I'm looking for a simple editor to start getting into world building and story writing which is working out fine in Microsoft Word. However, I'm finding it difficult to continue without any structure. So after some looking on Reddit and other world building fora for better editors. I like the structure which editors like cherrytree and OneNote provides with the nested notes (tree like strucure).

However I dislike the text editor part.

What I want:

  • rich text support (custom fonts, fonts sizes, ...)
  • Word, Notepad, ...-like simple text editor

Things I would like:

  • non-browser based
  • single save file
  • collaboration support

Things I don't want:

  • required account

Are there any editors like this?

Software I tried:

  • most wiki editors (like wikipad)
  • Microsoft Word
  • OneNote
  • Google Keep
  • Evernote
  • Cherrytree

Extra explanation for tree like structure (by example):

  • empire 1.txt
    • place in empire 1.txt
    • ...
  • magic.txt
    • spells.txt
      • freezespell.txt
  • Collaboration and non-browser-based seem contradictory. For that matter, not requiring an account and collaboration are definitely contradictory because without account authentication, anyone could modify your documents. While we are at it, the single save file feature that you want and the tree-like structure in your example also contradict each other. I use OneNote on my desktop (older version with no online account needed). I don't get collaboration but everything else on your list is in there. But It does take a while to learn all its feature. Apr 10, 2018 at 16:09
  • @HenryTaylor there are many collaboration tools, like git, google drive, what i meant is that the editor itself doesn't require an account and that it is easy to share the file(s) with others Apr 10, 2018 at 16:12
  • 1
    So a combination of tools would be acceptable. If that is the case, I would use an older desktop version of OneNote to create your tree-ed document and then collaborate using one of the web-based tools you mentioned. You can publish your tree-ed documents as PDF or XPS if your collaborators don't have your edition of OneNote, but they would then need special tools to edit those documents as well. Apr 10, 2018 at 16:13

3 Answers 3


Give Scrivener a try.

It’s designed for long-form writing, such as novels, screenplays and dissertations.

Each Scrivener file contains multiple documents: the stuff you write and other files you add (like PDFs or JPEGs) for research material.

The Scrivener file uses a hierarchal structure and to organise material stored in it - both folders and files can have sub-folders and files stored under them.

It’s also relatively cheap for specialised software, and has Windows, Mac OS and iOS versions. There are also trial versions available.

While Scrivener doesn’t have collaboration support, it has Dropbox support, so you can save the file in a shared Dropbox folder to allow other people with Scrivener access to it. That should do the trick, so long as two people don’t open the file at the same time, and use the revisions option to show when someone has changed something.

EDIT: I remembered there was an Scrivener template for RPGs. There’s a link to it in this article, which is part review of Scrivener and part guide to using it for developing an RPG campaign.

EDIT 2: Scrivener’s developer also does a mind-mapping tool called Scapple. So far it doesn’t integrate directly with Scrivener. (Which would be awesome.)

  • Scrivener is a bit pricey, but it is very polished. It can have quite a steep learning curve, however.
    – user18397
    Apr 10, 2018 at 22:28
  • @Thomo The learning curve is steep. But I’ve been using Scrivener for a few years, and I likely still don’t use 75% of its features, but I still find it does a great job for writing screenplays and wish other word processors had some of its features. Apr 11, 2018 at 23:36
  • 1
    It's great for what it does, absolutely. I use it myself and love it (even though I still don't understand it all) - just wanted to point out to the OP that there is a lot of functionality, and a lot to learn so they're not going in with their eyes shut and getting frustrated too early.
    – user18397
    Apr 12, 2018 at 3:03
  • 1
    Upvoted, Scrivener is awesome. You're right, the learning curve is steep but worth it. I don't think it's pricey for such accomplished software, $45 compared to $170 for Word. Also, try to get help when you're stuck on Word or hit a bug. When you're stuck with Scrivener the developer himself steps in and the forum is incredible. Also, you keep all your research, notes, worlds, characters, images, everything you need all in one place instead of trying to transition between apps when you come to write the novel. Wouldn't be without it. My productivity has gone through the roof with it.
    – GGx
    Apr 12, 2018 at 16:59

Based on the answers, specifically this answer to the question What software is available for keeping and organising notes about your world? on our sister site WorldBuilding.SE I would recommend checking out Realm Works as you say you have already tried different wiki solutions.

Realm Works is designed to be used for WorldBuilding in the context of an RPG. You can check out most of the functionality in this video on YouTube that is also linked on their main site. You can see more videos here.

Realm Works allows you to create maps, characters, relationships, add pictures, videos, ... and arrange everything in easy-to-manage chunks that could be used to reveal stuff to players. It allows you to jump between the different aspects of the world you are building.

Biggest downside: there is no testversion and it costs 50$.

Players could purchase a version for 10$ or less (depending on the amount of people) to have a look-at-my-GM's-world-only version.

  • +1 Very cool world building tool. A little pricey and I will have to research if the ongoing cloud features are required or if I can keep using it as a standalone world development tool without paying the monthly fee. Thanks! Apr 10, 2018 at 16:21

Sorry for not being as in-depth with my answer as the others are, but X-Mind is designed for this stuff. Just click X-Mind 8 Pro at the top and click download - again, at the top - to get the free version, and no, it's not a trial, they just want you to think you need to pay for it.

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