Jer’s Novel Writer 1.1.10 Released!

It’s a big milestone for me, getting back on track maintaining Jer’s Novel Writer. For those of you who are not familiar with it, JersNW is a word processor with features to help my scattered thoughts fall into some sort of coherent form. It’s based on three principles:

  1. When I get an idea, I want to be able to jot it down without losing my train of thought.
  2. I don’t want to have to remember stuff, and when I need to find something I wrote before I can look it up without getting caught up in the part of the story where it happened.
  3. When I’m stuck on a line or know it could be better, or need to check a fact, or need to track continuity, I can flag it and know I’ll be able to get back to it later.

There are features to help with the mechanics of writing as well (drag-and-drop chapters, flexible database, and so forth), but mainly I just want to keep my momentum when the creative juices are flowing and know that when nitty-gritty time comes I’ll find the places that need attention. Man that’s liberating.

If you’re interested, you can learn more at Jer’s Software Hut. Enjoy!

Oh yeah, it’s Mac-only.


16 thoughts on “Jer’s Novel Writer 1.1.10 Released!

  1. Hi Jer. I apologize for posting here regarding your Novel Writer but couldn’t find anywhere else to do so at the Hut. Is the Novel Writer a software that is still being updated?

    I have found it to be an essential tool for my writing and love working with it. I think it is just minimalistic enough to be clean, straightforward, and user-friendly while still giving the user a number of incredibly helpful features in a way that other writing software doesn’t. The margin notes alone are of inestimable value for my writing.

    I hope you have not set this project aside permanently, as it is already such a wonderful program.

    • Right now the software is not being updated. There are a couple of reasons for that: first is that I have a square day job now and my free time is better spent writing that coding. Second is that my employer has a sorta-competing product, so there is a conflict of interest issue (though I think I could get the proper paperwork processed should I need to).

      I still use Jer’s Novel Writer regularly, and it still mostly works. There are a couple of things I’d like to fix, but that leads to the other blocker: The tools have changed quite a lot since those days (Jer’s Novel Writer still runs on Tiger) and when I went to compile the code for newer platforms I discovered a lot of work ahead.

      If Jer’s Novel Writer explodes completely with a new macOS release, I’ll have to fix it, if for no other reason than I need to be able to use it myself.

  2. I see. Well, I greatly hope we will one day get to see the things you would like to change. The more I use your program, the more I like it. It isn’t cluttered like a lot of other writing programs. But I’m sure you’ve heard all that before. I have a feeling you’ve been asked this before as well but…is it likely that there could possibly be a Windows version in the future? One day? When you have lots of free time? ;)

    Thank you again for the work that you’ve done. It’s a wonderful product that I’m hoping to use for NaNoWriMo in the fall.

  3. Jer,

    Quick question: is there any sort of workaround that will enable a person to export his margin notes out of Jer’s Novel Writer? I want to be sure I create a few backups of my notes and haven’t been able to get them out. Wanted to see if there is any other option before manually copying/pasting all of my notes one at a time.

    Thanks again for this product!


      • It worked! Thanks a ton for that suggestion. I’ve been feeling nervous about having my margin notes stored where I can’t back them up. Got some NaNoWriMo work in there and wanted to be sure I didn’t lose it.

  4. It’s 2018. No updates to JNW. I’ve tried them all, Jerry, the other apps. I keep drifting back to JNW. On a good day it won’t crash under El Capitan. On a bad day I curse Tim Cook, all things Apple and lament Steve Jobs absence – my Macs ran much better while he was still under the helm at Apple. Company has not been the same since his departure IMHO, cash richer for sure, unstable software? absolutely. As I write this I’m finishing the fifth day of recovering, re-installing and discovering to my utmost dismay that no matter what I do, the Finder under any version of El Capitan is always, ALWAYS going to crash on startup, be it in safe mode or otherwise. Meanwhile Apple’s purses get fatter by the day. Mine isn’t that fat and there’s not enough in it to cover a second-hand or referred MacBook Pro, let alone to buy a new one.

    But I digress.

    While backing up I came across JNW. Always a delight. Always a pleasure. I’m not a lover of the out-of-date GUI – that drawer needs replacing BUT I love what it contains.

    It’s 2018 and we want a JNW update. Yes, you work for the fat wallet company. Yes, they’ve got your short and curlies tied up by the, um, short and curlies with lawyers ready to bite your jugular the mere moment you start tinkering with the JNW code. So, outsource it to an up and coming developer. Oversee the project through a third party. Do what it takes, damn it, to turn the project/export/preferences nightmare interface into a no-brainer ePublishing wonder. Have you seen what the guys at Ulysses App have done to tackle this problem? Yeah, it’s a wonderful app. No, it isn’t, nor will it ever match the magic sublime JNW experience.

    Can you hear my fingers tapping, Jerry? Nothing to do with you, mate – I’m a hairs breath from smashing this fucking MacBook Pro 2009 into a myriad pieces. But not until I’ve backed up my JNW files. Then I’ll let rip.

    I’d write more. Truly, I’d love to. I have many novels bouncing around ready for the typing in JNW. However, excuse me, I have a laptop to restore to some kind of semblance of usability first.

    I’ll leave you with a most horrible but sensible question.

    Have you ever thought of making a Windows version of JNW? I’d buy a Thinkpad Carbon X just for JNW for Windows, I kid you not.

    • Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got a hard personal deadline for getting JersNW working on High Sierra (and therefore working better on El Cap).

      UI Redesign is not in the cards, through you are right it is sorely needed. Windows is Right Out. If I’m going to build JersNW from scratch again, I’ll do it in Swift. Which would be great fun.

      If I thought I could excite the coding community to Fix the Shit I would open-source JersNW, but successful open-source projects have strong leadership. They need their Steve. They need someone to say “no” to all those “great ideas” that come down the pike, maintaining the focus of the software, its elegance and simplicity. Keeping the sublimity. There are other little things as well; editing a multi-megabyte file on a low-end computer is less annoying in JersNW than ANY other word processor.

      I have plans, too. The structure of the documents would make it possible to tag sections so you could say, “show me the sections with Alice in them in the order she experiences them.”

      However, I am not in a position to provide that leadership, for many reasons.

      Now my inability to maintain the software is starting to affect my own ability to write, and that means measures must be taken. I wonder if there’s a Craig’s list for software shepherds.

  5. Cheers for responding, Jerry, much appreciated. re your personal deadline, I, um, won’t tell anyone.

    Re getting my MacBook July 2009 up and running. I did it. I booted using Command S, did the fsck -fy thing over and over. Then did it some more. Continued doing it. Bit the bullet and rebooted. Machine is working under El Cap, Finder and all.

    Ta for the mini update re your plans for JNW. You’ve got a community of writers salivating at the bitt.

    • You could be champing at the bit, or frothing at the mouth, or as you say, just plain salivating. It’s all good.

      I now have a build of JersNW running on my laptop. In the intervening years I’ve completely lost the tools I used to package it up and distribute it, and I legally couldn’t distribute it if I wanted to. And the built-in “new version detector” isn’t secure enough to meet Apple standards anyway.

      But I’m pretty sure no one will complain if I slide a copy of the software to my old pal Jez.

      I never really tracked user info, except what was embedded in the software keys I made. Those keys formed what little I had of a user database. However the tool I made to create and read the keys won’t build on newer systems (it uses an out-of-date crypto library), so I can’t access any information about my former customers. I was serious about protecting that data from hackers, even before it was the trendy thing to do.

      What with the new regulations, the simplest avenue for me was to just delete everything. It would have taken a major effort just to know who to send notifications to.

      Should Jer’s Software Hut once more venture out into the world of commerce, it will have to start from scratch.

      Which means, Jez, even if I once knew where to send you stuff, I don’t anymore.

      Also, I really like the picture on your site with Rephael’s little fingers poking out.

      • WOW!

        1000 apologies – I missed your above response, Jerry, I’m so sorry. Three years since you wrote it. O M F G [slaps forehead]

        Cheers for your feedback about the pic of Rephael, it’s one of my favourite shots. Thanks for noticing the chap’s tiny fingers, I just waited until there were more than two fingers visible and then took the shot.

        Back to JNW. Hardware has changed since an earlier rant of mine. I’m now the proud owner of a late 2011 MacBook Pro and a first generation Mac Pro. I run JNW on El Capitan on my laptop – fantastic, the only writing app for this loyal customer – however, i can’t run JNW on the Mac Pro because that’s running High Sierra at the speed of sound. I only took ownership of the Mac Pro a few days ago – today is the first day I’ve had to start configuring the powerful beast – and yesterday I drafted an email to you in an effort to persuade you to make JNW (as is, no changes to the GUI) work and run nicely under High Sierra. If I’d read your response earlier, some three years ago [slaps forehead again] I’d have sent you my email details, so here they are:

        [email protected]

        ..and just for fun, here’s a copy of the email I drafted to you yesterday:

        Hi Jerry,

        I’m wondering what would it take for you to upgrade JNW to run on a 64-bit macOS?

        I’m running JNW on my laptop – great – under El Capitan.

        My latest acquisition, a first gen Mac Pro, runs on High Sierra. I have no plans to downgrade to an older version, so I can’t use JNW on it :-(

        Thought I’d drop you a line to remind you that you have a loyal user who loves your software. As I stated in an earlier correspondence, yours is the only writing app that truly gives me pleasure every time I’m in it’s universe. don’t need a muse or to be “in the mood” I just need to run JNW and write my stuff. The big boys come nowhere close (Ulysses, Scrivener, Pages, and Word), thankfully, they just don’t get it. You did, all those years ago, and you probably still do.

        HERE’S AN IDEA
        If you ever decide to take a sabbatical from Tim’s employ, I’d like to see JNW work together with – or somehow tie in with Vellum over at now that would be a wicked partnership.

        Until then, how about creating a version of JNW that plays nice on High Sierra?



        Jeremy Lerman (Jez)
        Email: [email protected]

  6. Jerry, I have no idea if you’re still reading feedback and comments, just want you to know I’m still infatuated with Jer’s Novel Writer.

    The “adding a character and description of said character” feature is unique, useful and satisfying.

    You once wrote “I have plans, too. The structure of the documents would make it possible to tag sections so you could say, “show me the sections with Alice in them in the order she experiences them.” – now that would be icing on the cake.

    Having secured an M1 laptop from work, it sure would be swell to run Jer’s on it. I’m seriously considering buying Parallels to run Jer’s under El Capitan in a VM window. Your software has always given me pleasure, nothing comes close. I have no idea how fast a VM El Capitan installation is on an M1 laptop, but it’d be better than most other writing apps.

    Thanks for making this lovely, lovely software, Jerry.

    Jez Lerman
    Jez.Lerman @ gmail. com

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