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Edward the App: Write your first novel.

Introduction

Edward is a web app designed to help aspiring authors write their first novel.

It all started with a simple question: what if word processors are the worst possible apps for writing novels?

Take Microsoft Word, for example. It has a lot of formatting and layout tools. Bold, italic, multiple columns, 3D leopard-print text, it’s all included.

But you have to know what you want to write with those 3D words, and that’s your real problem anyway. When you can’t figure out what comes next, Word doesn’t have your back. Ever tried to write a novel and gotten stuck on page 10? Several times? Me too.

Over the years I’ve searched for something better. But somehow I always end up right back at Microsoft Word. Just staring at a blank page, wishing the book would write itself. And I’ve wondered if the problem is me: maybe I’m not cut out to be an author.

That kind of thinking doesn’t solve problems, so consider the alternative hypothesis: I’m not the whole problem (and neither are you). Part of it is having the right tools for the job. Which we don’t.

That’s not to say it’s all Microsoft’s fault. Word does some things extremely well, it just doesn’t help you write.

By day I’m a software engineer. If you want to write code, you can pick from 20+ well-known code editors, and competition keeps them all sharp—they have really cool tools for analyzing, rearranging, rewriting and understanding what you’ve written. When you use a tool like Visual Studio, it’s like having a super-smart robot companion at your side, one who finishes your sentences and politely points out your mistakes.

But if you want to write a novel, your choices are Microsoft Word and a pile of neon-colored sticky notes. No robot companions. No rewriting tools. You have to do all the heavy lifting yourself.

All this has led me to wonder why there isn’t any better software for authors. Surely there’s room for improvement.

So I’ve dedicated the last six months to writing an app called Edward. And I believe that he can help people overcome the biggest obstacles between them and their first published work.

What does Edward do?

Edward doesn’t write your book for you. But he does try to simplify the process by:

  • Providing tools for planning and outlining
  • Keeping your notes handy while you write
  • Letting you switch between chapters and paragraphs easily
  • Making it easy to search through what you’ve written
  • Keeping you motivated by tracking word count and other stats
  • Giving you useful charts and graphs to help you understand your own style
  • Putting definitions and synonyms at your fingertips

And he’s getting smarter all the time.

How can I try Edward out?

Visit edwardtheapp.com.

I hope you’ll give Edward a try and let me know what’s missing. My goal is for him to become the world’s most beloved tool for writing books.

What tech is Edward built on?

I’m using the following technologies:

  • Vue.js 2.0
  • D3.js
  • Quill.js
  • Node.js
  • Knex.js
  • PostgreSQL
  • Webpack
  • Ava
  • Cypress

Each of these has been a joy to work with. If you’ve contributed to these projects in any way, thank you.

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