Are you looking for free novel writing software that is mostly fully featured and functional? If you are, Bibisco might be the right novel writing software for you. Bibisco works on Linux, MAC and Windows machines. Unfortunately, there are no Android or Apple versions of the software as of yet, and it does not connect automatically to cloud storage, which makes portability between devices extremely difficult. With that being said, let’s take an in-depth look at how this software works.
1. Opening Screen
Once you open Bibisco, the first screen that appears says Ready, set, go! On this screen, you have the ability to open an existing project, create a new project, create sequel, import a project, change the settings and get some info about Bibisco and contact information for the developer. If you have not started any projects, obviously click on create a new project.
2. Create a New Project
The create a new project screen allows you to name your project and choose your language. It’s important to choose your correct language because once you choose your language and save the new project, you cannot go back and choose another language.
3. This Is Your Novel
Upon opening an existing project or creating a new project, you will be taken to a screen that says This is your novel. This screen can be a bit confusing because you would expect to be taken directly to your chapter or a place where you could create your first chapter. This is just not the case with Bibisco. You’ll see a mostly blank screen and a top menu bar that contains:
- Project – take you to the This is your novel screen
- Architecture – Create your novel architecture and Narrative Strands including the Premise, Fabula and setting. The Narrative Strands are supposed to be your main plot and subplots and any special threads you want to track throughout your novel.
- Characters – Create your characters with as little or as much detail as you want. It’s important to note that there is an “explore your novel feature” in the chapters. If you fill out all the character details, they will be available to you via the explore function.
- Location – List all the locations where your novel takes place
- Objects – Create specific objects to track (not available in free version)
- Chapters – Create your Chapters and Scenes
- Search – A search function (Not available in the free version)
- Timeline – Track the timeline of your novel (This is part of the “tags” function that you’ll fill out within your chapters and scenes in order to track certain metrics) (Not available in the free version)
- Analysis – Allows you to see your chapter lengths and character and location distribution (if you fill out your tags for every scene)
- Export – Export your novel as a PDF, DOCX or Bibisco archive
I would recommend starting with the architecture of your novel and filling out the premise, fabula and setting information. Bibisco offers advice and tips on how to fill out each section. For example, in the Premise section, you are advised to describe your novel in one sentence. I did a paragraph just because that’s what I had written down from my notes when I first got the idea for Anything for an A. Once you’re done writing the premise of your novel, Bibisco should automatically save it for you. However, if the blue save button is dark blue, you’ll need to click it. Bibisco will also warn you anytime you try to leave an area that is unsaved.
The Fabula is a narration of the events sorted by their logical and chronological sequence. To write your Fabula, click on the “get started” button. This will take you to a text box where you can input the appropriate novel information.
The setting is fairly self-explanatory. Simply write a few sentences about where your novel is located.
For the Narrative Strands, you can create as few or as many as you like. Consider this to be all your major and minor plots and anything you want to specifically track throughout your novel.
For the locations, input the specific spots where your story takes place. In my novel, I put things like Carl’s House, Hattrick’s House, Drive-in. This is different than your overall setting because you are striving to track the specific spots where your story takes place. At first, you’ll probably only have a few locations, but as you get deeper into your novel, you’ll want to add the new places that pop up. Again, the more you fill out, the better able you will be to track your novel’s metrics.
6. Chapters and Scenes
There is no limit to how many chapters or scenes you can create within a chapter. When you create a new chapter, you’ll want to give it a name and save that name. Next, you may want to fill out the reason for the chapter and add any notes under the applicable sections. It’s important to note that you cannot create a chapter in the chapter section. You must create a scene in order to enter text into the chapter. This means that every chapter will contain at least one scene.
Once you’ve created your scene, you can add your text. Bibisco will periodically automatically save your text. However, if it fails to automatically save, you have the option of saving it manually by clicking the save button. It’s important to note that the individual scenes do not show up when you export your document. This means you’ll still have to add the scene title or *** at the top of the scene text if you need to see the scene breaks upon exporting the work.
Once you’ve written the text of your scene, click back. You should see that you have a revision number. Mine is currently on revision 2, a tags function and a project explorer. Remember to click on the tags section. If you do not fill out your tags, you will have very few metrics to look at under the analysis sectionm and you will need to fill out your tags for each scene you create.
Formatting Functions for the Text Boxes
- Left Guillemette (<<)
- Right Guillemette (>>)
- Numbered List
- Bulleted List
- Align Left
- Align Right
- Find/Replace – Not available in the free version
- Full screen mode – Not available in the free version
- Settings – change the font style and size and enable and disable spell check and autosave
The project explorer is available in every scene. When you click on the project explorer, it will bring up a drop-down box that allows you to choose certain sections of your novel for fast reference, including the premise, fabula, setting, narrative strands, various characters, the locations and the chapters. This is very handy if you don’t want to leave the scene you are working on to research something in another part of your manuscript.
The analysis section is what all those tags are for. If you fully tag all of your scenes for every chapter, you will be able to see (along with your chapter lengths, which is calculated automatically) character distribution as both a percentage of the total book and per chapter, a breakdown of the characters and the locations where they appear and a breakdown of the location distribution as a percentage of the novel and per chapter where the locations appear.
The export function allows you to export your book to your harddrive or a USB drive or another external drive as either a PDF, DOCX or Bibisco archive.
9. The Red !!!
For every piece that you add to your Bibico novel, you’ll see three red exclamation points. This feature is meant to indicate that you have unfinished business with the scene or chapter. You can leave it alone as it doesn’t affect the text or the exportation of your novel, or you can clear them. To clear them, you will open the specific section, like a scene and click the “okay”. This will get rid of the red !!! and give you the green “ok”. It’s important to clear all the red !!! for each scene and the reason and notes section in order to get the green “ok” for each chapter.
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