Best WordPress setup to publish a NaNo novel on the web?
October 26, 2006 5:29 PM   Subscribe

So, with NaNoWriMo coming next week, I've been looking up past questions on music to write to, novel writing and organizing applications, and ways to write anywhere. But... what would be the best way to publish your NaNo novel on the web as you go? I'm thinking WordPress.

Yes, I know, there are 'first rights' and other concerns if you're hoping to do something with your NaNo novel after November, but most of my writer friends do this for fun, and we like to read along as stories come together (or fall apart).

In the past, I set up Movable Type blogs, and tweaked the template so that entries were posted to the main index in chronological order (rather than reverse chronological). Of course, that was just a kludge, and now everyone's in love with WordPress. It's adaptable, and there are a wide variety of templates are out there... so I'm thinking that's the way to go this year.

Is anyone familiar with any "novel-ly" WordPress templates or widgets? Some easy theme to turn a basic blog into a way to elegantly present serialized fiction? On look and feel, something using fonts that look very... book-like (lots of white space, larger than average serif type, etc.)? On function, something less chronology or date based, and thinking more in terms of chapters.

Or is there a better way? If you wanted to post your NaNo novel online as you churned out your daily quota, how would you do it?
posted by pzarquon to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would set up a WordPress blog and, well, tweak it to list entries in chronological order. Doing should be simple enough—just add a simple "query_posts" call to your main page template.

This shows how to sort alphabetically—a little tweaking should give you what you want (adjusting the argument to the orderby variable).
posted by cortex at 6:24 PM on October 26, 2006

As for book-like fonts, I've always liked Georgia for that print-like feel. It's widely installed and easier on the eyes, especially on a computer screen, than Times.

Have you check the actual nanowrimo forums? I'd be shocked if a good discussion of this doesn't exist, and more shocked still if, should that not turn out to be the case, a good one couldn't be started by you.
posted by cortex at 6:27 PM on October 26, 2006

Good luck in November P.Z. - I too will be churning through the word count beside you :)

I can't offer you much advice on what blog CMS to use, However I am assuming that you are like most other Nanos and are competing for the sheer challenge, as opposed to having a view to publication.

If you are considering taking the publication route, bear in mind that publishers will most probably reject a manuscript that has been published elsewhere (including online).

In that case, maybe you could implement some sort of user account system on your blog (I know Drupal can do this) so that only members wil be able to read, as opposed to the wider public. That way you can share your work with your writer friends.. and still be protected if your manuscript turns out to be the next 'Farewell to Arms'

Good luck!
posted by TheOtherGuy at 8:23 PM on October 26, 2006

Publishers are giving less of a crap about whether your work appears online. Miss Snark recently weighed in.

I'm considering using Writely or whatever Google is calling it now for mine. I'm not necessarily interested in sharing my unpolished writing with the world, but I like to be able to re-read in a less bloggy and more paper-like format.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:29 AM on October 27, 2006

Second writely...
If anyone still needs a gmail account...
posted by Arthur Dent at 7:46 AM on October 27, 2006

Best answer: I did this for my husband last year but I can't remember how I actually did what I did. However, somehow I displayed only one entry at a time in chronological order with Wordpress. At the bottom of each entry is a "next page" "previous page" link for easy browsing. I'm sure this wasn't hard, if I managed to do it. That isn't very helpful, other than to say it can be done simply.

The part I do remember is starting with the Sleek theme to get sort of a book-like feel about it, but changing the fonts to Georgia.
posted by jheiz at 7:59 AM on October 27, 2006

Last year I wrote my entire novel in Writely (now Google Docs) there's a handy blogger integration tool that allowed me to post chapters as I finished them right from Writely. From there I had a group of people who read my new entires as I posted them and emailed me encouragement and suggestions on the plot. The integration of Writely and Blogger was perfect for me; I highly recommend it.
posted by DragonBoy at 8:37 AM on October 27, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas so far... I did browse the NaNo forums, but while lots of the participants are bloggers, not all are publishing as they go... and if they are, they're just going with whatever stock setup their service offers. I want to do a bit more than just copy-paste into LiveJournal, you know?

Writely/Google Docs is a nice interface for composing, but not publishing. I just spent the last hour testing its "Publish" functionality... the straight-up Google Docs publishing works, but isn't pretty (and the weird way it manages Bookmarks and Links is a pain), and the pass through to Blogger isn't working for me -- it picks its own random blog out of the ones I have in my Blogger account, posts only as drafts, and gives an error every time.

Thanks for the encouragement, TheOtherGuy, but as I noted "first rights" aren't a concern (and indeed, as Lyn notes, prior web publication isn't the deal breaker it once was). Drupal is neat but definitely overkill for what I'm thinking here.

Jheiz, cortex, my thinking is similar. WordPress, tweaked display order, book-ly fonts like Georgia and a book-ly theme in WordPress or that decent Sleek theme at Blogger.

And actually, alpha ordering would work in either case... if I titled each blog entry beginning with "Chapter XX." It would make reordering later easier, too, rather than getting stuck with post ID/order. I appreciate the link on how to alphabetize in WordPress, and it is possible to sort Blogger entries alphabetically too.

Though Sleek is nice, I like having my content on my site more. So I've got as far as an alphabetized WordPress blog, but I'm still looking for a sexy book writer-ish theme...
posted by pzarquon at 11:13 AM on October 27, 2006

I might be misunderstanding, but Sleek isn't on blogger. I linked to the creator's main site rather than the theme page, but you can download the files here and keep it on your site. Not that it's all that sexy, but we found it to be readable and somewhat novel-like.
posted by jheiz at 6:04 PM on October 27, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, even better, jheiz. I think that's the way to go. Mahalo!
posted by pzarquon at 9:59 PM on October 27, 2006

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