I'm very new to LyX and LaTeX, but keep seeing it mentioned while Googling for composing a novel. I'm understanding that it might offer the simplicity of being able to focus on writing the story, without worrying about the format, while at the same time handling the format so everything is arranged precisely, and with perfect type-setting, and ready to go. And, that with the Outline/Table-of-Contents tab, on LyX, I'll be able to see the arrangement of chapters and scenes to move them around, cut-and-pasting them as necessary.

I'm thinking that if I learn LyX, I can just enter the text, then draft and re-draft it to perfection and see the whole content. Unlike some of the special novel writing software that's out there already, at the end of my project, with LyX, I should have a novel that I can print, and it should actually be ALREADY formatted like a book, ready to go (without having to send off to a professional publishing house for conversion using their secrete software ;-) And, unlike Word, Libre-Office, or Abiword, I won't have to spend the majority of my time worrying about arranging the format, fonts, layout, etc... In short, I should be able to focus on creating the story rather than creating the book, at the end everything will be in its proper spot.

And so, I'm wondering if I'm understanding the potential power of LyX and LaTeX correctly, that its main use is for any document that uses a strict pre-defined format, such as creating Text Books with very complex formats and/or formula, or a novel with simple, but strict, format requirements.

I keep reading about "templates", "classes" and "modules", to which I really don't understand the difference just yet. But I'm looking for one designed for novels.

Should I try to learn LyX and LaTeX, and try to find a template to compose a novel, or am I trying to figure out how to operate a bulldozer to move a small bucket of dirt? :-) If not, please recommend a novel template or module?

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    For the novel template you could check: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/66902/… May 13, 2013 at 14:57
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    New document class for novels: github.com/RobtAll/novel
    – user103221
    Feb 22, 2017 at 17:57
  • This class looks valuable to a potentially new group of TeX users. That class fills in a typesetting gap (literary) currently not well covered by CTAN. Scientific and Academic needs seem well met, but not something like Novels. Is this going to be placed their at some point?
    – user12711
    Feb 23, 2017 at 0:06
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    @user12711 The novel document class is now on CTAN. At the time I write this, it is there, but not all mirrors have it yet. Be sure to get version 1.0.6 or later. Back on GitHub, you can see an actual novel in source code and PDF, typeset with this class.
    – user103221
    Mar 3, 2017 at 3:39

1 Answer 1


A lot depends on your intentions.

If you intend to submit your novel to agents and publishers, then I don't think LaTeX (as such) would be either necessary or a very good plan. Outside the fields where LaTeX is commonly used, that is not the format that publishers are going to want your novel in. Word is probably the most commonly used format, though they could probably handle RTF or plain text.

If, on the other hand, this is being done more for your own pleasure -- or if you are considering publishing the novel yourself, then LaTeX could be a very good format. You are quite right that it can produce really high quality output.

My advice would actually be to take a middle course, and write your novel in Markdown. That may seem weird, but markdown is a simple format; it's easy to write with in a text editor, and it can be very simply converted to other formats including LaTeX -- but also Word and RTF.

Many people (not just novelists) find that a "bare" text editor is a good distraction-free way to write, and there's a minor industry in "stripped down" writing software aimed at novelists, like iAWriter, Dark Room, WriteRoom,Write Monkey and no doubt others too. Most of these assume/encourage the use of markdown. Some can export to other formats. And anyway it's very easy to export markdown pretty reliably to various formats (including .docx, .rtf and LaTeX) using the remarkable pandoc.

The advantage of using markdown is that it gives you huge flexibility, it's unobtrusive markup in ordinary use, you probably know it already, and you can find an editor aimed at "distraction-free" writing (whereas, for the most part, TeX and LaTeX editors and modes are fairly "busy", because they rightly assume that many of those who use them will have the rather formatting-heavy requirements of the typical academic paper.

That is not at all to discourage you from having a look at LaTeX, if only for the pleasure of experimenting with how your novel might look when it's printed. For that, many people find the memoir package a very good starting point, not least for its really interesting manual. If you decide to "get into" TeX/LaTeX, you can easily keep the manuscript in markdown and export it to a TeX format which can be included, with probably fairly light editing if any at all, into a documentclass which LaTeX can compile -- while confident that if your agent tells you that a major publishing house will pay $1 million for it but only if you can produce a Word manuscript in 5 minutes, pandoc will be able to take care of that too.

  • I've been writing a novel in Pandoc-flavored Markdown and using Pandoc to convert to PDF (by way of TeX) and have found it a very nice combination. Compared to LaTeX itself, the markup is much less distracting and just feels like a natural way of annotating plain text. Yet I know that I can generated TeX easily using Pandoc, with all the power that entails. Dec 5, 2014 at 7:22

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