1. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    How do you save your novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by thabear637, May 11, 2009.

    Just curious how everyone saves their novel, as far as keeping it organized. What I mean by this, is do you keep it as one document? split it up by chapters? How do you organize your novel while writing it?

    Me personally what I've been doing is creating a new word document for each chapter. I figure it would be easier to swap the order of the chapters if I should feel the need to do that. It also keeps the word document smaller..which I know sometimes documents can freeze when it's rather large.

    How do you do it?
     
  2. democat
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    democat Member

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    Well I'm a graphic designer so if word freezes my computer i have some serious issues to deal with.

    The most I've written in a novel(la) is 40 thousand words (give or take) so i just go with one large file. Most likely a throw back to the file structure I use for digital illustration: I save in edits (edit01, 02 etc) I'm not sure how I'll go reorganizing chapters if it comes to that, but my chapters are not very long - the longest being 6 thousand words which I plan on dividing into a couple of chapters. When i zoom out to show the entire novel on one page it is quite clear where one starts and another ends so I will most likely chop and change it that way.

    I don't think I could stomach multiple word documents I like having the whole thing in front of me so i can go backwards and forwards at my leisure. Simply searching for Chapter [no.] allows me to cut straight to were i want to go.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I keep it all as one file. I save it as Novel Title v. 1, Novel Title v. 2, etc.

    When you submit your novel, you'll have to have it all as one file anyway.

    You can cut and paste to move chapters or sections within a novel, if that is a concern.

    You can use the 'find' option to locate chapters within the full text of the novel, or even use phrases or names to locate specific events or information. Much easier than opening, say three chapters, to find what you're looking for.

    Of course, I back up multiple places as I work.

    Terry
     
  4. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have each chapter and relevant information about that chapter (notes, maps, concept art upon which to base my descriptions, and good dialogue ideas) in separate folders.

    I have a few folders in one larger folder.

    I have several larger folders in one folder.

    I repeat this for the Gaelic version of the book.

    That is on three computers, in two countries, in three nations.
     
  5. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I save it all in one large file. I play some pretty graphic-reliant computer games, so like someone else said, if Word freezes my computer, something's seriously wrong.

    Sometimes if I just want to write a scene that won't leave me alone, I'll write it and save it as 'sceneofnoveltitle' so that I won't forget about it later. Then when it's time for it, I copy/paste it into the larger file and delete it.

    ~Lynn
     
  6. Forde
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    Forde Member

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    I end up having (probably) far too many separate files.

    The main novel.
    The brief overview, or structure of what is going to happen.
    A set of biographies for any character that warrants one.
    Descriptions of any locations that are to be described in detail.
    A general notes file where I can jot down ideas that seem useful but don't fit into the novel yet (this is a great Alladin's Cave for when you're stuck).
    At least one backup.

    A lot of admin there but it saves me time in the long run.
     
  7. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tend to have one folder for the novel, split into sub-folders of parts (if it's a novel which I have split into parts, as I occasionally do), then with the relevant chapters in those folders.

    My planning ends up in a separate (very untidy) folder.
     
  8. seije
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    seije Member

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    I am a bit nervous about losing my writing, so i have 2 files, 'title.doc' and 'title_backup.doc'. When i've finished writing for a while i'll save the file under both names... Every 2k words or so i'll upload both files onto my online storage as well, in case my hard drive goes out on me, and i also have a usb drive i save it to from time to time, though i'll admit i haven't used it in a while. maybe now is a good time to do that...

    as for organization, i have it all in one file, just so i know how many words i've written. I know it's quality over quantity, but it's still fun to have a number to tell people that ask me how far along i am, especially since i skip around a lot.

    I also have an outline file and a few brainstorming files, for ideas that don't fit into my story yet. (I'm actually trying to write a series, so there's lots of ideas that aren't going to fit, nor are they supposed to, in the first novel.)
     
  9. thabear637
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    thabear637 Member

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    thanks, you gave me good reasons to rethink how I organize things.

    I still like the idea of writing each chapter as a seperate document, but I may create another "master file" that is each chapter combined. When I finish a new chapter, just copy and paste it into the master.
     
  10. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    I actually use Microsoft Onenote. It's like a scrapbook or notebook. You can have sections within your notebook, I have research, character profiles, notes, website links ect.

    I also use One note while writing the first draft. It's very easy to move things around and seperate chapters or sections within the notebook. Once the story is a little more developed I move it into Word, format it correctly and keep working from there.
     
  11. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Mine isn't exactly organized by chapter, but I have it in sections. It's 9 different files. 1-2 chapters each. I also have separate files for notes, outlines, and things like that.
     
  12. bumboclaatjones
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    bumboclaatjones Member

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    wow, everyone here is so organized and hi-tech with your computers and all. I have a dozen dog eared spiral bound notebooks that are filled up with notes and beginnings and intros, 3 sketchbooks with drawings, intros, and explanatory little blurbs, and a little tiny notepad that I carry around with me to write random ideas down on. Plus I have my main spiral notebook that I actually am writing a novel in. Maybe one of these days I'll have to compile it all on Word. One of these days.
     
  13. -NM-
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    -NM- Active Member

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    Have my main hand written copy.

    Then when i've finished the entire first draft i write it all up onto the computer and save it there, and on a USB.
     
  14. PS Foster
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    PS Foster Member

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    I also write mine in longhand first, then type into Open Office. I'll do a quick read-over to catch typos and such, but I print it out to do real editing. Then I edit the O.O. version accordingly. I usually print out a hard copy of the finished product because somewhere down the road I'll reread it and edit some more.
     
  15. Nikita88
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    Nikita88 Member

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    I keep it all in Google Docs so I can open/edit it on any computer without having to ever download it or worry about having the right version of MS Office or whatever. Makes life a little easier :) The only physical writing I do (like on a notebook) is outlining ideas and chapters, and trying to draw out maps for myself to better understand the story I'm writing.
     
  16. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    Google docs is great for storing, editing and critiquing. Over the years, I've lost so much stuff- my first two novels (neither were finished but one was two hundred pages in) many of my favourite short stories, and hundreds of pages of notes- I've gotten a bit paranoid. I have two hard drives- my stories are saved on both. I have a flash drive which houses the music I've downloaded from iTunes and don't have the physical cds for, as well as all my stories. The stories are also saved on my ipod, and many of them are saved in google documents. It might seem like a lot, but I don't want to lose any of my writing again.
     
  17. JGraham
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    JGraham Senior Member

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    I have two files, one that is my beginning which is like 46 pages and the other that is the rest. 165 pgs currently. I probably should have separated more but this works. then i have diagrams notes and other files for it as well as a notebook i carry at all times in case im not at home.
     
  18. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    I have a main large file with the whole novel.

    However, I tend to write original scenes on their own, in a new clean document and these get saved in a folder called scenes.

    I then incorporate them into the story as I go along.

    It's handy keeping everything in the same document. You can keep a good idea of how much you've written. Conversly, you don't pay any attension to this with it all in little bits, which means you may concentrate on the story a little more.
     
  19. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    I have my first draft handwritten.

    Then for my second (which I've nearly finished now) I have one big document for the whole thing. I back it up onto USB after every chapter is done (as well as saving it every five minutes, of course). For some reason I have no desire to split my chapters up.

    I also have a file for my outline, one for loose ends I've found that I need to find a way to revise into the beginning of the story, a file each for my POV characters and one big document for all my other characters.

    Each revision I do will be saved into its own file, too.
     
  20. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since I don't think in terms of chapters but rather the overall concept/story, I could not begin to file a project by chapter. And, for my ADHD brain, that would create so much clutter to deal with I'd probably give it up altogether anyway.

    I keep a file on my computer under <MANUSCRIPTS> and with the working title for the project (I rely heavily on the mc's name at this point and may change that somewhere down the line when a 'real' title presents itself.) Within the ms file, I date subsequent versions for reference purposes if there is substantial change made between - say, 01/06/11 and 06/01/11. Besides saving to a computer file, I have a flash on which I keep all manuscript files as well. I also keep a notebook and multiple pens and mechanical pencils along with the most recent pages on several WIPs so that, should I get caught out somewhere and something flashes in my pea brain, I've got the materials to allow me to 'go with the flow'. Then, when I get home, those notes are incorporated into the particular project. When, after multiple copy edits and proofreads and still more edits, I am satisfied the project is as good as it's going to get and any more changes would just be gratuitous, I burn it to disk. That, of course, does not preclude a later, updated version, of the manuscript and yet another disk to burn.

    Once the project is, essentially complete, the CD goes into a CD bank. The documents on the computer remain while submissions make the rounds and, during this process, the new files go in ... <Submission Letter>; <AGENTS>; <SUBMISSIONS> (In this one I keep a record of the actual submission package sent to any particular agent/agency); <SUBMISSION RECORD> (This is actually a tracking grid file with columns for the agent/agency name; what materials were sent; the date; the response from the agent; any follow-up.) AND I have a file cabinet for all the hard copy notes on various project ideas and handwritten stories that have yet to earn their way onto the computer.
     
  21. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I keep my current work in progress in one file.

    After a near-accident, I also for the first time saved it onto a memory stick just in case. I live dangerously. :p

    I'm revising my ms at the moment (almost done!) and I've sometimes copy/pasted parts I want to expand into a new word document, written more, and then copied back into the main doc.

    For a while I had one doc called 'CUT' where I'd put some phrases and descriptions that were taken out, and I wasn't sure whether to incorporate them at some point. That's all done and I've deleted it.

    I don't like having many files saved, much less any unnecessary paper around. You should see my desk at work. ;) Anyway it works for me.
     
  22. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^I do exactly like this too. Plus I keep some kind of a "garbage-folder" for the stuff I might take out of the novel that I'm not sure if I want to throw away or put back in again, it might be a subplot of another character that I can't decide if it is relevant or if it would make a novel of its own, like right now, plus a scene I took out after realising that I had two scenes with a similar purpose too close to each other...
    I always save the days work on my USB-flash drive (I have one only for this purpose where all my novels end up) so that I won't lose anything important, since my computer is quite old, hehe. this works well for me. I guess I should back up on a second place too, but I don't know where. Can anyone explain how google docs work?
     
  23. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    I put everything in one Word document, which I save/update (say) every 30 min or so. Each time I upgrade the version number. So "title_r001.doc", next safe is "title_r002.doc", etc.

    Note and background information I save separately in a folder called BG_Info.

    Chapters - I number/title as appropriate, giving them a Heading style, enabling an automatic ToC. This is for internal purposes (the ToC is hyperlinked) so I can swiftly leap to the relevant chapter. [Note: if someone needs instructions how to do that, feel free to PM me]
    When submitting I remove the ToC, and change styles to the prescribed format.

    BTW, text blocks (paragraphs) can be moved in Word by Shift-Alt-UP/DOWN Arrow.

    If you c/p from a differently formatted document, Copy, Paste special and select Unformatted text. It then assumes the destination formatting.

    Oops - I'll better quit the Word crash course. Sorry, couldn't resist.
     
  24. James Scarborough
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    James Scarborough Member

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    As others have noted, one of the most important things is to save your work someplace other than on your hard drive to prevent loss in the event of a computer crash or accidental erasure.

    Some have mentioned Google Docs or an external storage device such as a memory stick. I use Dropbox, which is one of several online storage services. The thing I like about Dropbox is that it is totally automatic and it's free. I've set up a folder within my Dropbox account called "writing" and all of my work is contained in separate subfolders within this folder. The Dropbox program automatically uploads my work any time I change a file in any of the subfolders and I can access it from any computer or handheld device anywhere that I have an internet connection so I never have to worry about loosing my work or forgetting to upload or save it.

    As for my actual work files, I have three: (1) my writing journal, which is where my brainstorming and other general ideas and notes are saved; (2) my novel outline; and, (3) my draft novel. I work in Open Office Writer and save my work as .doc files. I don't create separate files for chapters. Everything goes into my draft novel file. Doc files aren't very big unless you add graphics to them and I've never had a problem with them freezing up or loading too slowly. Once I finish my first draft, I'll re-save a duplicate copy as "revised draft" without changing my first draft. All my revisions, editing and re-writes are done in the "revised draft" file and my first draft remains untouched, in case I decide I want to go back to it in its original version.

    It's a simple system but it works for me.
     
  25. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    James:
    Instead of Dropbox, FWIW, you can create a gmail account and send yourself emails with versions attached. It can contain up to 2GB of data. Advanatge is further that you can access your data from anywhere, so if you are travelling you can still work on the book. But don't forget version numbers. Each time overwriting doesn't give you any back-up. And you know what they say: there are two kinds of people, people who back-up regularly and people who wished they had....
     

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