The Discussing Hufflepuff #1: Writers, How Do You Organize?

This is a new feauture on The Writing Hufflepuff, called: The Discussing Hufflepuff. This won’t be weekly or monthly, just whenever I think up a good subject for discussion. I want the subjects to be mainly about writing, but I suspect reading will be discussed a lot as well, haha.

Today I want to talk to you guys about organizing. How do you keep track of all those characters, plot lines, character arcs, ideas etc.? I’d love to say I use my mind palace, like Sherlock…

But who am I kidding? I couldn’t keep organized like that for the life of me! So here is what I do do (please forgive me for this sentence).

Notebooks

I have quite a few notebooks (I’ve got a post about my collection coming up) and I have one for every story. I write down all the ideas I get in these, even if it happens in book 5 and I’m only working on book 1. I also write down dialogues that I don’t want to forget (I’ve got quite a few pages filled in my notebook for The Chosen Ones with future dialogue), character bio’s, family trees, (future) plot lines, plot twists… Just everything that comes to mind that I don’t want to forget!

Evernote

Evernote may be one of my favourite things in the world (after books, writing, food and a few other things of course), as it allows you to create ‘notebooks’ and make seperate notes in them, which you can also tag. It’s really easy to use and find your notes. I use Evernote for character backgrounds (as they can be quite long to write and typing is faster and won’t hurt my hand) and to save my research notes. It’s also awesome because they have an app so you can work on your phone and you can log in on any computer that has Evernote. And if it doesn’t- you can just log in on the website.

I also type out all my notes from my notebooks, just in case I need them and I’m away from home without the right notebook.

Folders

I have one awesome folder that I use for all my stories, as it has tabs. I don’t use this folder for my notes, but for maps of towns, mind maps, inspirational pictures etc.

Cork board

Right now there are only some inspirational quotes and a picture of David Tennant telling me that I should be writing on my cork board, but when I’m writing I put up some notes that I need to keep in mind, the map of Hellburgh etc.

Pinterest

If you haven’t heard of this website, go check it out now. I have several (hidden) boards for The Chosen Ones (and other stories) where I pin (save) pictures for inspiration. It’s a great website for writers, trust me.

pinterest

Inspiration 

When I say Inspiration, in this case I mean the awesome mindmapping program (I got my license from school, I don’t know if it’s free, but otherwise I’m sure there are free alternatives!). I make mindmaps to keep track of my characters and their relationships, but I’ve also created a time line, which is quite useful.

You can find it here.

Powerpoint

I use Powerpoint to make calendars for my stories. In these I keep track of when every chapter takes place, but also birthdays etc.

kalender

This is the calendar for January. The 1,2 and 3 stand for the chapters taking place during this month.

So that’s how I keep track of everything! Do you do any of these things? If not, what do you do? Share it with us!

– The Writing Hufflepuff

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41 thoughts on “The Discussing Hufflepuff #1: Writers, How Do You Organize?

  1. I have tons of notebooks filled with plots, characters and dialogue it’s so useful! Also use Pinterest with private boards – I pin pictures of hairstyles/clothes for characters as well as quotes that help inspire the tone of the chapter. This is such a cool post idea – I think I might do something like this :) can’t wait to see what this new feature brings to the blog :)

  2. Oh forgot to say – they calendar idea is genius I think I’m going to adapt that for one if mine – will make things 1000 times simpler – currently everything’s scattered on paper :)

  3. I have three enormous copybooks filled with ideas. I may have 20 different plots but I end up writing about one that just pops up in my head… I’m so bad at organising my writing though! *hides*

  4. Wow! Well I never organize any of my writing in my notebooks. Writing notebooks are always just for writing down inspiration, brainstorming, etc. Usually I just end up typing up stuff on multiple pages documents which I organize in various “writing” folders on my laptop. I’m obsessed with keeping track of every little detail but I’m also lazy so usually I’ll have a document dedicated to “chapter outlines” and “characters info” (basically physical descriptions and other quirks). I also type up each chapter on a separate document because I find its easier to keep track or like reorganize things if I want to switch chapters around later…..Sometimes all these documents get really annoying because I’m flitting before 4 or 5 of them and I still can’t find what I’m looking for! But this is how I’ve always done it and I’m a creature of habit :P

  5. Wow, you’re so organized! I use a lot of notebooks too to plan my stories, and I have one for the actual story itself and one to keep any ideas or plans that I have. I have that picture of David Tennant telling me to write in my room as well, haha! :)

    That Evernote program sounds really cool. I’ll have to look into it, because I really like how you can use it on your phone as well.

    Great post! :)

  6. I think we’d all love to have a mind palace, don’t we? ;)

    It’s so interesting to learn how other writers work. Our processes are so unique, and it’s fun to see what we have in common and what we do differently. Have you given any thought to a future Discussing Hufflepuff on a day in your writing life? Maybe sharing writing rituals you take care of before or after each session, how long you write (or how many words until you stop), etc.?

    I’ve been doing all my world-building and character development for my WIP in separate documents to avoid info-dumping in the story. It’s worked out swimmingly; if I need details from either document for the story, I just copy, paste into the novel, and edit as necessary. Very grateful I did that, and would recommend it to other speculative fiction writers!

    What else? I have a historical timeline for my novel’s world. It shows roughly when certain characters were born, when wars took place, and plot points from the novel itself. It’s in MS Word, and has three columns: the month and day, an estimate of how many years it happened before or after the beginning of the novel, and a brief description of the event.

    I also have a glossary of names (characters, places, important terms, etc.), a spreadsheet of spells from the novel’s magic system, a “dictionary” for my protagonist’s native language (yes, I made up a language for this book…), and a “reverse” glossary by character in case I need to recall their eye color, hair color, horse’s name, etc.

    *pants as if she finished a marathon*

    • A mind palace would be so useful, haha! I envy Sherlock.

      That’s a fun idea! I’ll definitely do that soon :)

      I like the way you organize! A glossary with eye color and such is a good idea, I often find myself going back to my document with the biographies and then search the entire document to find something small like that. A glossary seems a lot faster!

      I made up a language once too! :) I’ve currently put that WIP on hold as I wanted to focus on one story at a time, but it was definitely fun (though also hard).

      • Absolutely agree with you, making up a language is NOT easy. *lol* But it’s been an interesting challenge, and I like what I’ve come up with so far.

        I have to admit that I’ve let a few of those “organization” documents slide, though. My glossary of terms is months out-of-date. *blushes* So I’m going to have to update it a lot when I start revising the novel in April!

  7. I, like yourself, use Pinterest, notebooks and ppt to sort out stories and characters and such. Scrivner was a major help and improvement on organisation last year when I did NaNo. And I seriously suggest you get it if you don’t!
    I’ll check out your inspiration and evernote things =]

  8. I use a lot of the same methods as you. Mostly Google Docs (kinda like Evernote) because I like to write online. I also use notebooks for keeping track of ideas.

  9. It’s been said before, but it needs to be said again: you are really organized, it’s wonderful! But like you said yourself–whatever works for each person, really. Thank you for sharing!

  10. OhmyGod you are so organised!! I use Werdsmith, which is an app for when I get inspired outside of home. I have a folder too, and a million notebooks like you. I’m looking forward to that post :-P I also got this great book where you can fill out all your plot ideas and characters and settings etc. I should check out all those sites! :-)

  11. Oh my God! I miss Evernote so bad! :(
    I had to delete the app from my phone because there were some problems with the working- something like that, I don’t remember exactly, this was around a year ago- and ever since then I’m envious of people who use Evernote!
    Once I get a new phone, the first thing I’ll do is download the Evernote app.

  12. I am a massive Scrivener advocate, though I don’t find it handy for organizing. For ideas and short tidbits of information, I use Microsoft OneNote. It’s really similar to Evernote, but you can create separate notebooks, categories within those notebooks, and then pages within those categories. The way it’s designed is really easy to navigate, and it’s super colorful (so I like it more than I do Evernote.) It also shares between devices and you can edit offline, so I use that.

    Also… could you link me to this David Tennent picture? I might need that.

  13. Great you have such a good set of systems. I’m normally ok, except for when I get ideas when I sleep. I can never read my writing, and the times when I can, it doesn’t seem to translate to the short story how I hoped.

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