by Brandy Dolce
I'm halfway through the first draft of my second novel and it took until now to find the best way for me to stay organized. Yes, I have several hand written notes in manila file folders that I never look at; single-subject, spiral-bound notebooks crammed with chicken scratch that have gone the way of the word processor; and gigabytes of electronic musings saved somewhere in RAM limbo. The result? A novel built from my notes in my one notebook. Everything else has been forgotten or eaten by moths.
I KEEP ONE NOTEBOOK
I prefer a Five Subject monstrosity, but now I keep just one instead of the baskets-full I used to scribble in. I use sticky notes to mark ideas I dig. Any pages I end up ripping out are stored in the nifty pockets of the dividers. You never know when an old idea will suddenly seem brilliant. The one notebook helps me to stay organized and keep everything portable and in one place.
I START WRITING
I have a general direction (kinda-sorta) of where I want to go with my story and I let the rest flesh itself out. It always works for me. Writers Block is the act of not writing. Write to find your way. It always presents itself. I'm mostly a pantser, but rough outlines help me stay on track because I'm also a dreamer who easily spirals into Neverland. As I write, I get more scene ideas and I'm able to add cells, organs and skin onto my story's skeleton. Gross, but you get the idea. I write these scene ideas in my notebook along with one to three sentences describing the scene. As I write, I'm able to easily follow the outline while filling in new ideas along the way. I also indicate why the scene is relevant to my story and what the scene reveals/accomplishes.
I WRITE IN SCENES
My hair falls out in clumps if I attempt to write in any other way. A novel should be like a set of Dominoes with each scene fluidly knocking into the next and so on. I keep this visual when I begin to hyperventilate. Picturing the book as little stories within a big story is the cornerstone of this writer's process.
Keep it simple. One notebook for the outline and notes; writing to incinerate doubt and gain ideas; and implementing scenes as the building blocks to my mostly organized first draft is what works for this chic. The flaws can be worked out later.
What are some ways you stay organized? Please share!
Additional info: Here's a great post on Writing a Book Scene By Scene