Organizing Your Story Notes
I think it's best to have as few files as possible, just organize them as best you can. For the book I'm working on, I used to have several different files for storing different information because one file would get too huge and difficult to navigate. Now I found a great way to navigate Word documents, so I dump it all in one file.
If you have several word documents for a project you want to combine into a single, easy-to-navigate document, here's how to do it:
- Copy and paste them all into one document.
- Make sure to give each a heading based off its function, like "Characters" or "Plot" or "Setting." The heading doesn't need to be anything special other than having its own line of text.
- In microsoft Word, click "View" then "Navigation Pane." In the new pane that pops up, select "Document Map" (which is opposed to "Thumbnail.") This pane allows you make bookmark-like markers (let's call them bookmarks for ease) in your document so you can quickly navigate large files.
- Word sometimes tries to guess where to put these bookmarks, so you might already have some. They probably are of little use to you, so get rid of them by clicking "Edit" and "Select all" to highlight your entire document, then "Format" and "Paragraph." Where it says "Outline Level" select "Body."
- Now let's start organizing. Highlight one of those typed headings from step 2 like "Characters." Now click "Format" and "Paragraph." Where it says "Outline Level," select "Level 1." The word "Characters" should appear in the navigation pane, and if you click on it (in the pane, that is), it will lead you to the characters section from no matter where you are in the document.
- Repeat step 5 for all of your headings. "Setting," "Plot," "Deleted Scenes," etc.
- You can also use subheadings. In "Characters," if you have a section for each character, make a heading for each one of those. "Captain Proton," "Doctor Chaotica," etc. Highlight the name, then click "Format" and "Paragraph" again. This time, where it says "Outline Level," select "Level 2."
After all this, you now have a document map that lets you easily navigate all your hundreds of pages of notes from a single word document. No file clutter, and much easier to backup.
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