Writing a book requires a lot of dedication and time. This is why it is important to organize your novel. Some authors do this by jotting down plot outlines, chapter outlines, timelines and keeping bulletin boards. There are also many other forms of tracking your storyline to ensure the book follows a logical path, also help you pave a path from start to finish. On the flip side, some authors fly by the seat of their pants and write as they go. They will write as they need to in order to reach a deadline. Both of these forms of writing can be successful as long as you stick to it. You might be one of these extremes or some sort of happy medium in the middle. As long as you find a form that works best for you, stick with it.
When should I focus on organizing my novel’s plot?
If you are finding yourself getting confused with the plot’s direction, facing writers block, or forgetting key elements in the story. You might be getting yourself lost with details such as a character’s hair colour, the protagonist’s father or a major event that triggered the storyline. If these are the caose, it might be time to look at a new way to establish your novel so nothing is left in the dust. Or as I like to call it – avoiding plot holes.
How do I organize my novel?
As mentioned earlier, there are many ways to do this. A good strategy to pinpoint how you can organize it is to find out what you are struggling to keep track of in your current writing process and write these struggles down.
There is no right way to organize yourself for writing a book.
To further elaborate, below are some ideas that can help you find a means that best suits you. Some of these may apply and you may end up merging some of the ideas into your own groove.
- Plot and Chapter Outlines – This was covered in a previous blog series post but is possibly the most valuable planning process to follow. You quite literally write yourself a bullet list to follow from beginning to end with your novel.
- Character Sheets – Again, this is covered in a previous blog series. Character sheets will help you remember personality and physical traits of your characters so you do not have to backtrack and find what colour their eyes were or risk the chance of inconsistencies in your book.
- Style Guide – Or this can also be known as an index or glossary for your book. This type of organization works well for fantasy or science fiction novels. You can keep track of characters, places, items, historical events or section that fits your book to help organize all of the otherworldly things found in the book.
- Bulletin Board – This was mentioned at the beginning of the blog. A bulletin board can either by a physical board with sticky notes or pinned paper on your wall or something like a private Pinterest board where you keep various notes of the plots and characters.
With a physical board you can use draw string to connect certain pins as well to represent relations.
- Sketch Book – An exceptionally helpful piece of organization is a sketch book (or an idea book covered in a previous post). Their purpose is to jot down any thoughts that come to mind. These books do not have to ever be shared with the public, so in a way it is a lot like a diary. You can write down dreams, plot premises or character ideas for novels. It is a blank piece of paper with its sole purpose of extracting the ideas from your head out into the physical world.
What about actual tools or tricks to help keep me organized?
There are many different ways to write a book and the ideas listed above are only a handful of what are out there. Personally I have never been a fan of writing software that claim to offer an all-in-one solution to writing a book. I’m old fashioned when it comes to organization and believe in writing things down. I also have the memory of a goldfish, so writing them down gives me something to reference in the future.
I hope these tips have given you some ideas to keep yourself organized for your writing. If you have any other insight on organizing a book, feel free to share it in the comments.