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November 13th, 2004, 07:26 PM
I am starting to feel overwhelmed by trying to track and organize all of the bits and pieces of the story that I am working on. Does anyone have any recommendations for both electronic and paper-based ways for keeping track of "everything"?

November 13th, 2004, 07:55 PM
Hi Heater,

Phillip Pullman (author of His Dark Materials trilogy) uses post-it-notes (small pieces of yellow paper that have a sticky edge so you can stick them to things). Allegedly he writes plot details on these and sticks them to a wall in his garden shed (where he writes) and due to the sticky nature of them he can arrange and rearrange them accordingly.

So, if on each slip of paper you write an event or occurence, you can then switch them around and try different sequences.

Alternatively, perhaps you could keep track of all your plotting in a notepad or something?

Hope this helps.

November 13th, 2004, 10:48 PM
I type a chapter, print it out, add it too my binder then get a pen and start editing normal mistakes.
If that sticks to topic so be it.

November 13th, 2004, 11:54 PM
We had a great thread about the 'Snowflake Method' (http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8763) you might want to check out.

Binders are good. So are expanding file pockets and file folders.

What is it you're trying to organize about your writing?

November 14th, 2004, 02:34 PM
I keep looseleaf binders with divisions for varios aspects of the story/universe, ie:
Character bios
Geography and maps, including floor plans
History and timeline
Info on Mars (where my stories are set--this could be a section for any real life info you need to keep track of that affects the story)
Character lists (who works where, includes charts)
and so on.

I also have an Excel chart for the chapters and scenes, with columns for the chapter number, the scene number, the pov character, the main action, and one for any other info that is revealed in the scene that's relevant to the overall story or that I need to remember.

November 15th, 2004, 08:27 PM
Here's a few more.
Get Organized in 5 Easy Steps (http://writerssuccess.netfirms.com/PastArticles.htm)

Writer's Tool Kit - Writing Coach (http://www.writerstoolkit.com/writingcoach.htm)

Organize Your Writing Files (http://www.activepro.com/activepro-38-20030822OrganizeYourWritingFiles.html)

November 17th, 2004, 05:19 AM
I actually have a folder (partially ripped because its been stuffed with too much stuff) of maps, biogs, plot notes, bad sketches, an assortment of chapters from various projects I had going, and various other odds and ends.

I don't really use any of the material in it, but I keep it because it is reassuring to pick the folder up from time to time and read my old work - and then realizing how much I've improved since then!

November 18th, 2004, 07:01 PM
Word and Excel are you friends.

Any time you add a new characters, kill one off, create a city or item, build a list and pop in a brief description. This will do two things for you.

1) Create a list of all your stuff (duh) for you to draw upon.

2) When you're done with your book, you can pick and choose what will go in your appendix/defintions/whatever. You just need to do some brief editing (you don't want everything about a character in the appendix) and you've got it. Magic, eh?

James Barclay
November 19th, 2004, 11:37 AM
I do two things. First, I have a word file of chapter summaries. This will give me date, time, place and one-liners on key events that occur within each chapter. I've found it an extremely handy reference.

Second, I keep a card file on my desk. Whenever I introduce something new, be it as large as a country or as small as a family crest, I note it on a card and file it alphabetically. I cross reference with other cards in the deck too - hence a family crest will be described under the family card and also noted on the 'crests' card. It's particularly useful for being consitent in character descriptions, ages, sizes of armies (and how they are whittled away)... those aggravating facts you have to have to be complete. It's a bit old century but it works.


Gary Wassner
November 19th, 2004, 11:57 AM
I work much as Maus described. I keep a Word file of unfinished or incomplete threads, items of power that I introduced in one book or specific omens that were discussed and not resolved, tangential themes that have not played out etc. When I start to write each day, I open up that file in the background. I also update my glossary all the time so that I can keep track of the more peripheral characters; their hair color, characteristics etc. for easy reference, and I leave that running in the background as well.

In going over the proofs of one of my finished books recently, I realized that I had made reference to 10 Chosen, when in fact there were 11 present at the time. In an earlier chapter in the same book, I had originally said 11. I decided that I needed to keep a handy list of groups and numbers in those groups for accurate and easy reference. As series get longer and longer, managing the characters and places becomes ever more difficult.