Comprehensive Help File


Many contributors to the yWriter discussion groups have helped me to learn from them and put this help file together. Particular thanks to Dave Shaw. Matters are grouped within alphabetical order within the categories below.


Before you start your own project (novel) we strongly suggest that you review the section immediately below. To get to know yWriter5, use this Help and the yWriter sample to get a better feeling of how the programme works and what it can do.

What are the basic features of the main screen?

The Main Screen is the one that opens up when you first start yWriter. The left side lists chapters. The right side lists scenes. In the middle is a vertical splitter bar which you can move (explained later). At the top of the page are tool bars.

I’ve notice the letters W S P to the right of the chapter title. What do they stand for?

W = Number of Words. S = Number of Scenes P = Progressive word count. 

Under the P column when you add chapters, some of the figures are in green, some in orange and some in red. What does this indicate? 

Green is Beginning section; Orange is Middle; Red is End. Let’s say you want to divide your novel into three Acts. You can do this and mark off these sections by going to Chapter>Mark as start of middle section and Chapter> Mark as start of end section.

Can I resize the Main Screen to see more horizontal information pertaining to Chapters and Scene lists?

The vertical splitter in the middle of the page can be moved left or right by clicking and dragging. For further information go to:

Why would I want to resize the Main (opening) Screen from time to time?

By placing your cursor on the vertical splitter bar, pressing the left mouse button and holding it down, you can drag the splitter bar to the right. You can then see in one line: (1) the Chapter Title, (2) W/S/P, and (3) the first 11 words or so of the description (DESC). The expanded description for that chapter is at the foot of the page.

It is recommended that you type your chapter Title in capitals to differentiate it from the description (summary of chapter content).

By dragging the splitter bar to the left, you can see: Viewpoint/Words/Scenes/Status/A/R/Filename/Letters/Characters/Locations Items/ Date and time.

You can expand the width of individual scene columns and choose to have these columns in a different order.

How do I move this main screen to see what other programmes I have opened?

Use the minimize bar.

Make the screen slightly smaller by clicking the ‘restore down’ button on the very top right corner next to the delete button. Then hold down your left mouse button, place your cursor on the top blue horizontal bar and drag.

What do you use DESC (Description) on the Chapter side of the main screen for?

DESC lets you see ‘at a glance’ the first few words of your description of what takes place (i.e. WHAT HAPPENS) in that chapter. You enter this information by going to Chapter>Edit description box for each chapter. Without opening up any chapters, by simply running your eye down the Title and Desc columns, you will have a good idea of your novel’s storyline. Clicking on any chapter opens up the scene list on the right for more information.

Tip! Some writers prefer to work at a more detailed level. Instead of working with Chapters and Scenes, they prefer to work with ‘Scenes’ and ‘Beats’. In place of a chapter title, they insert a scene title. The scene list then holds the beats of their story. yWriter can accommodate both approaches. This help file takes an orthodox approach and focuses on Chapters and Scenes,

Tip! The chapter title orients the reader as to what is happening. The Description (DESC) embellishes upon this. Some writers consciously give the information under DESC a consistent slant such as: ‘Effect on protagonist’ or ‘How theme advanced’ or ‘Events in external world only.

Can I change the project title or author name?

Click on Project>Project settings and enter information.

If I change the project title, will the name change on the file folder? Are there any special precautions I need to take?


THE TOOL BAR: Can you give me an overview of the main tabs and how they work?

yWriter is easy to work with once you find your way around. The box below lists all the ‘tabs’ you can click.

TIP! By looking at the information in the box below, you should be able to find the tool you want swiftly. Remember where this box is – in case you want to come back here!

Most items are self-explanatory. Those in red have an explanatory note below the table. Please refer to toolbars on your practice yWriter5 sample


Create empty project

New project wizard

Open project

Open project folder

Recent projects: yWriter5 sample—Your novel

Import into new project:- Import a work in progress --Convert an outline into chapters and scenes--Import yWriter2 project -- Import yWriter 3 project--Import yWriter 4 project

Import into current project: Scenes (RTF/TXT files) – Characters – Locations – Items-- Append yWriter5 project

Print project

Save project

Export project: To Html-- to text-- To RFT-- To Nanorimo Obfusticated text—Outline—Synopsis--Synopsis with HTML timeline--Scene descriptions

Export selected chapters: To RTF--To yW5 format

Export selected scenes

Export data: Characters—Locations--Items

Close project

Load previous project on start up

Project settings



Work schedule: Complete-- Outline only--Draft only--1st Edit only--2nd edit only--

Synopsis: Summary (short scene descriptions)-- Brief synopsis (long scene descriptions)-- Full synopsis both descriptions

Daily writing target

One day writing worksheet

Set report width


Find (Ctrl-F)

Find next (F3)

Find previous (shift-F3)

Global search and replace

Find ‘Problem Words’: Pre-defined-- User defined-- Use F3 to find next--Use F5 to swap for replacement


Create new chapter

Create multiple chapters

Edit selected chapter

Mark as start of middle section

Mark as start of end section

Renumber chapters

Toggle Used/unused

Toggle Chapter/Order

Combine selected chapter(s)

Remove selected chapter(s)

Reports: Print selected chapter(s)--Print chapter descriptions

Import/Export--Export chapter--Import chapter

SCENE***For details of scene editing page blue below

Create new scene

Create multiple scenes

Edit select scene ( Scene editor)

Scene editor page tabs

FILE: Save-- Save and Exit--Close

SCENE: Insert scene (before current) -- Add scene (after current) -- Print scene-- Split scene on * * *-- Spit scene on *** -- Split screen on # -- Split scene on custom -- Show word usage --View scene in yBook

Remove Picture

EDIT: Undo (Ctrl-Z) --Redo (Ctrl-Y)—Copy—Paste--Find (Ctrl-F)--Find next (F3)--Find previous (Shift-F3)--Replace (Ctrl-H)-- Clear select highlight

SPELLING: Install dictionary-- Open the Dictionary folder

SETTINGS: Autoback ups and Punctuation--Choose default font

Mark known: characters-- locations-- items-- Clickable hyperlinks

Set font colour -- Set background color –

Custom colours--Set known customs colour --Set locations colour-- Set locations colour –Defaults --Set spell check colour—Default-- Setup highlight colours

Set paragraph indent

Allow TAB in editor window

Use right control for DBSC entry

Hide font bar

Typewriter sounds



Writing tips

Keyboard shortcuts

Status ratings

Scene specific tags

Content: Viewpoint --Scene title

Details: Action—Reaction—Plot—Subplot—Ratings—Tags—Status--Append to previous scene—Time scene begins—time switch and calendar --duration

Characters: Present in scene—full name -- nickname





Goals: Goal – Conflict – Outcome or Reaction – Dilemma - Choice

Set completion status: Outline—Draft-- 1st Edit--2nd Edit--Done

Toggle used/unused

Set font across all scenes

Remove formatting from all scenes

Renumber scenes

Combine selected scenes

Remove selected scene(s)

Delete duplicate scenes

Delete orphan scenes

Reports: Print selected scene(s)-- Print scene notes-- Print scene cards-- Print scenes per tag--Print scene list


Add new


Add to current scene

Automatically add characters to scenes

Show scenes per character

Show word count per character

Reports: Print character list-- Print scenes per character-- Print characters per tag


Add new


Add location to current scene

Automatically add locations to scenes

Reports: Print location list-- Print scenes per location--Print locations per tag


Add new


Add items to current scene

Automatically add items to scenes

Reports: Print item list –Print scenes per item – Print items per tag



Display scene list

Scene ratings chart

Show word usage count

Daily Word Count Target

Daily progress log

Back-ups: Back up entire project -- Set scene editor Autobackup options -- View Autobackups -- Automatic daily backup of entire project-- Restore Autobackup-- Configure FTP site(s)-- Backup to FTP

Debug: Create debug file -- View log-- Check for BETA version-- Open settings folder

Select User Interface font: Arial Unicode MS-- MS sans serif—Tahoma-- Windows default (Tahoma 8.5)

Select User Interface size

Check for new version


Choose language: (Many)

Create template txt file

Rewrite all language files


Why is this software free?

About yWriter

Quick start guide

Manual (HTML)

Manual (German, HTML)

yWriter web page

yWriter Wiki

yWriter discussion group

My articles on writing
Recommended books on writing

Here is a brief explanation of some items, what they do and how you use them.

Convert an outline into chapters and scenes


Scenes (RTF/TXT files)


To Nanorimo Obfusticated text


Synopsis with HTML timeline


Pre-defined-- User defined


Split scene on custom


Clickable hyperlinks


Use right control for DBSC entry


Delete orphan scenes


Create template txt file


ABOUT yWriter

What does yWriter do?

Organise your novel using a 'project'.
Add chapters to the project.
Add scenes, characters, items and locations.
Display the word count for every file in the project, along with a total.
Saves a log file every day, showing words per file and the total. (Tracks your progress.)
Saves automatic backups at user-specified intervals.
Allows multiple scenes within chapters.
Viewpoint character, goal, conflict and outcome fields for each scene.
Multiple characters per scene.
Storyboard view, a visual layout of your work.
Re-order scenes within chapters.
Drag and drop of chapters, scenes, characters, items and locations.
Automatic chapter renumbering.

Who has developed this and made this writing tool freely available?

Simon Haynes. For further information go to:

Can I write all the content of my novel in yWriter5? How secure is the information? 

Yes. Your chapter and scene content is stored in individual RTF files while everything else is contained in the yWriter5 project file.  It is backed up every five minutes automatically so you can never lose more than five minutes work. (See also backups below.)

When everything updates to a new version, will I lose all my data if I upgrade?


Are there any other uses for yWriter besides writing stories?

Some possibilities:

(1) Outline your memoirs for an ethical will/legacy statement to leave for your family (see:,

(2) Make an inventory of assets room by room,

(3) Keep track of correspondence: Letters/emails I must send in one chapter; letters/emails of people who must reply to me in another,

(4) Create a file for Recipe book (with downloaded photos), collection of poems, memorabilia

(5) Record discussions held on various blogs, etc.,

(6) Use as a sophisticated filing cabinet. 

Where do I find the NEW yWriter discussion group?

The new Google group is here:!forum/yWriterg

How do I use this help menu below?

Questions and answers have been categorized. By double-clicking on a question the answer is revealed. Double click again to turn the toggle off.

Can this help menu be improved and added to?

Yes. If you would like to help, go to:

BACKUPS. How do I…

make backups and keep a file of these?

Go to Tools/Backups/Backup Entire Project and take note of the date in Project
notes that you are making a backup, so you can find that backup easily. See next note.

There are also some helpful back up programs on the web: 

make regular backups?

The normal yWriter backups should be sufficient to protect you from a 
yWriter failure, but you should also make regular backups (copies) of your 
folder(s) in which the project data is held.

Note that if you try a beta version and have problems with it, you can always go back to your previous production version of yWriter by going to Tools/Debug/Open settings folder and running yWriter5Upd.exe, which contains the last production version of yWriter that you loaded.  The beta version will be in yWriter5BetaUpd.exe.

view backups?

Go to: Tools>Backups>ViewAutobackups.

Get more information on backups?

Go to:


add information to a chapter?

Double click on the chapter Title on the Main Screen (or go to Project>Project Settings). This will bring up a dialogue box in which you more fully describe what happens. This box also contains the Project name, Author, Deadlines and Scene summaries.

Single click on the chapter Title to activate the list of scenes you have drafted for that chapter. 

combine chapters?

Highlight all the chapters you want to combine (press shift + left mouse button) and select Chapter>combine selected chapters. All the scenes will appear in the right order. (You can easily reshuffle scenes by dragging and dropping.) The extra chapter titles will disappear, but the chapter descriptions should end up aggregated into one long description.

create a scene outside of a chapter? 

Create a chapter titled ‘Other + Unused'. Move it to the very bottom of 
the chapter list. (So it doesn’t get in the way when you want to print stuff). You can move any scene out of here any time into another chapter by dragging it there. (One wit called this ‘dump site’ his 'whine cellar'). 

create a new chapter?

Right click on chapter Title (or click Chapter>Create new chapter.)

create a Title page?

A Title page can't be added until you export the novel and format it for submission. If you really want one, create a chapter 0, and add a scene. Call the scene Title Page and type in the title. TIP! You may want to MOVE the zero chapter to the end of the book while editing printing the synopsis, then move it back to produce the manuscript you want to print.

edit a chapter Title?

Double click on the chapter Title. A pop up box will appear. Keep your Title short. Change Title. Any Description below this Title will appear in DESC (adjacent to the title on the Main screen). TIP! It will only show about the first 11 words of your description. Warning! Pressing Cancel in the pop up dialogue box deletes everything!

get an overview of the contents of a chapter?

Double click on the Chapter Title. Read description and scene summaries.

insert a DESC (Description)? 

NOTE! The word ‘Description’ appears in two places. [Ed: This really confused me at first Suggest Chapter Summary and Scene Summary consistently used.] There is a difference between a ‘Chapter Description’ (DESC) and a ‘Scene Description’ (think Scene Summary)’?

A Chapter Description is added by clicking Chapter>Edit selected chapter and going to Description.

A Scene Description (Scene Summary) is added by clicking Scene>Edit selected scene and then writing the Description in the box at the bottom of the Scene Editor page.

TIP! When you open Chapter> Edit selected Chapter, the Scene summaries (read only) give a good overview and synopsis.

move chapters? 

 Drag and drop, and then choose Chapter>Renumber chapters if you chose.

re-number chapters automatically

When you have to insert, move, or drop a chapter, you can use the Chapter>Renumber chapters option. The auto-renumbering works without messing up the descriptions so you will still know what's going on in each chapter. TIP! Use chapter headings rather than chapter numbers. 

use Mark as Beginning, middle, end?

There are two ways of doing this:

Select the chapter you want for your middle section. Click on this then go to Chapter>Mark as start of middle section. Click. Do the same procedure for you ending chapters.

A more sophisticated approach is this: Let’s say instead of three sections (3 Acts) you could have five sections (Five Acts). Double click on a chapter. A pop up box called Chapter Details will appear. Tick the box: This chapter begins a new section. That bolds the chapter title in the list, which can be a useful reference. There are no named sections, but it does give you as many as you want.  

By going to Chapter Details again and unticking the box you can change where the sections start. 

use The Toggle Chapter used/unused or Toggle Chapter/other?

Occasionally you might decide to shelve an entire chapter which contains good scenes that no longer fit in with your story. Simply toggle it ‘unused’ by right clicking on the chapter and clicking on Toggle used/unused. Notice that the Chapter Icon changes from CH to U. Notice the drop in your word count since this chapter now falls ‘outside your book’. If you want to ‘restore’ the chapter, click Toggle used/unused again.

Some people may prefer to create a chapter called Other which they place at the end of their scene list. This is perhaps handier when you want to print a report. If you toggle Chapter/other the Chapter Icon changes from CH to I.

The toggle used/ unused chapter (the same approach can be applied to or scenes) is what the yWriter uses for "disabling" chunks of text. Unused chapters and scenes are not included in the relevant word counts, but otherwise there's no difference.

 view a chapter? 

Select the chapter containing one or more scenes. In the main menu, click Chapter> Print Selected Chapter(s). Click Yes. The entire chapter will now open in your web browser, formatted and ready to print. TIP. You don’t have to print out. You can read what you have written on screen.

How many scenes must a chapter have?

At least one.

What happens when I right click on a chapter Title?

See for yourself! TIP The right mouse key is very useful when editing both chapters and scenes.


add characters to populate my novel?

Go to Characters>Add new. A pop up box will appear. TIP In the first instance, simply write down the full name and short name (nickname) and tick whether this is a major or minor character. Click OK. Make a character list of all possible characters who may populate your book. When you have done this you can click Characters>View/Edit to see your list. All the names will appear in the right hand column. By double clicking on any of the names here you can go back to the pop up box to add more details.

add characters to any particular scene?

Open a scene by going to Scene>Create New. Click on the character tab. Click on the character(s) you want to appear in that scene by placing the cursor over the character, holding the mouse key down and dragging that character over to the left-hand side. Made a mistake? Drag that character back again.

add more detailed information about my characters?

Click Characters>View/edit. Double click on the person’s name. A dialogue box will pop up. Information can be inserted there.

Open a scene. Click the character’s tab. There are two boxes below the list of characters. The left one contains the description of the character, the right one contains notes.

arrange my characters in a specific order?

Go to Characters tab on the menu bar, and then View/Edit. You will see the characters listed. Drag and drop them into the order you want. 

auto- assign characters to scenes?


change character details quickly?

Open scene. Click character tab. Double click on name

change a character name easily after I have written many chapters?

Go to Search>Global search and replace. Just make sure you tick 'Match Case' and 'Whole Word Only', or you'll wreck things badly. 

For individual scenes, in the scene editor window you can also use the Edit/Replace function. 

Or export to a word document and search and replace.

delete a character? From one scene? Expunge entirely?

To remove a character from a scene, open the scene, click Character, and drag the unwonted name from the left to the right. To delete a character entirely click on Character>View/Edit, double click on the name in the drop down box, and use the delete button marked with a X.

edit a character?

Press Character >View/Edit on the Main Screen

get yWriter to help me to develop my novel’s characters?

When you open a scene there is a character tab. By clicking on this there is a dialogue box. BIO clearly means biography. In the NOTES tab you can paste a template with dozens of questions about your character which you can fill in.

See for example, 

use the Cancel button when I open up the (1) character, (2) item or (3) location boxes, respectively?

On the main Screen, double click View/edit on the character, item or location tabs (You can also do this from the Scene Editor window.) A dialogue box pops up. WARNING! If you press the Cancel button you will lose everything in that box. Preferably use the delete key if you want to get rid of information.

rearrange the order of characters on the character list?

Go to Characters>View/edit. You can drag and drop names on the master character list into a different order. 

tell in which scene(s) a character is in?

Select Reports -> Print Scenes by Character. It only tells you which chapter 
they are in, not which scene within the chapter, and the total number 
of scenes they are in. There is no way to view this information without printing.


highlight a character’s names when running spell check?

Answer needed

highlight text and what for?


highlight the ‘‘scene title’ in a different colour’?

Answer needed

remove a highlight from words in the Content page?

Run your cursor over the text you wish to un-highlight and double-click on the dropdown box ‘Clear selected highlight’

make use of highlighting to assist me write a novel?

Ideas welcome!! Possibilities:

(1) Put all dialogue in blue, (2) use different background colours to express the underlying emotions in a scene. For example, red = anger, yellow = fear, purple = jealousy. When you go to the scene-list and scroll down the list of scenes you get a swift feeling for the emotions involved. You can of course increase intensity and hue of colour to demonstrate deepening passions.

use background colour?

Ideas welcome! One use might be to have white for the scene (action) and another colour background for the sequel (reaction).

Some might want to put all flash forward of flashback scenes in colour.

Others might want to let the background colour represent the dominant mood of that scene that you wish to convey.

use highlighting to review the content of my chapters?

You could colour code action in blue, speech in orange, effect on other characters in red, characters own reaction to persons, things, circumstances in green; descriptions in pink, facts in orange, feelings in mauve

use colour coding to make your work easier? Summaries in green? What else?


use lots of colours for different things or will this slow up the program?


Can scene notes be highlighted?


In the Scene editor window the drop down only offers one color, yellow.  How do you change this? 

In the editor window, click Settings>Custom colours>Set up highlight colours.  There you can create your own.

Why does the description box change colours and can I change this? 

If you toggle a chapter unused (see drop down box under chapter), the background in the description changes to orange. The same applies to scenes.

Editors setting menu

If you switch off 'highlight character names' in the editor settings menu, this stops the double-clicking opening up of the character sheet.


import and export?

Go to

I found the description here quite frightening. Suppose I have written a chapter. Don’t I simply export that to RTF in Word and then(if desired covert this into a Word document? O can do that!!

import (copy?) in a new project the Location / Character / Item lists that exist in an old project?

Look at Project/Export Data and Project/Import into current project.  It should do exactly what you want.

Open the project you want to export from.

Project/Export Data/ (type of data). 
3. yWriter will create the export file, then tell you the path and file name.  If you forget to make a note of it, it will be in this project's Export folder.
 4. Open the project you want to export into.  You may close the project you exported from at any time.
 5. Project/Import into existing project/ (type of data).
 6... Navigate to the exported file - again, if you didn't note its location, it's in the Export folder of the project you exported from.
 7. Open the file and it will bring in the data.

import an rtf or txt file?

To import an .rtf or .txt file into a new scene, go to Project/Import into current project/Scenes (RTF/TXT files).  Note that it creates new scene(s) in the selected chapter.   It does not add to or overwrite existing scenes. For completeness, let me add that if scenes aren't in the correct order or in the correct chapters, you just drag and drop them to where you want them. 

move scenes and notes into another yWriter project?

Highlight one or more chapters in the list, then use Export Selected Chapters. You can then Import these chapters into another yWriter project, where they'll be appended to the end. All scenes, content, characters, items, etc used in those chapters will also be transferred

move scenes and notes into another document? 

It produces an .rtf file, which you can then open in Word. Just treat it as a .doc file with a different extension.

Does exporting affect the project in YWriter?  Does yWriter send out a copy and leave the original intact?

The .rtf file is a separate copy of the book. Exporting doesn't change anything in the yWriter project.


add a dictionary? Which one? Does this slow your computer down?

Open the Scene editor window by double clicking Scene>View/Edit. Click Spelling>Install dictionary. TIP If you right click within the contents page you have access to an online Dictionary and Thesaurus.

add a word to the custom dictionary?

You need to install the dictionary first!

Highlight the word and right click for the menu to add words to the custom dictionary,  

add typewriter sounds – for fun?

Open the scene editor window. Click Settings>Typewriter sounds.

find the yWriter group and the yWriter archive?

New yWriter group:!forum/yWriter

yWriter archive: Optional review file no posting

go about writing a memoir?

Here’s an interesting site to record personal memoirs

find where to place my overview of the whole project (Novel)?

 Go to Project>Project settings. When you click on this you will see a box headed ‘Description’. This could just have easily been called ‘Overview.’

Tip You can write this overview as though you were writing the blurb for the back cover of your novel or a ‘pitch’ for a movie script..

PICTURE How do I …

add ‘picture’ to a scene?

Open scene. Click Picture tab on top right of page next to goals. Press the 'Select' button. Locate the picture you want to use. Click it once and press 'Open'. * To remove picture in the Scene Editor window, click Scene>remove picture. A picture no larger than 300 pixels long and 400 pixels wide is recommended as large images are slow to load.

tell the number of pixels? How do I reduce the picture size?

Answer needed

add a picture or image directly from the Internet?

Answer needed?

estimate the number of scenes to which I can add pictures without slowing yWriter down dramatically?


Print out a picture?

Go to Scene>Print Scene

PLOTTING. How do I …

get a summary overview of my novel. How do I do this?

Please see the REPORTS section below. Reports can be viewed as well as printed.

keep track of, and view, subplots

One way would be to use tags: Subplot1; subplot 2. To see how to view Tags go to the TAGS section below.

outline using yWriter5?

Step 1:  Open a new project by opening Project>NewProjectWizard

Step 2: Click Chapter>CreateMultipleChapers. Accept defaults (25 chapters). They are originally by default called CH Chapter 1, CH Chapter 2, CH Chapter 3 etc. 
Step 3: Change this chapter title to give a story event by double-clicking on the Chapter Title.
CH Jack Goes Shopping
CH A Surprise at the Video Store
CH A Missing Shoe
Continue in this way moving chapters around, deleting, inserting new chapters at will.

When you double click the chapter it allows you to enter  (a) a chapter description (what happens in this chapter?) and (b) a list of scenes in the chapter. Do this. You can print out this outline. How? Reports>Synopsis. This report will list your chapter names and short chapter descriptions.

Step 4 Create your second outline level. How? Highlight Chapter 1. Select Scene. Click CreateMultipleScenes and accept the default. This will create 5 scenes in Chapter 1 (or whatever else you’ve named it). By default these are named New Scene 1, New Scene 2. But like the chapters you can rename them any way you please.

[NOTE: You have to add scenes to chapters individually. You cannot say ‘add five scenes to all chapters. Your outline could now look like this: 
CH Jack goes shopping
  Sc Meets estranged wife and has violent argument
  Sc Hears on the phone that estranged wife is pregnant
CH The hospital
  Sc Jack hunts high and low to find out where the baby is
  Sc Meets up with Snoopy, the private detective.
You can print out this next level of detailed outline. How?


Step 5: Flesh out your outline. How? Click on your first chapter. Click on first scene in scene list. Below the list of scenes you will find a list of tabs [Content, Descriptions, Characters etc] and below this a textbox in which to write stuff. By default the Content tab is selected and the textbox will be empty unless you have begun writing a scene. Click the Descriptions Tab, Click anywhere inside the empty text box to make it active. Type in an outline or synopsis of the scene – use present tense. Do this for all the scenes and chapters.

When you are done with this process print out a detailed outline. 
Reports>Synopsis>FullSynopsis) and there is the complete outline of your novel

 The outline is roughly like this: 
CH Heading

Short scene descriptions                

Step 6: Write your novel 
How: With your printout beside you begin writing the actual novel by
creating each scene.
You can do this in three ways
a) Use yWriter's inbuilt text editor (double click the scene and it
will open)
b) Use your default RTF writer – mine is Ms Word How? Right click on
the scene select ‘Open content with default RTF editor’. When you’ve
finished and saved the RTF file
 into your project right click the 
scene again and select ‘Finished with external Editor or
c) use any other text editing app, save as txt or rtf and import into
yWriter How? Select the Chapter/outline node into which you wish to import the scene. Select
  Project.ImportIntoCurrentProject. Scenes select the txt or rtf and 

Step 7: Housekeeping. 
As you write your scenes
 update your chapter titles, short chapter 
descriptions scene names and scene descriptions. This way you continue
to integrate outline development and writing progress. Also keep your
characters, locations items up to date as you proceed through the
outlining and writing processes. You end up with a completed novel and
current synopsis.

I have adapted this from someone in the discussion group. Do we need to acknowledge author?

plot – the Simon Haynes method?

Go to

show a progression of political themes (e.g., pollution, corruption, global warming,)) 

Possibilities: Go to Project>Project Settings> Rating names, currently humour/quality/etc and set increasing values between 1-10 for each chapter

Colour code background of edit scene window of increasing hues, each hue (colour) representing one of your dimensions, viz politics? 

use colour coding when plotting in yWriter?

What are your ideas?

Many plays have Act 1, Act II and Act III. You can use Chapter>Mark chapter as middle and Chapter>Mark chapter as end to set these divisions with a number of scenes in each section for beginning, middle and end.
Highlight the end chapters in the chapter list by holding down the shift key and cling with the left mouse button, then select [Chapter>Mark start of end section] and the word count numerals turn red.
Highlight your middle chapters in the same way and selected [
Chapter>Mark start of Middle section] and their numbers turn orange.
The beginning will remain green.

use reminders to keep me on track?

Open a chapter by double clicking on the chapter list. This opens a dialogue box. In the bottom left corner of this box is a tick box which says, “This chapter begins a new section”. You can obviously have a number of bolded chapters in your story perhaps to represent:

(1)Set-up and inciting incident and beginning of quest

(2) Development of story until reversal and change of direction

(3) Moving forward until major crisis strikes

(4) Overcoming difficulties and complexities

(5) A shattering major setback just when your protagonist was winning

(6) The denouement, climax and aftermath.

Code chapters in the title PP1, PP2 (Plot point 1) to remind you of where you are.

use the Storyboard?

You can shuffle scenes quickly forward and back.

use the button ‘Plot’ or ‘subplot’ in Scene Editor under Details?. What does this button do and how can it help in the writing process??

Answer. Where does it show up that a scene is a subplot?

use the functionality of yWriter to help me plot?

(1) For each scene, indicate how that scene has changed the character in some way. (See Story by Robert McKee) You could colour code backgrounds in the content box to express an emotion.

(2) You could open say a dozen chapters with titles of geographic places where events take place: Hotel, airport. Then put the various events that take place here into scenes. For more details see

PRINTING. How do I …

make my manuscript ‘submission ready?

You best approach is probably to use the Project/Export Project to RTF option, do final formatting using a word processor (MS Word,, WordPerfect, or whatever suits you). TIP With the new yWriter export/import chapter feature, you can export a chapter, [how?] do your spelling and grammar check, then re-importing the content [how?] before starting on the next chapter. That way all changes are applied to yWriter's version semi-automatically. Alternately, you can export to HTML and print from your browser.  Or, you can export to TXT and print that, but your formatting options are limited and you lose any line spacing, bold, italics, etc. that you had set in yWriter

print out my work?

Click ‘Project>Print project. A dialogue box comes up. You have some choices: By using the First file/Last file you can print chapters (for example 1, 2, 3) but you cannot print chapters 1 and 3 only without 2 unless you consecutively print 1 and then 3.

You can easily print All chapters by clicking the All tag.

You can print all chapters with a specific tag.

You can print only those scenes with a specific viewpoint character by selecting that character.

Note: When you click OK, you will be asked “Do you want to print out scene summaries?” You can answer yes or no. If you say yes you get all the extra info. If you say no you just get chapter headings and scene separators (as per a printed book)

On completion a page will appear which you can print by right clicking and saying ‘Print’. Alternatively you can review what you have written. When you click 'Print Selected Chapter(s)' or 'Print Project' you get a dialog box Please review,.

print Project Notes?

Select the Project Notes tab on the Main Screen above the scene list. Right click in the list of notes.  There are two options, Print selected note(s) and Print all notes.  [You can select the notes for the first one by standard Windows means (click, ctrl-click, shift-click).]  Please review

print out scene cards?

For the full story on scene cards, go to

print by tag? 

Go to: Items>Reports>Print Items per tag

RATINGS. How do I …

change the Scene/Details/Ratings?

For each scene you can give a rating using one of four criteria marked out of 10. If you don’t like the current criteria you can change them. Go to Project>Project settings>rating names.

Some possibilities might be:

(1) Relevance (2) Humour (3) Tension (4) Quality

(1) External conflict (2) Internal conflict (2) Antagonist conflict (4) Interpersonal conflict
(1) Action (2) Sex (3) Emotions (4) Flashback

(1) Taste (2) Touch (3) Sight (4) Sound

(1) Discovery (2) Reversal (3) Complication (4) Crisis

(1) Action, (2) Conflict, (3) Imagery, (4) Dialogue

TIP! Any word must not be more than 9 characters.

How does the scene ratings chart work?

You can find this at Tools>Scenes rating chart. Expand. Mine screen is empty! How does stuff get in here?


resave my project under another name?

In yWriter, go to Tools/Backups/Backup Entire Project, then Tools>Backups>RestoreAutobackup and restore to a new folder.
 Open the folder that contains your project folder with Windows Explorer and make a copy of the project folder and all its contents. 
Use archive or backup software to make copies of your project folder and its contents.

rename files?

Go to:

If you really have to rename the scene files, this is the way to do it. Warning: one false move and your project won't load any more.
First, ensure you've closed yWriter so there's no chance your project is still open. Next, right-click the project file in Windows Explorer and click Open With ... (If you don't see the Open With ... option, hold the shift key before right-clicking.)Choose WordPad. Don't tick 'Always use this program’. You’ll see the contents of the project file on your screen.
Search for the filename you want to change within the file.
Change the filename. Now open the RTF5 folder, locate the file you wish to change and rename it to match. Save and close the project file.
Now, when you reopen your project, yWriter will use the new scene filename. As I say, this is really, really not something anyone should be doing, but the option is there if you need it.

rename my project Folder?

Your options:
1) Tools/Backups/Backup Entire Project.
2) Tools/Backups/Restore Autobackup??????????

rename my project story from ‘My story’ to ‘My interesting story’?

The only name that has to be different is the folder that the project is stored in.  The project file doesn't have to be renamed.  If you want to change the name of the project itself, you can do it from within yWriter.  You CAN rename the project file if you really want to, but that will mean that you won't be able to restore older yWriter backups of that project without a clear understanding of what you've done and what you need to do.  There aren't any other files that you should rename, in my opinion. You can also start a new project and import the existing project into the new name. 

rename my Project title?

Go to:

renumber chapters?

[Ed : I pressed the button but I don’t know what happened. Please say what is supposed to happen

renumber scenes?

Ensure your scene titles begin with the word 'Scene' (capital S), then a space then the number. (Renumbering will only affect scenes in the selected chapter, not everything in the project.)
It is probably better to use titles like 'Jack and Jill go up the hill' rather
than 'Scene 3'. You can already see its scene 3 because it's the
third scene in that chapter). If you drag it up by one spot it's
now scene 2.
 However, if you want to use the 'Scene 1', 'Scene 2' format instead of descriptive titles, yWriter now has a renumber for scene titles too.


Overall synopsis

Important note: If you click on Reports> Synopsis you will get three different synopses (which you can print out) of your entire novel.

TIP! You can view your story from here. You don’t have to actually print out.

Note: When you click on any of these chapters a pop up box will appear saying ‘First file’ and ‘Last file’ refer to the same chapter.

Summary (short scene descriptions):

Chapter number but not title,

Scene number


the scene title,

word count,

each scene in draft mode, 1st edit etc.

Brief synopsis (long scene descriptions):

Chapter number but not title,

Scene number


the scene title

NO word count

NO mention of draft mode 1st edit, etc

PLUS Scene description.

Full synopsis both short and long descriptions [headed ‘expanded synopsis in the report]

Chapter number but not title,

Scene number and viewpoint,

the scene title

word count

+ Total number of word in chapter

Scene description.

each scene in draft mode, 1st edit etc

Chapter reports

TIP To get the reports of more than one chapter, you must select the chapter(s) for which you want reports. Here’s how. In the chapter list, press the ctrl button and the chapters you want. Crl +1 and Ctrl + 3 will give you reports for chapters 1 and 3.

TIP! You can view your story from here. You don’t have to actually print out

Go to Chapter>Reports

(1) PRINT SELECTED CHAPTER without summaries:

(a) The title of each chapter-- the overall chapter action

(b) the Details of each scene [your story as it will appear in book form]

(2) PRINT SELECTED CHAPTER with summaries: This gives you

(a) The title of each chapter-- the overall chapter action

(b) the Details of each scene [your story as it will appear in book form]

(c) the viewpoint character for each scene;

(d) the ratings; (d) the scene file name;

(e) a description of key events that takes place in each chapter;


(a) The title of each chapter -- the overall chapter action

(e) a description of key events that take place in each chapter

Scene reports

Go to: Scene> Reports

TIP! You can view your story from here. You don’t have to actually print out.

Got to Scene> Reports>Print selected scenes 

Got to Scene> Reports>Print scene notes 

Got to Scene> Reports>Print scene cards 

Got to Scene> Reports>Print scenes per tag 

Got to Scene> Reports>Print scene list


Character reports

Go to: Character>Reports

Tip! You don’t have to print out you can simply view.

Go to Character>Reports>Print Character list

Go to Character>Reports>Print Scenes per character

Go to Character>Reports>Print Character per tag

Location reports and Items reports: (as above)

Go to: Location>Reports and Items> Reports

Tip! You don’t have to print out you can simply view

How about Scene Notes? 

These won’t show up in some of the reports like Scene Description

SCENES. How do I…

add ‘notes’ to a scene?

Open the scene. Go to notes tab. Once you have added a note, on the scene list, the icon changes from SC to an N icon. [When you add the first scene to any chapter on the main screen, the icon in the chapter list changes from CH to I (contains Information).

add scenes to a chapter?

Click Scenes>Add multiple scenes' on the main screen and specify the number you want. There’s virtually no limit. 

change an unused scene to a used scene and vice versa?

Click scene>Toggle used/unused

change the scene order within a chapter?

1) Go to the scene list.  
2) Left-click on the scene and hold the button down.
3) Drag the cursor up or down to where you want the scene to be. Release the button.

combine scenes?

On the screen list on the Main screen select the scenes you want by pressing Ctrl+ the scene you want. Then press. Scene> Combine selected Scenes.

Copy and paste

complete the scene content page?

(1) Enter the scene title in the long, narrow text box below the viewpoint box.

(2) Below this you will find the description box. Enter a short summary of your scene (if you wish). This summary will form part of your auto-synopsis later. It is also used to generate Scene cards for printing. (If you plan to print scene cards keep your summary under about 40 words.)

create scenes for characters when they are not ‘on stage’

Create a character named character ‘Offstage’!

delete a scene from the Main Screen?

Go to Scene> Remove selected scene(s). 
Go to
Chapter>Remove selected chapter(s).

drag scenes from one chapter to another?

From the list of scenes, press down the left mouse button and drag the scene across to the chapter you want. Release mouse button. The scene will now appear as the last scene in this chapter and you can move it to where you want.

edit a scene?

From within yWriter, right click on the scene you want from the scene list on the main screen and select 'Open content with default RTF editor'.  When 
you're done, save the scene and close it, then right click again and select 
'Finished with external editor'. 

. enter a scene description?

(1) Double click to open a scene from the scene list. Enter information in the description box at the bottom of the page below scene title. Notice the ‘Next and ‘Previous’ tabs at the foot of the page so you can quickly write descriptions for all your scenes as you develop you storyline.
(2) On the main screen click
Scene>Create New Scene

find the scene description?

It is unnamed but easy to find. In the Scene editor window there is text box for the scene title, and below that is a text box for the scene description.

find a use for the Items tab for?

There are many possibilities. To keep track of ships’ movements.  Store clues & red herrings (numbered in the order they are going to be used.) Create lists of clothing, jewelry, etc. 

find the scene summaries?

Double click on the chapter title. A pop up box will appear with read only scene summaries. These are the same words that you have written in the bottom text box of the contents screen in the Scene editor window.

increase the space I want for ‘Scene description’ (bottom window in scene editor)

Move your cursor until just above ‘Viewpoint’. When it changes shape, press left mouse button and drag up.

insert a scene into the middle of a chapter?

If you're editing a scene and you click 'Edit' then 'Add Scene' it'll create one directly after the current scene. 'Insert Scene' creates one just before.

insert a new scene between two existing scenes?

(1) Create your new scene.  (2) In the Scene list, click and drag it to the proper spot.

make a certain scene its own chapter?

(1) Create a new chapter and move it to where you want it in the Chapter column on the left by clicking and dragging it to the correct spot in the list. 

(2)Then go to the chapter where the scene is (scene view) that you want to have its own chapter and left click on the scene and hold the button down. Drag the cursor to the chapter you want to put the scene in (the one you’ve just created). It's like moving files between folders on your computer. Release the button to drop the scene into the chapter.


Scene cards print from the scene description. There is no way to move all 
the notes automatically. 

move from or to any scene or chapter quickly in the Scene editor window?

Right at the top of the page you will see two drop-down menus 'Ch' (Chapter) and/or 'Sc' (Scene) which will take you where you want to go.

Go to:

move scenes into different chapters?

1) On the main project scene, left click on the scene you want to move and hold the button down. Drag the cursor to the Chapter in the Chapter list in which you want it to appear. Release the button. It will move to the end of those already present in that chapter. From there, move the scene to it correct position within the chapter.

2) If you prefer, you can drag and drop the scene in the StoryBoard feature.  You simply drag the scene to where you want it to go. 

open more than one scene at the same time?

Double-click an entry in the scene list on the main screen. You can't open the same scene window more than once though - if it's open already, double-clicking in the list will bring that scene window to the foreground.

open all the scene summaries in a chapter?

Double click on the chapter title

outline my scenes first and pull them into chapters afterward? 

You have to have at least one chapter to contain scenes. Suggestion: Mark a chapter as 'Other + Unused' and move it at the very bottom of the chapter list using it a place in which to dump various scenes.

read all scenes in a chapter in a continuous format?

 Select the chapter. In the main menu, click Chapter - Print Selected Chapter(s) .Click Yes The entire chapter will now open in your web browser, formatted and ready to read.  (You don’t have to actually print it out!)

review two scenes side by side?

Open a scene. Click the restore down button at the topmost right hand corner next to the delete button. Resize and drag page to left. Open another scene. Do same thing. You can now see them side by side... every

restore the contents of one scene?

(If you just want to restore the contents of one scene, rather than mend an entire project, use Tools - View Autobackups and just copy/paste the scene content from the relevant backup.)

set the status for any scene I want to complete?

Go to Edit selected scene> Details and Set the 'Status' by selecting 'Outline', 'Draft', '1st Edit', '2nd Edit' or 'Done' from the drop-down list.

Select one or more scenes in the Scene List on the main screen, right-click and setting the status.

Display the special list of all scenes in the project, selecting one, some or all of them, and setting the status there. Here’s this?

set a scene to one side without deleting?

This is where the Toggle used/unused device comes in so handy.

You may create scenes with good ideas but for which you can find no place at the moment. Put them in a ’slush’ pile – you may still want to use them.

Right click you mouse on any scene in the scene list and you will see that you can toggle scenes on or off. If a Scene is still part of your story, it begins with the icon SC. If you toggle it to unused, the SC changes to U [unused]

Some people create a chapter with the title UNUSED. When too many scenes fill up the scene list they move these into this chapter.

TIP! If you create a chapter called UNUSED and toggled as unused, if you move a scene into this chapter, yWriter will regard the scene as unused whether you have toggled the scene unused or not. If you drag a scene into an unused chapter which hasn’t been toggled unused, simply dragging a scene into a Chapter called Unused does not make the scene appear as unused.

"Previous" and "next" buttons will still move you into the scene/chapter despite it being unused   and you can still edit it if you want to. 

When you export or print, you have the option to include or exclude unused scenes and chapters.   

TIP! You will be reminded that a scene is unused because when you open it in the Scene editor the Description block at the bottom of the page has a bright orange/red background.

spell check a scene?

Right click the scene in the main window and open content with external RTF editor option.  Whichever editor is set as your default for .rtf files (Word,, or whatever you have installed) will open the scene.  Word counts won't be updated until you open and close the scene with 
the yWriter scene editor, so be aware of that. 

... transfer a scene from another novel I have written to this one?


update scene numbers automatically when I insert a new scene?


use Project notes?

The Project notes tab is on -- on the right hand side. It can be used or anything you like: (1) You can copy and paste tips in here to remind you how to take advantage of yWriter (2) For research information you need to find out (example: medication dosages, police procedures), (3) story telling ideas and tips, (4) Reminders (5) Anything you like.

use scene descriptions and scene details?

Scene description refers to the key events that take place in each chapter scene details are the actual words of your book 

use the scene editor’s "split on * * *" option? From the scene menu?

If you rework scenes, you need to know for what purpose a piece of text is there. If you can’t give a clear answer but don’t want to delete us this. It’s a toggle switch. If you don’t use it you can mark the section as "unused".

Better explanation needed. I toggled this and part of my text vanished but where did it go to. Thank heavens for Ctrl-Z the undo button 

use scene notes?

In the list of scenes, double-click the scene. When the scene 
opens, click the Notes tab.2. When viewing the list of scenes, click one and then look in the
 preview area below. Click the Scene Notes tab.
Scene > Print scene notes 

use the Help Button on the ‘Scene editor’ page?

When you click Help> Contents this takes you through to the Manual (HTML) This provides detailed information on the following (among other things): (1) Importing a work in progress (2) Importing an outline (3) Importing a single chapter (4) Adding a spell checker (5) Printing a work schedule (6) Backups (7) Restoring a damaged project (8) Running from a memory stick.

write scenes that are easy to work with?

It’s much easier to work with very short scenes of perhaps less than 200 words

Some of them aren’t really stand alone scenes. You can fix that with a simple checkbox on the scene details form: Append To Previous Scene. When you print chapters out, scenes with this item ticked are printed on the end of the previous scene, without breaks. (This is overridden if you choose to print all the scene details.) The 'append to previous scene' doesn't work across chapter breaks - you can't set it on the first scene in a chapter.

Help I’ve lost a scene!

Exit (WITHOUT SAVING!!) and re-upload the scene, which means you lose no more than 5 minutes of work, if that.  It helps to click ‘save’ a lot. (2) If that happens again, you should be able to CTL-z to get it back.  (sometimes multiple CTL-z's depending on how many keys you pressed).  If you undo too much, Ctl-y should put it back. 

How many words can you have in a scene?

At least 25 000

Under Settings>autobackupsandpunctuation, what does ‘create a text file mirror when saving scenes mean? And what is the tick box for?


When clicking the “next” button on the scene editing window, is the scene I’m exiting saved at that point?

It definitely saves. One writer says he never uses ‘Save’ only ‘save and exit’ or next/prev. 

 When I press the next button, will it open a new scene in the same chapter?

NO. If there's no existing scene in the current chapter, it goes to the 
next scene in the next chapter. If you're at the end of the novel and click Next, it goes back to the
 beginning of the novel.

When do you mark scenes as unused?

For those occasions where you want to make massive changes, but might want to go back to them without going to a backup. ????

What is an unused scene and how do I ‘use it’?

You could experiment with creating unused scenes containing your notes about the 'real' scenes.

What does ‘Mark known Scenes/Locations/items do?


What exactly is the theory behind Action/reaction scene?

In Chapter 4 Swain answers the question on how to build a story. 
Each scene, he says, will have a goal, conflict, and disaster. 
yWriter refers to this as Action: goal, conflict, outcome.  Swain says 
that a scene is followed by a sequel which is reaction (to the 
disaster), dilemma, and decision.  yWriter refers to this as Reaction: 
reaction, dilemma, decision.  For Swain, the sequel turns the disaster 
of one scene into a goal for the next scene.  He suggests that a scene 
will be at least four pages long with the sequel's length somewhere 
between a paragraph and a page." 


create a work timeline/schedule for outlining scenes?

A modern novel contains between 80 000 – 125 000 words at about 250 words per page, as much as 40 ‘scenes’ and many more ‘beats’ depending on your definitions. You could create a chapter called ‘Time line’ and then create a scene for each day of writing. THIS DEADLINE SECTION NEEDS MORE WORK Project>Project settings

establish my daily word count target

Fore a very clear explanation go to

know how many words have been written?

At the bottom of the scene editor page you get the following information: Chapter title (number): Words in all scenes; Number of words in this scene

RTF number

track my daily word count so I know how many words I've written each session? 

At the bottom left of the main screen you can see the total number of words in your novel and the total number of words added that day;

At the bottom of each scene window, you can find out how many words you have written for that scene.

If you really want to track it properly, at the end of each session put the total word count in a spreadsheet.  Then you can calculate the words added in each session, average them if you like, make pretty graphs, or whatever suits your fancy.


add new scenes on the Storyboard?

Temporary workaround - you can always edit a scene then click the Scene menu in the editor and Add/Insert.

change the increase the font size and reduce the size of the ‘post-it notes so I can see more of the book at one go?


get the colour-coded bars as in the sample


use this?


print the Storyboard? 

Right-click any of the scene cards and choose 'Print Storyboard

make the most the StoryBoard, with its scene title and description?

Do the following in the Scene editor window.

Type a short scene title (less than +-15 words) IN CAPITALS.

Then continue with the scene title on the same line in upper and lower case (a mini-thesis!)



Mini thesis: He meets his old girlfriend, hears she has been given a geological map which will lead to the treasure, but the treasure is in a war-torn zone. Questions: What will his wife say when she finds out he is seeing her again? What does he do?

Description: Continue with your detailed description in the box at the foot of the page.

Tip! Type out the above and see what this looks like in StoryBoard


What is TAG and how do I use it?

(1) There is a tag attribute in the character definition that you can use as a grouping label, with a report under Characters that prints them by tag. For example you could tag a bunch of characters 'antagonist', then filtering on 'anta' would only show all your antagonists. Ditto for members of a family, etc. 

(2) At the moment you can filter character/item/location filtering on tags. Therefore you could tag scenes in which ‘a secret weapon’ is mentioned, or possibly seasons, the wine cellar, what have you.

(3) Under the Scenes menu there's an option to 'Print scenes per tag'.   Some people use that for things like tracking subplots.  You can also enter tags for characters, locations, and items, and there's a similar print option for each. 

How do I tag a scene?

Go to Scene editor> Details tab.

What purpose do tags serve?

To filter the currently visible elements.

To keep track of themes in subplots[?]

Characters could have tags like ‘sidekick’ or ‘mentor’; or catholic and protestant.

How do you view tags?

In the edit mode off the individual character/location/item?


change the RTF file name for a scene, and why would I want to do this?

Technical answer needed

find a lost file?

Go to your yWriter\autobackups folder and select the subfolder 
with today’s date eg E:\YWriter\Autobackups\2010-04-06, then check the file and see if you can find it

number my pages?

There is no page numbering in yWriter

. recover a deleted file?

When attempting to recover deleted files it's VITAL not to copy anything else onto the hard disk containing the deleted data. If you do, it'll probably overwrite the info you're trying to recover. (If you deleted the folder and then defragged it's possible Windows has already put data on top of the backups but I'd try every single file in case one of them is still all right.) 

recover corrupted documents?

First, a couple of DO NOTS: 

I. If you open a project and find that it's become corrupted, close yWriter and DO NOT try opening the project again until you go through the steps below! 

II. If you have a corrupted project, DO NOT try to open one of the .yw5 backup files in the backup directories.  It won't work, and it will complicate your recovery. 


1) Close yWriter. 2) Find and make a safe copy of your log.txt file so that you can send it to Simon if he needs it.  On a Windows XP system, it will be in (drive letter):\Documents and Settings\ (your user name)\Application Data\Spacejock 
Software\yWriter5.  On Vista or Win 7, it will be in (drive
letter):\Users\(your user name)\AppData\Roaming\Spacejock Software\yWriter5. You may want to look at it in a text editor to see if you see an obvious reason for your project file becoming corrupted.  (For example, if someone accidentally deleted or renamed your RTF5 folder in your project, it will
recreate the folder with nothing in it, and there would probably be a log entry for that.)

3) Before doing anything else, make a safe copy of your project folder and all of its contents.  You don't want to make any changes to the copy, just keep it so you have something you can copy back in and start over with if your first recovery attempt is unsuccessful. 

4) Open your project folder and see what's in it.  There should be 5 folders and 2 files.  The folders are Autobackups, Export, Images, Logs, and RTF5. The files should be (your project name).yw5 and (your project name).yw5.bak .If there's a .lock file, it means that yWriter either has the project open 
or that it crashed while the project was open.  In a recovery situation withy Writer shut down, it shouldn't be there.  Make absolutely certain that yWriter isn't running (check for the yWriter5.exe task in Task Manager if necessary), and then delete the file.  If you have a missing or incorrectly
named folder, you can correct the problem.  Make sure you understand why the corruption happened before you open the project in yWriter, so that you don’t just recreate the problem.

5) If there's nothing obviously wrong in the project structure, compare your.yw5 to your .yw5.bak file.  The .bak is a copy of the .yw5 from before the last time you opened it.  If you've only opened your project once (see DO NOT I), the .bak may be good, if your project became corrupt when you opened 
it.  Often when a project becomes corrupted, you'll see a .yw5 file that's 2
 KB in size (like a new, empty project) and a .bak file that still contains all your project data from before the corruption.  If that's the case, you can recover the project simply by renaming, moving, or deleting the corrupt 
.yw5 file and replacing it with a copy of the good .bak file.  Before you
 open it, you still need to determine why yWriter corrupted it (for example, the beta that created an incompatibility in any .yw5 files it saved), but at least you have your project back.6) If the .bak file is corrupt, the next step is to find the most recent good .yw5 file in the Autobackups folder.  The names of the folders under the Autobackups folder are dates.  Start with the most recent.  There should 
be a file in it named (your project name)  If there isn't,
 it means you didn't open the project on that day.  If not, look for a file named Full Backup of (your project name).zip.  If there isn't one of those, 
either, you'll need to work back through the dated directories until you come to either a yw5_Latest or a Full Backup.  Once you find one, drill down through the directory structure in the zip until you reach the .yw5 file. Extract it and you should have a good project file again.  WARNING: Any
changes you made other than scene contents after the time this backup was made will be lost.  Contents of new scenes can be recovered by opening their RTF files and copying out the contents, but anything else is lost.  This is why that .bak file is so important, because it normally is up to date as of
the last time you closed the project.

If you experienced a yWriter corruption/loss you can try running earlier and earlier Restores, until you find the last good (uncorrupted) project. Experience says that this will normally be only as far back as copy -1 or -2. Ok, so you've lost some creative genius, but probably only a small percentage of that Pulitzer Prize novel. 

recover lost stuff. Help!

There’s also the autobackups folder. When you load a project each day the yw5 file is zipped automatically into two different files - partial and complete autobackups. Just extract files, working backwards through the dates until you find one which is working. 
Most times the problem is shutting down Windows while yWriter is still loaded & running, and while yWriter will try to save the project when this happens, Windows won't hang around and wait for the disk writes to finish. (Thus wrecking the yw5 file) Don't forget you can mix and match .yw5 and RTF files.  E.g. all your work will be in the autobackups folder - the scene content rtf files are saved out every 5 mines while you're working on them. The only things you can lose are notes, scene descriptions, etc, and if you're paranoid like me you can click tools - backups - backup entire project whenever you feel like it. 

restore a project from autobackups

This is the recommended method of restoring a project from an Autobackup. It assumes the yw5 file is corrupted or damaged in some way, but all the rtf (scene) files in your project\RTF5 folder are intact and are the latest versions. 

To restore a project you would do the following: 

Using Explorer, open the folder containing your yWriter5 project 
Open the Autobackups folder
Open the most recent folder, by date
Open the file 'Full Backup of ... (project name)' (it's a zip file)
Extract the contents to a new folder, called 'yw5restore'
(You must extract contents with the folder structure intact)
Now return to the folder containing your yWriter5 project
Open the RTF5 folder, which contains all the current scene content files
Copy (do NOT move) all the RTF files into the yw5restore\RTF5 folder
(Be sure to overwrite all destination files - these are older versions from the autobackup)

Now double-click the YW5 file in the yw5restore folder to open the copy of your project. 

If all is okay, exit yWriter and rename your OLD project folder to (project folder).old 
Then rename 'yw5restore' to (project folder)

restore the font bar in the scene editor window?

In the scene editor window on the content page you can show or hide the font bar that has B I U S (Bold, Italics, Underline, Strikethrough) and the highlight colour? In the Scene editor go to Settings>Hide font bar which is a toggle switch.

save my project under another name when there is no “Save as..." option? 

In yWriter, Tools/Backups/Backup Entire Project, then Tools/Backups/Restore 
Autobackup and restore to a new folder.

Open the folder that contains your project folder with Windows Explorer and 
make a copy of the project folder and all its contents.

Use archive or backup software to make copies of your project folder and its 

save the work I have done into a new version and retain the original in case the new stuff doesn’t work?

 Make a copy of your project folder and all its contents.  You then have a copy to work with and a copy to keep. Make sure you shut yWriter down before you make the copy, and don't get the two versions mixed up (grin).

Break your writing into lots of smaller and smaller scenes. It's so much easier to work on a small chunk than a 5000 word slab.  
If you click on the details tab in the scene editor you’ll find a checkbox with 'append to previous scene'. If that's ticked, for printing and exporting purposes only the ticked scene(s) and the first un-ticked scene and the previous one will be treated as one unit. (So if you want to print out or export three scenes you tick the second and third scene, etc. You may want to untick this box when you have finished printing or exporting.

Conflict between characters 1 & 2 could be 
highlighted in red, while the resolution of Characters 3 & 4 could be 
blued. Any reference to Character 2 & 4 could be yellowed, etc. 
I can't even get the Characters names, locations, etc to be 
highlighted, as you can do in scene content. 

synchronise my files across a PC notebook and laptop?


transfer from my desktop to my laptop?

The folder that contains the .yw5 file for your project 
also contains all the sub-folders and data.  Copy that folder and all its
contents, including its sub-folders and their contents, and you're set. (If
 you follow the recommended practice of one project per folder it works well.) Just don't forget to copy it back before going back to the other machine, or….!! . 

turn on and off ‘customizable columns’ in the chapter browser. e.g. being able to turn on/off columns such as W, S, P, or Desc?

Just drag those column header widths to zero, and the program will remember.

Every time I add a new item/location, I get two error messages

Try this: * Clicking the Items or Locations menu and then clicking Add new 
* Clicking the Scene tab, then clicking the Locations/Items tab in the
bottom panel, right-clicking and then choosing Add New
* Clicking Items or Locations menu, clicking View/Edit, and clicking
the Add New icon.

When clicking the “next” button on the scene editing window, is the scene I’m exiting saved at that point?

It definitely saves. One writer says he never uses ‘Save’ only ‘save and exit’ or next/prev. 

Can yWriter tell me how many pages there are in (a) a particular scene
(b) a particular chapter?

Yes, Go to Reports>Synopsis>Full Synopsis

What is Ctrl-Z

 The undo (ctrl-z) works in a particular way: every X seconds, when there hasn't been a keypress for y seconds, the program takes a snapshot. When you undo, you go back to the previous snapshot. If it isn't what you want (too much missing), press ctrl-y (redo)


view my entire novel in an unbroken format?. 

You have to export it to RTF and open it in a word processing program like 
MS Word or OpenOffice Writer. Go to Project, and export selected chapter(s) to RTF


begin to understand ‘ Viewpoint’ (POV) when writing my novel?

It’s actually quite simple. If you are writing about how you strangled a crocodile, this story is told from your (protagonist) point of view. If, on the other hand, you saw someone else do it then the story would be told from your (bystander’s) point of view.

If you describe a love scene, do you want to ‘get into the woman’s head’ and express her emotions? Or maybe there is a hell of an argument and you want to express anger from two points of view. Or you can even have a character called ‘omniscient’ and be like a play writer juggling characters on stage

change the viewpoint character in the Scene editor window?

Open a scene. Near the bottom of the page above Scene Title you will find Viewpoint. Use drop down box to find the person you want

 …create a scene without a Viewpoint character?

When you create a scene, the viewpoint character defaults to the first 
character in your character list.  If you want it to default to Unnamed, 
create a major character 'Unnamed', then in Characters> View/Edit, drag 
Unnamed to the top of the list.  New scenes will now default to Unnamed as 
the viewpoint character. 

know which is the viewpoint character in a scene?

If there are multiple characters in the left-hand list, the first listed will be the viewpoint character. This is indicated by the darker character icon. To promote a different character to viewpoint, simply right-click any other character in the left-hand list and click 'Set as viewpoint'.  You can also change the viewpoint character on the Content tab.

set a viewpoint character?

To set a viewpoint character for a scene, double click on the scene you want from the scene list. Near the bottom you will find the word Viewpoint. Type in the pov’s name. Or, if you like, not applicable.


change a folder name to match the title when it is changed? 

You can simply rename your folder that holds the yWriter folders.  You can rename your .yw5 file.  You can do both.
On the main yWriter screen (where all the chapters are listed) you can change the project title by going to Project>Project Settings
(3) You can change the folder name from Windows.  Just make sure you don't have the project open in yWriter at the time.  The main potential drawback is if you need to restore your project from a backup made before you changed the  name, the restored version will have the old name. You can rename the project file from Windows, too, save caveats.

change the order of the columns on the right side of the Main Screen?

The standard view is Viewpoint – words – Scene – Status – A/R – Filename – letters – characters – locations—items date/time.

You can change this by dragging on the header and moving it left or right. One experienced used preferred this layout: 
Viewpoint, Scene, Status, Filename, Words, Letters, Characters, Locations, 
Date/Time, Items, A/R. 

enlarge a font?

There's a desktop setting which will increase the font size in all your applications by 25%, and the good news is that it's OFF by default! 

The following instructions are for Windows XP. They're similar on Win 98, but I don't have that running to tell you the exact steps. 

Right click your desktop 
Choose Properties
Click the Settings tab
Click the Advanced button
Now, change 'Normal Size (96dpi)' to 'Large Size (120dpi)' and apply
It'll tell you to reboot - don't just yet

(Note - this next bit is XP only) 
Go to the Appearance tab (same form as Settings, one to the left)
Click the Effects button
Tick 'Use the following method to smooth the edges of screen fonts'
Select Cleartype
Click OK

Now you can close the original dialog and reboot. If you don't like the changes you can simply reverse the instructions above and reboot again. 

Note that some poorly-written applications might exhibit graphics glitches. E.g. in Microsoft Word 97 some of the program settings dialogue is obscured. 

enter information on the Contents page fast

Enter a few words on the one, hit the ‘next’ button, enter words on the next scene, etc. When finished, Save and exit. These words will be saved on ALL scenes without you having to tell yWriter to save! Flipping marvellous. Works for the description part too beneath the scene title.

find out how many words I have written today?

(1) At the bottom of the Main Screen. 

(2) Also on the Main Screen go to Tools>Daily Word Count Target. 

find Shortcut keys?:

Menu options can all be selected the Windows way - for your Print>Chapter 
Descriptions for example, press Alt, C, Enter, P, P, Enter.  Or, instead of the 
letters, you can use the keypad arrows to move through the menu options. 

get my imagination going?

Try this. Go to the website and copy and paste scenes of places, people, towns, situations, in Scene Notes and then write about them. istockphoto has photos you can use.

keep track of various drafts if you mostly have been using the program to write and edit ?

 Export to .RTF after each draft is complete, so you have a backup copy.

. make use of the keyboard?

Shot cut keys. Anything special tips?

save all scenes for a new project?

Use Project> Export Selected Chapters. More explanation needed?

synchronize stuff between my computer at home an my laptop?

Some people recommend Allway Sync (a free program). It tells which are the two locations that it needs to compare. It adds a folder to each location that allows it to keep its data in to know which is the latest version. You can also set it to replicate file deletions or not. 

transfer my existing yWriter5 to my memory stick?

Open Windows Explorer or equivalent. (2) Find the folder that contains your project's .yw5. (3) Drag and drop the folder, including all contents, to your memory stick. 

... use the ‘calendar’ on the Details page tab in Scene editor?

You can either choose the specific time and date or show the day hour minute the scene begins using the toggle sw.

You can also record exactly how long this scene lasts.

TIP! In terms of your timeline, set a start date, work out how long the event (boat trip from UK to USA will take), then slot in the number of days.

use the Daily Progress Log?

Click on Tools>Daily progress log. This is a useful reminder of how much you are writing each day – and the progressive totals.

use yWriter with Storybook?

Storybook is another very useful free ‘Open Source tool for writers. See It has a good storyboarding feature but because the one story board scrolls horizontally (yWriter) and the other vertically, there are a few hurdles. 

work on more than one book. How do I handle this in yWriter?

When you need another project open, just start another copy of yWriter, and open that project in it.

What do you use project notes for?

Possibilities: To collect data from the Internet (for example, what happened in a particular year): to store ideas I may have for sequels. 

Where shall I place any citations?

You could put citations in the scene description; or
(2) or create a new scene just
 for citations. 

When should I use the right mouse key?

On the Main Screen you can use the right mouse key to do a number of different things in both the right and left panels.

In Scene editor window you can use the right mouse key for cutting, pasting, moving things around, looking up words, etc

Are unused scenes and chapters included in the word count?

No. You can tell this by watching your word count in the bottom right hand corner?

WORDS How do I…

add a dictionary?

For further details go to:

find a particular word have written in the scene?

Try global search and replace 

use Search>Find problem words? What’s it for?

Answer needed. If limited to 30 words please say.

How does the word count work?

Go to

Also note:

Daily Word Count Target – Click the Update button and the Starting Count is automatically filled in with the Number of Words in Project now. When you click in a date field, a dialog appears that allows you to either enter the date or choose from a calendar. You can click on the date you want, or if you look at the very bottom of the calendar, you'll see Today. Click that if you want Today's date.


. add characters, locations or items to a scene?

Click, drag and drop the desired object from the 'All Characters/Locations/Items' list (right hand side of Scene editor page to the 'In this scene' (on the left)

add a description?

The scene list shows you your scenes. On the bottom half of this page is the tab ‘Description’. Write a description here in about ten words or less.

change the font and size across all scenes?

With no scene open, on the main screen, go to Scene>Set font across all scenes. 

change the order of the tabs (Content /details/ character etc) if I want to?


change the title of my novel?. 

The title is in two places: 

The name of the .yw5 file by You can change the .yw5 file…. 
(2) The project title displayed at the top of the main screen.

You can change one without changing the other, but to avoid confusion, you probably want to change both.   And loading them by double-clicking will work fine???. 

Just don't rename the rtf files in the RTF5 folders. 

choose a dictionary to use with yWriter?

A highly recommended FREE one is available at But by right clicking in a scene you can Google a dictionary or thesaurus. 

. copy from a Word document into yWriter?

Copy and paste

develop a ‘top level’ synopsis showing the plot trajectory ( big conflicts, confrontations, battles and setback) before  sketching out scenes, characters, places and the timeline?

This is the top down approach.  The ‘written synopsis’ in yWriter includes the Project Title + Description. If you go to Project>Project Settings there is space for you to write down your big ideas, theme and how it plays itself out. You could do this at a fairly abstract level. Many people, while having a theme at the back of their minds, prefer to work with specifics.

edit a scene

Chapters and Scenes (respectively) are in the menu bar. Right click the scene description and choose Edit selected scene . Double click on the scene you want in the scene list. The icon next to the open scene will change from  to  to indicate the scene is being edited.

edit character, item or location details?

Double click on the appropriate item in the scene editor window. When you save your changes, the object's details will be updated on the main screen and in every open scene editor window.

edit a yWriter document?

The same way you would edit anywhere else. The benefit of using yWriter's editor is that you can specify autobackups to time stamped files at 60 second (or higher) intervals, and they're stored by date forever. Word, OO and others don’t do this. 

Copy and paste scene into Word, make all the changes you like there, and copy & paste back. This is somewhat safer way of ensuring you have al the formatting you want but a bit more of a hassle. 

get a full empty page to write on in yWriter?

Have you tried the full screen editor that's already there?  Right click in 
the text in the scene editor and toggle it on.  You still have the scene 
description and title at the bottom, but not much else.

TIP! If you want to use keyboard shortcuts: Shift-F10, F, Enter. (Or if you want margins: Shift-F10, F, F, Enter.) 

Comment: When I did tried this I got the full empty page which was great but then couldn’t work out how to “restore the normal page settings since there was absolutely nothing else. Absolutely nothing. All the stuff at the bottom had vanished. Help!

import character (from an .xml file) in yWriter5?

Project/Import into current project/Characters.


To use tabs, go to the ‘scene editor’ and then settings and click on ‘Allow TAB in editor window.

Also Set Paragraph Indent, which is directly above the Allow TAB in editor window

keep an ideas file?

On the main screen, you could use Project Notes.

store my planning ideas

Try this. (1) Have one chapter called ‘Planning stuff’. (2) Then have a scene for the three periods: (a) Beginning, (b) Middle and (c) End. You can decide how many scenes you want in each.

make use of keyboard shortcuts, perhaps by holding down the Shift or Control keys?

Go to Scene>Help>Keyboard shortcuts

.make changes to my settings?

The recommended method is to make changes to your settings (e.g. editor window size) on a single open window, then click 'Save and Exit'. 

set line spacing in the text editor?  

Ctrl + 1 = single spacing; Ctrl + 2 = double spacing 
Ctrl + 5 = 1, 5 spacing 

Note: When printing out the line spacing goes back to single when 
printing from yWriter, no matter how it looks when you send to print.
But you can avoid the problem by
opening in the rtf editor and printing from there How?

use the right mouse key on the contents page of the scene editor window and what happens?

Cut, copy, paste is self-explanatory.

Cut selection as scene titles’: Any words you put your cursor over will automatically be transferred to Scene title’

Cut selection for scene description’: Any words you put your cursor over will automatically be transferred to Scene title’

Add selection to custom dictionary’: ?????

Create character/location/item from selection’: Will add a character/item/location respectively

Insert link: Opens up your word (and other

Dictionary and Thesaurus lookup: Highlight a word of text and right click to get the answer

Set editor font colour

Set editor background colour

Full screen text editor

Full screen editor with margins

Tiled editor windows

TIP! Try this. Open the main screen which is the screen yWriter opens up with. Right click in an empty space on the left side of the screen and notice how you can quickly create or edit a CHAPTER (among other things). Now click on the right hand scene list and see how you can quickly create or edit a SCENE (among other things).

use the scene editor window?

Open it up. Go to the Quickstart guide 8 at!!

use the various types of notes?

For whatever you like! Some people use “Project Notes" on the main screen. Some use ‘Scene notes’ for things like "give character X's motivation more thought."  

What is the difference between View/Edit and Edit?

On the main page navigation bar, View/Edit lets you make changes to Character, Location, Items within scenes. Once a scene is open Edit lets you navigate swiftly and complete a number of editing tasks within the Content page.

What spell checker should I use? 

There are external applications that work very well with yWriter and other  Windows applications.  The one that I use and strongly recommend is WordWeb, which is available at  Its dictionary and thesaurus  features are quite good. and the free version meets my needs.  I even use it  with MS-Word sometimes, since it gives me definitions as well as a list of  possible spellings. 

What does the synopsis for each chapter at the bottom of the Main screen comprise?

The Chapter Title plus the Scene Descriptions.

Please provide more details on the export synopsis function(for the layman?


Does F7 the spell check work in yWriter5?


Can I do my editing in MS Word?

On the Screen List on the main menu right click and ‘Open content with default RTF editor. (The only thing is to set the default RTF editor you want to use in Windows Preferences. How?)

You do not have to export anything to do your writing or editing.  You simply save the RTF in Word and close it and then right click on the scene and 'close the external editor' and everything is updated in yWriter.

I can’t spell. Help!

There are external applications that work very well with yWriter and other 
Windows applications.  The one that I use and strongly recommend is WordWeb, which is available at  Its dictionary and thesaurus features are quite good. and the free version meets my needs. Did you notice the Replace button in the lower right?  Saves the 
ctrl-c/ctrl-v two-step.

I have a lot of editing to do. The first draft was written in Word. Can I edit in Word? 

On the main project screen, if you right click on a scene, there's an option "Open content with default RTF editor".  If you have Word installed, that should open the scene in Word.  When you're done editing, save it in Word and close the scene in Word. Then – important - right click the scene again, and select "Finished with external editor". This will clear the yWriter lock on the scene.  Note that the word count won't update until you open and save the scene with yWriter's internal editor. Note: it may be necessary to open this again in yWriter and save it again for the main screen to update with new word count. 

When I open an rtf doc through yWriter using the "open in rtf 
editor" menu, it opens in Wordpad . Help!

Open a yWriter RTF folder 
2. Click on menu item tools then folder options 
3. Select the File Types tab 
4. Scroll down to RTF File 
5. Click on RTF file and check to see if it is set to open with Word or 

I edit multiple scenes at the same time?

(1) To open any scene, double click on the scene itself.
(2) Resize
(3) Open another scene and
put the scenes side by side. Edit. 

How do you write?

The way I approach the problem is I use a series of CAR outlines: 
Conflict - Action - Result, starting with a "widescreen" concept of
"What is the book about?" like "Young farm boy becomes an orphan for
the second time (conflict), mixed in with interstellar rebels
(action), and becomes a galactic hero (resolution)".

My big CAR goes into project notes, as do copies of the smaller CARs - 
I then create a chapter for each of the smaller CARs and put the
smaller CARs into their respective chapter descriptions so that I can
see (at a glance) what I have planned for that chapter in the
description box below the chapter lists.

I also create an 'unused' scene in each chapter where I write down 
some rough notes specific to a chapter and don't want to clutter up my
'project notes' or have them hidden in different scene notes, as well
as put an unused 'chum' chapter at the end of my book for writing
that, while it may not have worked well with chapter x might serve
well to be recycled for chapter y.

In the scene-editing window, I keep running out of space. What do I do?

Enlarge the screen by pressing icon at top right hand corner.
Reduce the size of the fonts

Right-click in the scene content and select either Full screen text editor 
or Full screen editor with margins. Note: When I do this, everything else disappears even the close, minimize etc buttons. The only way I can shut down is to press ctrl+alt+ delete together and end tasks for various things. There must be a better way. Note I have just discovered I must grab the bottom of the page and move up to reveal stuff!! NB I believe you can use Shift-F10, F, Enter. 

Or if you want margins:  Shift-F10, F, F, Enter. But now that you have the full screen how do you save and get back to where you were? 

What is the safest way to edit?

If you really distrust the scene editor, you can always right click the scene in the list, then Open content with default RTF editor.  This will start whatever word processor you have installed that's registered as the 
Windows default for RTF files.  After you close the scene, right click again
 and choose Finished with external editor.