Writer Workflow Guide in World Anvil Codex | World Anvil

Writer Workflow Guide

Restructuring the Codex

We are currently moving articles around and changing the general structure of the Codex. Please come back later if you get lost!
  This guide is our recommended workflow for writers using World Anvil. You don't have to follow these steps, but they will be very useful if you are struggling to find your way with our toolset.   Some parts of this workflow use features that are only available to the Guild, including Manuscripts, our novel writing software, which is available to Masters of the Guild and above. Consider supporting World Anvil if you are interested in these (and many other) features.  

Prepare your world


1. Create an account

The first step to use World Anvil is to create a free account (although you will have to subscribe to use some of our features). Simply click the create account button that you will find in the top right corner of any World Anvil page, including this one.   You will be prompted to type in your email and to choose a username and a password. After creating the account, you will be walked through an on-boarding process where you will be able to choose different account settings. The default settings will already have all the features you need enabled.  

2. Creating your world

Before we create our first story, we need a world for the story to take place in. During the on-boarding process you will be asked to choose between creating a world or a character. Pick the world option and fill in the name of the world and the basic details:  

  You will be able to change these details later, so don't be afraid of mistakes or typos. After you click the Save and Proceed button, you will be redirected to the world Dashboard, which looks like this:  

world dashboard.png

  Most of this page is dedicated to the world search and the create menu. In World Anvil, you organize articles in categories, but there are different types of articles. These different types are called templates, and each one has different features for each kind of story element. For example, the character template has family trees, while the organization template has diplomacy webs. To create your first story element, simply click on the template for the element you want to write about.   Note that you don't need to fill in every field in the template —they are just there for inspiration. If they are too much for you, just write everything in the main text field at the top. You can read more about editing articles in the Guide to article editing.   You might also be interested in other features, such as the interactive maps, organization charts, and family trees.  

3. Plotting and pantsing

Before writing the story itself, it's a good idea to plan for it, both as a plotter and as a pantser.   If you are a plotter, find the Plot template in the world dashboard. This template has various optional fields that will help you plan your story. If you are writing a long-form story, you might want to create several plot articles, one for each part. You can then put them all inside the general story plot using the parent plot box in the template (click the show template specific prompts button, then the Generic tab).   On the other hand, pantsers might want to set up all of their planned characters first. Just use the character template to create them all and the Relationships tab in the character editing page to create parent-child relations —this will let you generate a dynamic family tree. If you are interested in that, take a look at the Guide to Family Trees.  

Let's get writing!


1. Create your manuscript

  With your world ready, it's time to start writing your story. Go to the Manuscripts page from the left sidebar, then click the Create a new manuscript button. This is how the new Manuscript will look after creation:  

  Use the left column to organize your story into chapters and scenes. You can only write in scenes, so even if you want to write all of your scenes in a single page, you need at least one scene per chapter.   To change a scene location, simply use the left panel to drag and drop it in its new chapter. You can also reorder whole chapters. If a scene or chapter is no longer relevant, you can drop it in the Bin folder (which won't permanently delete it —it's more similar to an archive).  

2. Organizing your Manuscript

There are several tools to help with organization and structure. While you are editing a scene, use the right panel to set tags and labels. The label will color the scene in the left panel, while tags will be useful when you click on a chapter to review its structure:  

  You can also set the POV character and related world content (characters, locations, etc.), as well as the scene type and importance. These details, including the tags and labels, are only visible to you —anyone viewing the Manuscript when you publish it will not be able to see them. By default, labels have the name of its color, but you can customize them in the manuscript's configuration ("Labels" tab).   Finally, you can also upload a book cover and add the title and backcover summary if you already have it. To do that, click the name of the manuscript in the left sidebar to fill these details. The book cover's dimensions are 500x700px (A5, international standard for fiction paperback).  

3. Integration with your world

Manuscripts is tightly integrated with your World Anvil world. While writing, you can use the Manuscripts' search bar at the top to look up any article on your world. Click the article you want to open to display it in the same page. This is great to quickly reference and update your plot outline or a relevant character without having to open a new tab. And, if you need to, click the quick edit button to edit the article without leaving your story:  


4. Editing

Manuscripts has a variety of features that will help you in the editing process of your story. Start by labeling each scene with a color that represents something important to your editing process. For example, red could mean "needs heavy editing", while green could be "editing completed". These colors will be displayed in the left sidebar, as well as in the scene overview. To access this overview, click on a chapter:  

review scenes.png

  You can also use Manuscripts to manage your beta readers. To do this, make sure the Manuscript is set to private in the access tab of the Manuscript settings (remember that you access the settings page by clicking the name of the Nanuscript in the left sidebar). Then, publish each chapter using the button in each chapter's right sidebar.   Even if your Manuscript is published, no one will be able to read it if it's set to private. However, you can use subscriber groups for your beta readers so that you can add them as an exception. More information on subscribers in the Guide to Subscribers.  

5. Publish

After you finish your manuscript, you can either publish it on World Anvil or export it.  

5.1. Exporting the Manuscript

You can publish the Manuscript digitally on World Anvil itself or, alternatively, export it as an HTML file if you want to publish it in another format. To export it, click the name of the Manuscript in the left sidebar. Then, find the tab with the Export icon in the right sidebar. Clicking the Export in HTML button will open the full Manuscript in a new tab, in a basic HTML formatting. You can then copy-paste it in a document or print (both physically or as a PDF).   Export options in other common e-book formats are coming soon.  

5.2 Publishing on World Anvil

If you want to publish the Manuscript on World Anvil, go to the first chapter and go to the the Settings tab in the right sidebar. Make sure the Manuscript and the chapter are set to public, and then click the green button Publish Chapter & Manuscript. All scenes and images inside this chapter will be published and all of your followers will get a notification. This won't publish any other chapters, but it's an irreversible action, so make sure you have finished writing it!   You can then publish the rest of chapters, one by one, using the same method. If you want to offer only some chapters as a preview and keep the rest private for your supporters, publish all chapters but make sure that the exclusive ones are set to Private. Then, use subscriber groups to let your readers in the exclusive chapters (more information in the Guide to Subscribers).   After being published, your Manuscript will be listed in the Community page. Make sure you have selected the genre(s) and language of your story to make it easier to find. From the Manuscript's page, your readers will be able to interact with you by following your work, liking or bookmarking chapters, and leaving comments. You will get notifications every time someone leaves you a like or a comment. If you want to see how a published Manuscript looks, go the community page and browse some of them!  

That's it!

You have created your world, planned your plot or characters, and written and edited your story. By now, you should have a published or exported Manuscript or, at least, know how you can do it. For more detailed information about Manuscripts, check out the Guide to Manuscripts.   If you have any questions, leave a comment in this page or join our Discord server and ask in the #help channel.


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Jul 25, 2020 11:33

Hello :) I have one question that I'm really curious about. Do fantasy writers need World Anvil's permission to publish a novel that includes a map made with the website's map maker?

Jul 26, 2020 05:42 by Dimitris Havlidis

Hello Markus, World Anvil is not a map making software. If you mean or interactive map editor, no you need no permission to do so.

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Aug 16, 2020 01:32

Can I use the book widget to display a link to an article within another article? I'd like to display the documents written by a particular character as books in their character article.

Aug 16, 2020 19:36 by Ademal

The book link specifically goes to an category. However, you can use the standard article link, and swap out the contents of the [alias] part with the bbcode for the book cover image. This makes it so the image, when clicked, links to the article.

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Sep 9, 2020 20:06 by Ariel Purkeypile

Yay, y'all! This help article is amazing!

Nov 24, 2020 17:20 by Peter J. Blake

I note you can create folders and put chapters inside them. When writing my manuscript I created a folder for Part One and put all the chapters for part one inside that. Same for Part Two. I then published Part One and Part Two (the folders) which appeared for the manuscript when viewed but had no content inside them. I expected this to publish all the chapters inside Part One and Part Two and have them "nested" as it were.   Is this not possible? Blakey

Nov 24, 2020 18:22

Hi! This is a bug, but I don't know if the issue is that it lets you nest folders or that they are displayed with no content. Could report this behavior as a bug using the "Report a bug" button in the help page? Note that you'll need to create a separate account for the bug-tracking system, because it's a third-party service.   As a workaround, you could note the part number in front of the chapter name (e.g. "II. Chapter 1: name"). Or even publish them in different Manuscripts, but that depends on how long they are and your own organization. Sorry about that, I hope it's not a big issue!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Dec 3, 2020 00:21

Hey guys,   Is anyone else having an issue creating new scenes and chapters? I have no option on my screen to do so, as the tutorial video and images demonstrate.   Thanks,

Dec 3, 2020 11:29

To create new scenes and chapters use the "+" button at the top of the screen (it's green if you use the default light theme). Aren't you seeing this button?

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Dec 6, 2020 20:26

Hi Ondo,   I appreciate your response. The website seemed to be glitching out for me on one of my laptops, it would not properly display the option '+' so I switched to my computer and that seemed to resolve the issue. I do notice that this tends to happen every so often and I will need to relog my account to fix this issue.   Thanks,

Dec 6, 2020 21:01

That's weird. If it happens again, can you check if you have any extensions that could affect the page layout? In any case, I'm glad you could figure it out!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Dec 6, 2020 15:27

Hi :) I want to start a new project with a different world, but cant seem to get out the previously built world. suggestions?

Dec 6, 2020 21:03

Hi! If you have already created the world, use the world switch under the World Anvil logo on the left sidebar (click the world name to reveal a drop-down).   If you don't have the world yet, you can create it from the drop-down (there's a "+ New World" option) or, alternatively, click the World Anvil logo to get to the global dashboard, then select "Your Worlds", and you'll see a "Create a new World" button in the right side of the page.   Hope this helps!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Apr 23, 2021 08:08

Does the manuscript tool have any systems for collaborative writing, such as highlighting a sentence and attaching a comment, like in google docs?

Apr 23, 2021 09:57

Collaborative writing is not supported at the moment, unfortunately!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Jul 9, 2021 09:09

Estoy intentando escribir la primera entrada histórica para mi linea de tiempo y no encuentro como guardarla para poder cerrar la página. supuse que se guardaría con el botón de ''crear entrada histórica'' pero no hace nada, lo pulso y nada sucede, y si salgo no aparece ninguna entrada en mi linea temporal.

Jul 9, 2021 10:47

¡Hola! ¿Has especificado el título, la fecha del acontecimiento y la línea del tiempo asociada antes de guardar la entrada histórica? Si es que sí, inténtalo en otro navegador o en modo privado/incognito para ver si es algun problema local tuyo. ¡Ya me dirás cómo te va!   Por cierto, no relacionado con la pregunta directamente, pero en el servidor de Discord tenemos un canal para hispanohablantes! Puedes unirte en este enlace. Busca el canal "#info-community-intl" y haz clic en la banderita de España.

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Jul 9, 2021 11:02

tenias razón, en el modo incognito sí deja guardar los cambios, estoy fuera de casa, ¿Cuándo regrese podré editar mis artículos con normalidad o debo usar el incognito de por vida? me uniré al discord, gracias!

Jul 9, 2021 11:19

Si funciona con incógnito significa que hay algo en tu navegador que no te deja usar la web con normalidad. Prueba de borrar las "cookies" de la página (tendrás que volver a entrar a tu sesión). Si aún no funciona, ve desactivando las extensiones que tengas una a una hasta que funcione para ver cuál está interfiriendo.

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Sep 28, 2021 15:23

Sorry, I'm completely new to this - is it possible to keep everything completely private? Including the whole world details/characters etc? Apologies if it's totally obvious, I just can't see any privacy settings to change.

Sep 28, 2021 17:46

For Guild members (like you), absolutely! To make the world private, simply go to the world configuration -> privacy state (first/default tab) and pick "private". You can also fine-tune private settings per article. Manuscripts are private by default, but you can also publish them in private (for example, for beta readers). Just make sure that the privacy status in the "Access" tab is set to private before publishing!   Let me know if you need more help and I'll be happy to answer any questions!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Sep 28, 2021 18:34

Thanks so much :-)

Nov 6, 2021 05:08 by Martin Rake

Hello - I'm new and really liking the interactivity of the process - A couple of questions. Do my readers have to be registered in World Anvil? Am I able to link my manuscript to my World Home Page directly? I don't seem to see an option. How are you expecting to provide access to private readers?

Nov 6, 2021 10:24

Hi! Readers don't need to be registered if the Manuscript is published and public. If it's private, you'll need to use subscriber groups (which require free accounts for the readers). You can link a manuscript from any page on your world by copying its BBCode embed block. To do this, find the export tab (with this icon: ) in the right sidebar when you open your manuscript. You'll see an embed code that looks like [manuscript:random-numbers-here] and you can paste it anywhere on World Anvil to create a link to the manuscript.   Hope this helps, and feel free to ask any other questions!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Dec 28, 2021 23:57 by Mar LaFer

Hi~ I'm new to this and basically, I'm here to develop better the ideas in my mind for the stories I want to write. I haven't subscribed yet to any Guild Membership because I'm not sure which one to choose, or not choose one of those but pick the Epic Heroes. Help, I'm kinda lost here.

Dec 30, 2021 17:51

Hi! Welcome to World Anvil :)   Epic Hero was designed specifically for RPG players, so don't get this one if you're a writer! Manuscripts (our writing software) is a Master feature, so you'll need this (or Grandmaster) if you want to use it. If you just want to dip your toes into the features a Guild membership unlocks but you don't think you'll use Manuscripts in the short term, get the lowest tier, Journeyman. You can always upgrade later on—you'll only be charged for the difference if you do so before your subscription ends. There's a full breakdown of features by Guild membership in the pricing page.   Hope this helps, and let me know if you need more help!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Jan 5, 2022 03:05 by Mar LaFer

Thank you so much! This helps a lot. I'll take then the Journeyman membership and follow your advice.   Thanks again~

Mar 24, 2022 17:37

can you import from scrivener into world anvil (rather than cut and pasting )

Mar 25, 2022 10:01

Hi! Unfortunately, that's not currently a feature World Anvil supports.

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Mar 27, 2022 09:16

thanks :-( lucky not too much to cut and paste then

Jun 21, 2022 21:11 by Lulu Miller

Hi! I have a question... How can I share my world with a person?

Jun 22, 2022 10:08

Hi! Just sharing the link should be enough, but make sure you're sharing the presentation link and not the one you use for editing! Just click the "View World" button in the left sidebar (or the "View" button on the right for specific articles) and share that link. Let me know if you have other questions!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Jun 30, 2022 19:03 by Lulu Miller

OK, thanks so much!!!

Jul 7, 2022 00:11

Hello,   I am new to WorldAnvil. Love the program but a little learning curve to it. How can I link my map marker to a certain manuscript page?

Jul 7, 2022 08:53

Hello, welcome to World Anvil! You can't link directly to a manuscript, but you can embed it to the sidebar that will open when clicking a marker. If you go to the manuscript, the File export tab includes an "embed into world" code. Copy it and paste it into the Description field of the marker. Let me know if this works for you or if you have any other questions!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Jul 10, 2022 15:52

Hello, Thank You, this helped! :-)

Sep 23, 2022 00:54

Hello! I'm new here. So I'm writing a fantasy world and was wondering if I could create a map of my world on this website?

Sep 23, 2022 08:20

Hi! World Anvil is not a mapmaking software, but if you've created a map elsewhere, you can make it interactive here (for example, add zooming and panning functionality, add pins, link it to your worldbuilding, etc.). Let me know if you have more questions!

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Jan 31, 2023 03:47 by Esther Mitchell

I am a longtime published author who's been looking for something that allows integrative writing with the ability to instantly search my series bible information (I'm a serious plotter!), and so far, your platform is the best one I've encountered. I only have a free membership at the moment, as I wanted to just poke around and see how things work and if it would work for me (I've been disappointed in the past, so I'm glad you offer a free way to have a look at most of the features). Okay... On to my question. I write mostly paranormal fiction set in the "real" world (of sorts). As such, I typically utilize cut-and-pastes of Google maps to build my location maps. I'm very interested in your interactive map feature, but I need to know if there's any kind of copyright issue I need to be aware of if I use Google maps I've cut and pasted to form the base of my interactive maps. Will this be a problem, at all?

Jan 31, 2023 09:07

Hi! Thanks for your kind words :)   If your World Anvil content is private, you can use copyrighted content because it's considered private use. If it's public (including behind a paywall/Patreon access), then that's up to Google Map's copyright policy. You can read more about World Anvil and copyright in the copyright policy.

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Mar 19, 2023 04:54 by Esther Mitchell

Thanks, Ondo. I've since gotten my Guildmaster status and begun transferring my worldbuilding en masse (never know how much worldbuilding you do until you're transferring to a new platform! lol). The information for the maps is private to me and my alpha readers, as it contains spoiler information, so that shouldn't be a problem, then. I've long used Google Maps for my private map building. I just wasn't sure if WorldAnvil had specific "no-no"s against doing such a thing.   Is there a build coming that might add months as a scale to the timelines? My books tend to take place over a range of months, and at current, I end up with a LOT of overlap because months aren't a feature. Makes the whole timeline feature uber confusing.   Thanks!

Mar 20, 2023 09:02

Welcome to the Guild! Happy to have you here :D   An update to the timelines is definitely planned, possibly at some point this year. The release hasn't been scheduled yet (it will be when it's ready) and I can't tell you what it will include yet, but it will definitely improve the timeline experience, both in editing and reading it.

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Mar 20, 2023 23:46 by Esther Mitchell

Awesome! Thanks! :)

Mar 19, 2023 13:40

I just started using your site as a Master subscriber. I’m having issues with editing a scene after creation. Subsequent edits don’t save properly.   Am I missing the save button, or am I too impatient and leave the page before the system automatically saves?   Thanks.

Mar 20, 2023 09:08

Hi! Welcome to the Guild :)   I'm assuming you're talking about Manuscripts. When the text saved, a "Saved" notification appears at the top bar, next to the search field. It's working properly for me, so it could be a problem on your side. Check if you have any browser extensions/addons that could be affecting this, try a different browser, and check your internet connection. If everything is working properly and you're sure it's not an issue on your side, report this as a bug in the bug tracker

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
Mar 20, 2023 14:55

Hi, Sage. Thanks for the reply.   Yes, sorry, the issue is in Manuscripts. My initial browser was Firefox, and I tried Chrome without much luck there, either. I'll try my copy of Safari before submitting a possible issue in the bug tracker and submitting a feature request.

Mar 20, 2023 21:33

Chatted with someone today and they helped me figure out what I was doing wrong. I was modifying paragraph and block quote formats, but I needed to just type a few keystrokes to get the auto-save to kick in. You also have to just type a few characters in the main editor if you use the source code editor to get it to save. You can delete those extra characters pretty quickly.

Feb 14, 2024 07:51

I'm transferring over a series of stories I've written that are set across several worlds in a linked universe. I'm not sure whether to set up several different World Anvil "worlds" or try and put all the information in one. My preference would be to set up separate worlds for each, but would I be able to link one manuscript to several different worlds?

Feb 15, 2024 06:58

Hi! A "world" on World Anvil is not a world in the literal sense, it's a setting. For example, if all of your stories happened inside a building, the "world" would be that building. If all your stories happen in multiple planets, the "world" is the entire universe (or multiverse, depending on how it works). You can use the Geographical Location article template to write about planets, plenty of Anvilites, myself included, do this! You can check Ethnis, one of the largest public worlds, for an example of a world that spans an entire universe.

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.