XML::Grammar::Fiction - CPAN distribution implementing an XML grammar and a lightweight markup language for stories, novels and other fiction.


version 0.26.1


See XML::Grammar::Fiction::FromProto, XML::Grammar::Fiction::ToDocBook and XML::Grammar::Fiction::ToHTML.


XML::Grammar::Fiction is a CPAN distribution that facilitates writing prose fiction (= stories, novels, novellas, etc.). What it does is:

1. Convert a well-formed plain text format to a specialized XML format.
2. Convert the XML to DocBook/XML or directly to HTML for rendering.

The best way to use it non-programatically is using XML::Grammar::Fiction::App::FromProto, XML::Grammar::Fiction::App::ToDocBook and XML::Grammar::Fiction::App::ToHTML, which are modules implementing command line applications for their processing.

In order to be able to share the common code and functionality more easily, then XML::Grammar::Screenplay, which provides similar XML grammar and text-based markup language for writing screenplays, is now included in this CPAN distribution, and you can refer to its documentation as well: XML::Grammar::Screenplay .

The rest of this page will document the syntax of the custom textual format.



Sections are placed in XML-like tags of <section> ... </section> or abbreviated as <s> ... </s>. Opening tags in the format may have attributes whose keys are plaintext and whose values are surrounded by double quotes. (Single-quotes are not supported).

The section tag must have an id attribute (for anchors, etc.) and could contain an optional (but highly recommended) <title> sub-tag. If the title is not specified, it will default to the ID.

Sections may be nested.


Text is any of:

1. Plaintext

Regular text

2. XML-like tags.

Supported tags are <b> for bold text, and <i> for italic text.

3. Entities

The text format supports SGML-like entities such as &amp;, &lt;, &quot; and all other entities that are supported by HTML::Entities.

4. Supported initial characters

The following characters can start a regular paragraph:

  • Any alphanumeric character.

  • Some special characters:

    The characters " (double quotes), ' (single quotes), etc. are supported.

  • XML/SGML entities.

    XML/SGML entities are also supported at the start.

All other characters are reserved for special markup in the future. If you need to use them at the beginning of the paragraph you can escape them with a backslash (\) or their SGML/XML entity (e.g: &qout;).

Types of top-level items.


These are not delimited by anything - just a paragraph of text not containing an empty line. If a paragraph starts with a Plus sign ( + ) then it is immediately expected to be followed by a styling tag (as opposed to a


This is an ordered list with <li>s, similar to its purpose in XHTML.


An unordered list.


Examples Document.

    <body id="index" lang="en-UK">

    <title>David vs. Goliath - Part I</title>

    <s id="top">

    <title>The Top Section</title>

    <!-- David has Green hair here -->

    King <a href="">David</a> and Goliath
    were standing by each other.

    David said unto Goliath: “I will shoot you. I <b>swear</b> I will”

    <s id="goliath">

    <title>Goliath's Response</title>

    <!-- Goliath has to reply to that. -->

    Goliath was not amused.

    He said to David: “Oh, really. <i>David</i>, the red-headed!”.




Other Examples

Examples can be found in the t/data directory, and here:


I (= Shlomi Fish) originated this CPAN distribution (after forking XML:Grammar::Screenplay which was similar enough) so I'll have a convenient way to edit a story I'm writing in Hebrew and similar fiction, as caused me many problems, and I found editing bi-directional DocBook/XML to be painful with either gvim or KDE 4's kate, so I opted for a more plain-texty format.

I hope a lightweight markup language like that for fiction (and possibly other types of manuscripts) will prove useful for other writers. At the moment, a lot of stuff in the proto-text format is subject to change, so you'll need to accept that some modifications to your sources will be required in the future. I hope you still find it useful and let me know if you need any feature or bug-fix.



The following websites have more information about this module, and may be of help to you. As always, in addition to those websites please use your favorite search engine to discover more resources.

Bugs / Feature Requests

Please report any bugs or feature requests by email to bug-xml-grammar-fiction at, or through the web interface at You will be automatically notified of any progress on the request by the system.

Source Code

The code is open to the world, and available for you to hack on. Please feel free to browse it and play with it, or whatever. If you want to contribute patches, please send me a diff or prod me to pull from your repository :)

  git clone git://


Shlomi Fish <>


Please report any bugs or feature requests on the bugtracker website

When submitting a bug or request, please include a test-file or a patch to an existing test-file that illustrates the bug or desired feature.


This software is Copyright (c) 2007 by Shlomi Fish.

This is free software, licensed under:

  The MIT (X11) License