Writing a novel with markdown… and git

Chris Rosser
4 min readNov 4, 2022
Photo by Roman Synkevych on Unsplash

I know… 🤯 but bear with me. In my day job as a technical writer, I’ve written docs as code exclusively for 10 years. The reason is simple: the methodology is more efficient, durable and flexible. I reap enormous productivity benefits when my work is under revision control in a format that’s indestructible and easy to manipulate and publish.

Yet, for several reasons — mostly thanks to my entrenched use of Scrivener — I’ve always thought that writing fiction as code was unnecessary and perhaps even detrimental to the creative process. However, adopting these practices and tools can yield all the benefits I enjoy as a technical writer, namely:

  • No vendor lock-in thanks to an open format (plain text).
  • Use any text editor I want, be it proprietary or open-source.
  • Change tools during the project lifecycle, using whatever best suits what I’m doing, for example, draft in Ulysses, and edit in VS Code.
  • Harness the power of command-line utilities and scripting languages to automate the editorial and publishing process.
  • Commit, branch, diff/compare, and store my project in a secure, private GitHub repository.

These are pretty nerdy benefits, and your average fiction writer might struggle to see a usable workflow that mirrors what a…



Chris Rosser

Technical writer and occasional author sharing thoughts on creativity, productivity and technology. Works at Canva. https://chrisrosser.substack.com