile | Tenses Universe
Nesting stories, discoverable epistolaria, quantum whimsy.
Recovery is my superpower.
6 Sep, 2020 20:52

Also, is it not possible to link things inline using the @ system inside Manuscript?

Ariel Purkeypile | Tenses Universe
Nesting stories, discoverable epistolaria, quantum whimsy.
Recovery is my superpower.
7 Sep, 2020 09:57

Hi! If you have beta readers, my recommendation is that you publish the manuscript but keep it private in the Access settings of the manuscript. Then, make a subscriber group for your beta readers and add it to the manuscript so that only them can read it. They will be able to add comments to each chapter.   As for linking, the mention system doesn't work in the Manuscripts editor. Each scene can be linked to multiple articles though, using the right sidebar.

Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
9 Sep, 2020 02:50

Re: my earlier questions, with help for others on Manuscript:  

  • The right-side sidebar tags menu has fields you can use to attach articles for reference.
  • Using the search inside Manuscript returns 2 lists under icons, manuscript and world. You can click on the articles to open them in the text-only format above your manuscript doc, assuming you have one open. It's really easy to reference from there as long as your bb has its
    's in order. (Or at least that's usually my issue if I have one!)
  • The left-side sidebar will list whatever you have in Manuscript in whatever hierarchy you give them, including nesting folders. I'm using folders to manage bits and bobs of text I have for each of my divisions. I can see using it as a home for edits.
  • Like so mucheverything on World Anvil, the more I learn about the Manuscript tools, the more I love it. Having somewhere to put this entire other universe other than my head is amazing. Using such an amazing reference to write the stories of my world is sublime. Actually doing the work of the writing inside the reference is another step beyond. I'll come back when I'm more familiar have better adjectives for it!

    Ariel Purkeypile | Tenses Universe
    Nesting stories, discoverable epistolaria, quantum whimsy.
    Recovery is my superpower.
    11 Sep, 2020 08:28

    Attempting to delete a manuscript I created as a test results in a 404 not found error.   Also, I cannot save my manuscript backcover summary? I enter the text, go to another chapter, it's gone?

    12 Sep, 2020 10:23

    Hi! How old is that Manuscript? If it was created during the alpha-testing phase, errors are expected. If don't have and never have had beta features enabled (also known as "Alchemist"), let me know and we can work from here.

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    12 Sep, 2020 13:00

    Hi Ondo, yes that could very well be the case. I will start over with a new one, but is there a way to delete this?

    12 Sep, 2020 17:45

    Alpha Manuscripts can't be deleted due to how the system used to work vs how it works now. However, you can file in a bug report requesting the Manuscript to be deleted. Make sure to provide details (the 404 error, that it's an old one, and the manuscript ID).   There's a link in the help page. You'll need a separate account because it's a third-party service (unless you already have a Jira account).   Sorry about that!

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    12 Sep, 2020 21:36

    Hey no problem, thanks for the help ;)

    Grandmaster lartra
    Leeland Artra
    10 Oct, 2020 11:29

    I want to include the published manuscript embedded codes in my world. The link codes work as described. However, I cannot control the size of the book cover. I tried using the CSS code in the WorldAnvil guide (.user-css .bookcover) https://www.worldanvil.com/w/WorldAnvilCodex/a/css but that did not change the manuscript image sizes for the manuscript embeds.

    5 Nov, 2020 21:43

    Is there an easy export function if you want to take a completed manuscript and, say, publish it as an ebook somewhere?

    6 Nov, 2020 22:26

    Yes! You can currently export the Manuscript as basic HTML in a new tab, which you can then "print to pdf". From PDF you can easily convert it to ebook format. I know there are plans to have direct ebook format downloads, but I don't know when this will come and which formats will be included.   Hope this helps!

    Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
    9 Nov, 2020 22:49

    Yes, thanks so much!