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In this paper we introduce a notion of symplectic normal crossings divisor V and define the GW invariant of a symplectic manifold X relative such a divisor. Our definition includes normal crossings divisors from algebraic geometry. The invariants we define in this paper are key ingredients in symplectic sum type formulas for GW invariants, and extend those defined in our previous joint work with T.H. Parker [IP1], which covered the case V was smooth. The main step is the construction of aarXiv:1103.3977v3 fatcat:htcacynyqba2tibkvnacpytj6u