With Nanowrimo coming to a close soon, I'd like to point out a great program I use for turning a novel into a beautiful pdf. LyX
is a free-to-download, multi-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) typesetting word processing program. I love, love, love it for novel writing for a few reasons:The Pros:1.
It typesets gorgeous
pdf files. This is because its a word-processor built over a LaTeX base - but don't worry, you don't actually have to know LaTeX language to get results - you can use the basic code at the end of this post. Though if you do want to, you can customize it in millions of ways to get beautiful output (there's tons of guides on LaTeX online so just google what you want to do and you can probably find out how in the first few search hits).2.
It has a convenient outline feature so I can always see which chapters are finished and which scenes still need written and can navigate to them with a single click.3.
It saves your cursor position when you close the file and takes you right back to the same place when you next open it up! This sounds minor but when you've got 100k+ words plus extra chapter outlines, it saves time and if you've loaded the program to try and pin down a sudden spark of inspiration, those are a valuable few seconds you don't have to spend scrolling to the part you're working on atm.4.
It doesn't lag on autosave, even for very, very large files. If you've ever worked on a 25+ chapter story in Word, Open Office, or LibreOffice, you may have noticed that it autosaves without warning and if you're not watching the screen, you may be halfway along the next line while it's still hanging to save your work and it may or may not catch up and add what you've typed in that time when it finishes. LyX doesn't have that problem, thank goodness.5.
You can easily insert your cover as the first page of the pdf. Just save the cover as a pdf page using a program like GIMP and then with the cursor at the top of your document, go to the Insert menu, select File, then External Material. In the pulldown menu under Template, select PDF Pages, then click the Browse button and navigate to your cover pdf. Lastly, click the LaTeX and LyX Options tab and then uncheck the box next to Show In LyX. Click OK and it's done. (The process for inserting illustrations is very similar - put your cursor where you want the illustration and use Insert > Graphics). The Cons:1.
You need diskspace for the install. You need not only LyX but a LaTeX install as well (there's a Windows installer bundle with both parts, just look for the one that says it includes MikTek). Compared to Microsoft's Office Suite or a full Photoshop install, it's not outrageously huge, but it's no lightweight like Abiword so just something to be aware of.2.
There's a bit of a learning curve. It will take some time to get used to the quirks of LyX - probably figure that it will take about as much time to learn to do the basics on LyX as it did for you to learn to be a Moderate-to-Advanced Microsoft Word user. It's taken me about 9 months to get up to speed with LyX to the point that I can customize a lot of the pure LaTeX stuff with a little help from the internet. Personally, I think the results are worth it, but YMMV.3.
LaTeX, which LyX is built on, is designed to tell you in programmer-speak what went wrong when it fails to compile a document (into a PDF or an RTF, usually) so you will probably get a scary error message at least a couple of times. In LyX, this pretty much always refers to something in a red L-box or in the preamble (because that's the only custom coding there is to screw up). Fiddle with whatever you've changed since compiling worked correctly and by process of elimination, you should be able to get it working again.4.
Copy-pasting from LyX into Word or into Rich Text fic submission can cause weird formatting. If you're writing for those media rather than PDF, don't use the red L-Boxes and don't customize in the preamble. Just use Memoir class as is, then export to RTF which will open in Word.
Overall, I think the Pros outweigh the Cons. If you agree, give it a try. Here's a guide to get your started:( Step-by-step to noveling in LyX (behind this cut)... )