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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Getting Organized

If you are like me, you have notes on your book scattered all over the place. Any time I get an idea, or figure out how/why something works or takes place, I scribble it down so I don't forget. That's why there are notebooks in the car, van, kitchen, under my bed, in my purse, etc. There is one problem with this method.
What if you can't find that one note you NEED?

For instance, a couple of months ago, I wrote the BEST back jacket cover for my shiny new idea EVER. It was truly perfect in every way. I remember writing it in a yellow notebook (all my notebooks are yellow to differentiate from my daughters' notebooks). I remember going to put it on my blog page for shiny new idea and then chickening out because "what if someone takes this and writes it before I do?"

Now, I'm ready to write said shiny idea and I Can't. Find. The. Notes.

I've tried to recreate that perfect book cover and it keeps falling flat. I'm devestated.

I don't want this to happen ever again so I'm creating an electronic and a physical Story Bible for each of my story ideas. 

I got this idea from Marne Ann Kirk, author of “The Fae Dragon Chronicles: Love Chosen” coming Soon from Crescent Moon Press.

This is going to keep me organized and it has the added bonus of keeping the little threads/items/places/info/ etc accurate in my story. No more wondering, "when did she loose the locket?" I can look in the story bible and find the answer.

For the electronic version, I'll be using Scrivener (because it's so lovely shiny and easy to use.) There are lots of other programs out there and I've used yWriter (which is free). You can also just use the folder system and save everything on your computer.

However, since I'm very much a visual and tangible type person, I'm going to print out everything I type up and put them in a binder for each story. (I like flipping through pages.) Sendek will obviously be the largest as a series binder. It will have dividers for the different books in the series as well.
You can put anything you want in this Bible. Here are some basic suggestions:
  • Synopsis
  • Outline
  • Back Jacket Blurb
  • Query letter
  • List of Characters
  • Individual character sheets
  • List of Settings
  • List of Creatures
  • Important vocabulary (especially if you are writing a novel that involves technical terms: medical, military, science based, etc)
  • Rules/Laws (How things work in your world. Great for dystopian, magic, etc.)
  • List of important Items you need to keep track of in the story
  • Time line of events
  • Story-Board
  • Scene by scene list of characters--I'm doing this to make sure I'm not spending too much time with one character while the reader might be wondering, "What happened to so-and-so?"
  • Map of your world, city, etc
  • List of subplots, whose involved and how they relate to the main plot
  • Plot Tent
  • Pictures of actors that remind you of your characters
  • Scene collages
  • Sketches
  • Any research you do to make your story believable
What else can you think of? Does this help? Do you have any questions?


N.Scott said...

Awesome! Thanks for the info!

Tara Tyler said...

you're very ambitious! will you go through with it?
i use manilla folders and msword. i'm not fancy, but i am organized! or try to be =)

now where was that list of killer characters i was going to use for that blogfest???

Charity Bradford said...

LOL, yes Tara, and I'll take pictures when I print things out.

Right now I have the following for Sendek:
Query, synopsis, individual character sheets & interviews--includes descriptions and pictures of actors, Soundtrack list, back jacket blurb, rules of how the magic works and who can work it, outline of the inner and outer conflicts for Talia, a test run book trailer (from a blogfest), there's a map somewhere if I can find it...

I have these things, its just a matter of locating and consolidating them into one location. I'm working on a few other things mostly because I feel I need more world building before I can really call this book finished.

My main goal is to start all of this right now for the next book. Hopefully it will make writing it easier. ;)

I think I have 4-5 manilla folders in ms documents labeled with some form of "sendek" in it. LOL.

AveryMarsh said...

Oh, wow. Looking at that list and binder made me realize how poorly organized I am. I'm constantly searching my computer for... "soundtrack" or species or powers lists or the version of my draft that I updated last which isn't always the one with the highest number on the end. Time to "borrow" your list and get to work.

Huntress said...

Great Post!
I use the folders system, hard copy and virtual.
I suggest using a backup system to all copies of your manuscripts or research. Manually, via flashdrives or automatically.
Seagate makes a great external storage unit that backs up all my documents on a schedule I devised.
Takes the worry out of crashes and lightning strikes.

Charity Bradford said...

Avery, remember, you don't need to do all of these things. Pick and choose and add what is best for you and the story you are working on.

Good luck, and borrow away!

Kimberly Krey said...

Wow - this is BRILLIANT! Must. Print. Out. Seriously, from someone who lacks organization skills to a sad degree (yet not nearly as sad as man in photo) this suggestion/idea is much appreciated!

Angela Brown said...

This helps IMMENSELY. Something I also do is I like to keep a running list of title ideas. I know the final title may be different than what I start with, but listing the various ideas can spark the match for that perfect ONE.

Elizabeth said...

Love this post...and the photo is hilarious.

I am very organized...have tons of lists and reminders. :)



Elizabeth said...

BTW, New Follower.



mshatch said...

I don't have this for all my stories but I do for my big fantasies. I wouldn't be able to manage otherwise. Great post!

Brooke R. Busse said...

I bought a purple legal pad to carry around with me and make notes in for NaNo project. I'll write down all the plot points and backstory and yadda yadda yadda and then I'll write out a summary (that will most likely stink) and a list of characters with their names and short descriptions and then a list of all current plot points in order.