Viability for writing novels

Ah Jesse, I’ve been waiting for an update to WR for so long and this bold claim got my hopes up:

Bike is a small and efficient macOS native app. Use it to write a todo list. Use it to write a novel. Bike is a small app ready for big jobs.

The animation was a little trippy at first, but I grew to like it. And I really love the focus in/focus out feature. That would be immensely helpful in drilling down into a scene or chapter. And as an outliner, it’s great. Truly, there is a lot to love here.

However, there isn’t much point in writing a novel in software that doesn’t offer a means of getting said novel to one of my publishers, all of whom still expect everything in DOCX. It’s the indenting that really breaks things for me. If I could define the chapter structure with hashtags like markdown, I could use Pandoc or something similar. I saw another user mention there is a way to convert Taskpaper format to MMD using Ruby, but I fear that is far beyond me, and I’m not certain it would apply for Bike anyway.

It looks like there’s a post 1.0 release plan to include RTF. While copy/paste RTF into a blank Word doc wouldn’t be ideal, and would likely lose the structure in the process, it might be the simplest option?

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Forgive me for jumping in, but this came to me, which might be of interest/inspiration:

Integrate WriteRoom and Bike—this could be a great set of tools for writers.

  • Create the structure of your article/story/novel in Bike.
    • Then export it into WriteRoom, where each outline item is transformed into…
      • a chapter
      • an act
      • a section
      • etc.
  • Then use WriteRoom to flesh out your structure into your first draft, etc.
    • Include export functionality to DOCX/PDF/RTF/Final Draft/Etc.

I got excited just thinking about this. I know, I’m weird. :slight_smile:

I’m glad you are thinking about this :slight_smile:

In truth when I said “write a novel” I was really thinking about the underlying flexibility and performance of the editor. I don’t want it to get slow when the content gets big… even to novel+ size. Bike isn’t likely to have all the tooling to generate DOCX manuscripts anytime soon.

With that said post 1.0 once I get to scripting support I’m pretty sure it will be possible to script a solution. The script API will be similar concept to TaskPaper, but the model is richer so easier to have metadata for things like this is heading, bold, etc. Another maybe possible option is just a conversion script from a .bike document into a DOCX document. I don’t really know what DOCX looks like, but I imagine it wouldn’t be to hard to turn first level headings into chapter titles and generate content for the rest. Also if you manually add some metadata tags to the .bike HTML LI’s to better support export they should be persevered on load/save through .bike.

Anyway, maybe a bit early at the moment, but I’m pretty sure a working solution will be possible once scripting is added. And a nicer solution once themes and rich text are also added.

The rich text support that I have planned is first just going to be encoding bold/italic spans into the HTML as strong and emphasis tags. Also exporting as RTF makes sense and if you keep on me I’ll do it, but that’s not likely to be in first release. Anyway I just mean I think of rich text more as the feature of making bold and italic as opposed to RTF format.

This is very much a long term goal… but again I don’t want to make promises. Current focus is Bike 1.0. Then fleshing it out with scripts, themes, rich text.

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+1 on this! I’ve been dreaming of a similar workflow for roughly a decade. I’ve actually cobbled together something like it in Obsidian, but it’s nowhere near as elegant as what Jesse would create, I’m sure.

Jesse, I’m always willing to kick in the tires on any novel-adjacent features you want to implement. I find your software such a pleasure to use, and I still hold out hope some day for a WR 4 (no pressure!)

@complexpoint Just posted a Bike to Markdown exporter, and then I guess that can be filtered through pandoc to generate docx:

Not sure this is a cycle that you would want to use for daily work, but it would be interesting to hear how viable the docx end result is for your work. What other formatting options you wold need?

For reference, here is the docx file produced by:

pandoc -t docx -o sample.docx (188.9 KB)

(Where is produced by the script in the thread to which @jesse refers)


( -> markdown -> docx) could, of course, be bundled as a single (Bike -> docx) script.

Something that would be very useful, if it proved feasible, when using to author Markdown and .docx, would be preview updates whenever the Bike file is saved.

(Brett Terpstra, collaborating with authors of things like iThoughts, seems to have managed immediate Marked 2 updates – whenever the other application’s model is updated – using their TextBundle approach – I’m not sure if that’s relevant here)

(i.e. I suppose, something like a Save variant which both saves the structured .bike outline file, and also updates a flat markdown translation of it. I might experiment with a script along those lines)

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