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How Do You Organize Your Writing?

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions How Do You Organize Your Writing?

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  • #136503
    Bethania Gauterius
    @sparrowhawke

    I’m talking WIPs, outlines, notes, drafts, whatever. How do your organize it all? What tools do you use? Digital or paper?

    (yes I started this topic because my writings are a mess and scattered all over and I need to clean and re-organize my Google Drive and OneNote)

    tagging some people:


    @rose-colored-fancy


    @irishcelticredflowercrown


    @this-is-not-an-alien


    @obrian-of-the-surface-world


    @arindown


    @devastate-lasting


    @joy-caroline

    "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." - Psalm 103:14

    #136506
    Brian Stansell
    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    @sparrowhawke

    Good evening Bethania!

    Organization…well, it really depends on the story for me.  There were some that I just had to slog through, one or two had an outline and some just were chasing an idea and an intriguing set of questions.
    For the initial draft of a story it has to be just sitting down and writing and thinking about interesting questions related to the 5 W’s + H (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How?).  I find it most helpful to start with a Theme, a vital important question that is not limited to the story itself, but that is connected to a real life issue or misconception that must be clarified and aligned to a supernatural or spiritual truth.  The bible talks about taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and of casting down everything that exalts itself against God.  This exercise creates the central tension of every one of the story’s I’ve written that has any meaning in them.  Look in the scriptures for a central passage that encapsulates your true message and build out from that core value.  Ask questions around it. As it of the peoples and creatures that you want to inhabit your story. As it of the MC and reluctant hero, ask it of the villains and those who might impede or mislead the hero.  Find out what their motivations are around the central issue and then ask yourself why they have arrived at the conclusions they either have reached or will reach.  Think of this central column that runs through the core of your story like the spine of it.  Everything else will in some way attach to that central spine, but articulate in their own fashion from it.

    Organize your character in groups of the most prominent character, the heroes, the villains, the henchmen, the supporting characters who will help the hero, the neutral character who may just bumble through and get in the way, the well-meaning Job’s friends types who end up antagonizing the MC or their company of heroes.

    Find sketches and pictures that might align to what you think they might be like.  Think about their backgrounds, their culture, their family situation, their heroes and enemies, failures and triumphs, preferences, personalities, quirks and go to peculiarities of their language and speech patterns.  Then their appearance and habits.
    Scrivner is a good organizing software that runs about $40 if you need something to capture and build these things with structure.  Otherwise use folder systems to collect data in groups.
    Then you might think of the places in the story and build out category folders for that, and explore images of landscapes to give you a sense of it. Pixabay is a good free resource for images.

    Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
    I was born in war.
    Fighting from my first breath.

    #136507
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @sparrowhawke

    I got Scrivener for my birthday and I really love it! It helps keep everything organized without having to open dozens of folders for it.

    I have a section for each chapter, with a couple of sentences on the corkboard feature so I can see the whole outline at once. It’s also pretty easy to change and move around. (Which I do a lot XD)

    I repeat this for the second draft, and I have separate folders for the outlines. I also tag each chapter by the POV and whether it’s fast-paced or slow. (that’s a personal thing, I tend to struggle with pacing so I want to make sure I don’t have massive lagging pieces.) I also mark out the biggest plot points so I can make sure they fall in the right places.

    Otherwise, I have a notebook cluttering around that I sometimes take notes in and I sometimes write a couple sentences in my phone’s notepad when inspiration strikes suddenly. (Sometimes I forget to provide context and find it weeks later like “???” XD)

    Anyway, I like Scrivener, it works for me! I like having my stuff organized, but I hate organizing it XD So it usually means I organize everything while I’m procrastinating and then make a mess for a couple weeks until I reorganize everything again XD

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #136510
    Linyang Zhang
    @devastate-lasting

    @sparrowhawke I used my head, mainly, and also Evernote. I’m much more on the pantser side of the spectrum, so plotting-wise I usually have very little.

    Usually whenever I start a new project on a notebook, on the second page I jot down the main event I want to happen in each chapter, and then roll with that. Sometimes it changes. Sometimes it doesn’t.

    But, yeah, Evernote has been super helpful for me. I suggest you check it out!

    "I set a melody upon the scenery I saw outside my window;
    It's beginning in my spacy world."
    - TK

    #136512
    Arindown (Gracie)
    @arindown

    @sparrowhawke

    I don’t really have much advice.😄. I’m a panster, so I have a lot of random stuff all over the place. I have a computer folder for each of my WIP’s, and ones for characters, author stuff and reference photos, but other than that, it’s usually all in my head.

    One thing I’ve found is that if I don’t keep it, or I don’t remember it, then it’s usually not that important for the actual storyline. If it’s important for story, I remember it.

    Other than that, all is chaos in my corner.🤣

    Not all those who wander are lost.

    #136522
    Joy C. Woodbury
    @joy-caroline

    @sparrowhawke

    I use a little notebook and some Bible verse pens a friend gave me to take small notes on possible plot or character ideas. The Bible verse pens remind me why I’m writing, so that’s a fun tidbit. XD

    I do most everything else on the computer. I use Microsoft Word for pretty much everything (the drafts themselves, outlining, character profiles, etc.). But Google Docs is good for sending stuff off to beta readers because then they can easily make comments and suggestions right on it. Also, Scrivener is awesome for organizing notes and other things. I use it once in a while and would recommend!

    In the rain the pavement shines like silver
    All the lights are misty in the river

    #136528
    Ashley Tegart
    @ashley-tegart

    I hope it’s okay if I reply without being tagged! 🙂

    I do almost all of my story notes (initial brainstorming, world building notes, outline, etc) on paper. I have a designated “ideas” notebook for my WIP where I keep all of my notes (which often becomes disorganized if I fail to flag important pages). I always type my synopses on the computer, though.

    After I’ve finished a draft, I take notes by hand during my first read-through. Pen and paper does take longer, but I find I remember information better.

    #136548
    Cathy
    @this-is-not-an-alien

    *blinks* …you can organize that lol?
    *surreptitiously glances at; the drawer literally completely stacked with notes for just one story, then at the other drawer, the closet (no wait…I moved that all to the drawer), two crammed computer folders, my Pinterest secret boards*
    I make my own dayplanners…and yearplanners, project breakdowns I even wrote this fill-in-the-blank novel outliner *scratches head* I can probably email you a pdf of that…but it’s kinda dippy.
    I have a publication for my worldbuilding, every time I ad lib worldbuilding in my novel I add it there even if I delete the actual scene later so I can remember/keep consistent my worldbuilding rules which I can also pdf if ya want…
    I have *goes to check* five drafts–several incomplete–of the same novel and I cross reference with those whenever I find a scene/plot point/idea I want keep I review it and probably scribble the notes around somewhere…the most I write it the more I know it belongs and, more importantly, the more my subconscious knows it belongs and works with the material I give it XD. *no pdf will be given of earlier drafts unless you want to die lol*
    I have a publication where I primarily free write out of plot problems. You have to write without stopping for nothing though for it to work absolutely no filter and write out everything even if you’ve already explained it to yourself in your head.
    Every chapter has a particular POV usually but there are plenty of exceptions. I write about a paragraph or less explaining to me what I want to do in this chapter so that I have “whole picture” from the rest of the WIP and then I’m free to narrow my focus on the mini-events of the scenes and then I rewrite the whole thing with details and a deeper/more focused POV*can…probably dig up an example but I usually delete the paragraph once I’m done* Also I have no clue where my story is going but I know precisely what’s going to happen lol

    Basically just…actually idk good luck! XD

    Don't let the voices in your head drive you insane;only some of them can drive; most are underage

    #136624

    I don’t always think about how I organize things because usually it just comes naturally. But when I think about it, I guess I organize on paper. I love getting out a fresh sheet of paper and outlining ideas for stories or other things, wether writing related or not. Sometimes I use Google Docs, but I prefer paper and pens. 🙂

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #136801
    Natalie Cone
    @nataliecone

    I love using Trello. I’m frustratingly visual, so organizational methods that tuck everything away neatly make me want to cry 😆. I WANT to use (and want to love) scrivener because it’s so easy to move everything around, but there’s something about it that fries my brain cells. It’s just not smooth enough for me.

     

    I also use a large bulletin board on my wall for index cards, printouts, and all manner of brainstorming. My dream is to one day have an entire cork wall for pinning ideas!! (because my weird brain perceives that Pinterest tucks everything away too much, as well 🙄)

    Peace, Love, and Pickles! ✌
    www.nataliecone.com

    #136816
    Bethania Gauterius
    @sparrowhawke

    @rose-colored-fancy

    I got Scrivener for my birthday and I really love it! It helps keep everything organized without having to open dozens of folders for it.


    @joy-caroline

    Also, Scrivener is awesome for organizing notes and other things. I use it once in a while and would recommend!

    At first I didn’t think Scrivener would be useful for me, but the more I keep hearing about it, the more it sounds like something I’d really like! Maybe in the next year or so.


    @ashley-tegart

    I do almost all of my story notes (initial brainstorming, world building notes, outline, etc) on paper. I have a designated “ideas” notebook for my WIP where I keep all of my notes (which often becomes disorganized if I fail to flag important pages). I always type my synopses on the computer, though.

    After I’ve finished a draft, I take notes by hand during my first read-through. Pen and paper does take longer, but I find I remember information better.

    Your process sounds similar to mine. I have a lot of notes in a notebook that I label with sticky tabs (e.g., blue for notes on this character, yellow for plot points, etc.). I’m working on keeping the messy brainstormings in the notebook and typing up the cleaner “final” notes into a Google doc. I haven’t finished a novel draft yet, but I really like Google’s comment feature for leaving myself editing notes. Do you print out your drafts?


    @arindown

    One thing I’ve found is that if I don’t keep it, or I don’t remember it, then it’s usually not that important for the actual storyline. If it’s important for story, I remember it.

    I get a lot of good ideas when I’m trying to fall asleep, so I have to force myself to write them down. Otherwise, they’re gone in the morning. I also once lost a paper that had an amazing plot outline on it and I’m still so mad at myself for doing that XD


    @devastate-lasting

    I use OneNote sometimes, which I think is like Evernote. Right now it’s a mess and I’m trying to think how to use it in conjunction with my Google drive system.


    @nataliecone

    I have heard of Trello, but haven’t used it yet. Is it useful for something like scene cards where you can move notes around? I tried to do that with Google Keep, but it didn’t work. I could label the notes, but I couldn’t move them around within their labels, which is kinda important for something like scene cards XD

    "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." - Psalm 103:14

    #136817
    Linyang Zhang
    @devastate-lasting

    @sparrowhawke Oh, good luck with that, then!

    "I set a melody upon the scenery I saw outside my window;
    It's beginning in my spacy world."
    - TK

    #136820
    Natalie Cone
    @nataliecone

    @ashley-tegart

    I hope it’s okay if I reply without being tagged! 🙂 I do almost all of my story notes (initial brainstorming, world building notes, outline, etc) on paper. I have a designated “ideas” notebook for my WIP where I keep all of my notes (which often becomes disorganized if I fail to flag important pages). I always type my synopses on the computer, though. After I’ve finished a draft, I take notes by hand during my first read-through. Pen and paper does take longer, but I find I remember information better.

    I love this!! There’s something satisfying and magical about using pen and paper. ❤️

     


    @sparrowhawke
    Yes Trello can be dragged and changed around. You have lists (brainstorming, first draft, second draft, characters, etc) and within the lists you create cards. You can link documents to the cards, so if you’re like me, and you like having a separate document for each chapter, you can drag the cards from one list to the next (like dragging the chapter 1 card from the first draft list to second draft list). You can also label the cards with color codes, which help me mark the spot in the outline that chapter needs to fall, or you can use the labels to mark which characters are in that chapter. You can customize the labels to whatever you need them to be.

    Peace, Love, and Pickles! ✌
    www.nataliecone.com

    #136834
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @sparrowhawke

    To be honest Bethania, you can do pretty great organization with google drive using well arranged folders, documents, and bulleted or numbered lists. If you want some sort of timeline tool for events, something like Sutori could be useful. Now, it becomes more and more useful to have a special tool (like Scrivener) the bigger the book or series you are writing. So if you’re writing a epic fantasy series, then you might want a better tool. Scrivener is the tool of heard the most good things about, and I’m sure I’ll try it out some day. What is your WIP’s plot and setting btw?

     

     

    #136858
    Bethania Gauterius
    @sparrowhawke

    @nataliecone

    Thanks! I might have to check out Trello when it comes time to making scene cards.

    @noahcochran

    Yes, I really love how easy to use Google Drive is–it’s a lot cleaner to me than Office. And it works better on saving my stuff than OneDrive ever does. I love using bulleted lists when brainstorming–it makes everything a lot neater.

    Two of my WIPs are high fantasy with elemental magic. One has a desert setting that I think will be inspired by ancient Babylonia and Assyria (with some Greek-ish inspired philosophy thrown in) and the other is inspired by Incan history and mythology. And then I have a contemporary WIP about siblings, issues in the church, and standing up for truth.

    "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." - Psalm 103:14

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