1. cuzzo
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    cuzzo New Member

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    Keeping Your Story Orgainzed as You Write

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by cuzzo, Oct 6, 2011.

    How do you keep your story organized as you write?

    One of my biggest problems is that I don't do a good enough job keeping backups of scenes that I revise.

    I think I'm going to start writing each scene in a separate document and then keeping each scene for the chapter inside a folder. Do any of you do anything like this?

    It's not the biggest deal in the world, but it always causes me problems.
     
  2. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Personally, I have individual chapters in separate files. When I begin to write a chapter I'll outline in bullet points basically what I'm going for in the chapter... and if there is a specific point I think of that I don't want to forget I'll give it it's own bullet point. I've never re-written an entire scene, but sometimes I'll re-write like a section of a chapter and if I do I'll always include both the old and new version with some way of distinguishing which is which (color, different font, w/t).
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not plugging this piece of software, but there is actually a program that does that, called YWriter.
    I personally like just writing one piece. I'm a little bit obsessive compulsive over the neatness of folders on my computer.
     
  4. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I use the folders on my computer, somewhat like a "My Documents" but I call it "My Books." Inside I branch out to folders of each individual book project I have running, and those in turn branch out to all of their elements (chapters, outline, characters, setting, etc.). Most of these folders are filled with notes on their topics, except the chapters folder. I also separate my chapters to individual files, so this folder contains all drafts of chapters. But it is layered. I have a folder inside it for first edits, and once I begin to edit a chapter, I copy it into that folder before making changes. Then, I do the same with second and third and fourth edits. After I'm satisfied with the edits, I transfer all the individual edited chapter files into one document and save that inside as the master file (inside its own folder, too). My system is a little tedious to set up, but not so difficult to use. In the end, I keep a copy of every draft written, and it remains neat and organized.
     
  5. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    My documents are always saved title, year, month, day for example, Embrace 2011.10.06

    Usually once a month I retitle my document with the current date. That saves backup copies of the MS for if I want to go back and grab a deleted scene or just laugh at what it used to look like.

    By putting the date - year, month, day they stay in date order with the most current always at the top of the list.
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure I see any need to keep backups of stuff that's been rewritten/revised/edited. Of course, I edit as I go, so maybe there's the difference. I keep a list of characters, which chapter they first appear in - and a list of places and their respective chapters. Oh, and an 'idea file' for stuff, which includes stuff I cut but still like. Otherwise, my pc is too cluttered up already... :p
     
  7. Marranda
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    Marranda Senior Member

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    I have three different timelines- one for the characters, one for the plot, and one that blends the two together. I use it as a visual if/when I introduce a new character or plot twist, so they stay aligned. Having separate ones just helps me while writing, and depending on which aspect I'm working on, as a visual aid.

    I also keep a character journal on each major character, where I put their individual story/history timelines, and notes on where I want the character to go, where in the story I want them to end up, etc.

    Each time I add more to the character journal, timelines, and what I already have, I save it in a new document with the same title but with a 2.0 or 3.0, x.0 depending on the revision number. But I don't keep things separated into chapters. I just write until I find a good stopping point, save, and open a new document to begin the next segment-- but nothing is saved in 'chapters'.
     
  8. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    I have separate folders for each chapter, short story, poem, all sorted into respective folders. I then have backups in an online storage system as well as backed up to CD and ZIP disk. I am miserly about what I throw away, cutting chunks out of one draft and storing it elsewhere, with the premise that maybe, with some tweaks, it can be recycled in another project, or fixed up and reinserted somewhere else where it originated from.
     
  9. slurpy_NinJa
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    slurpy_NinJa Member

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    I keep a list of characters, important locations, & events similar to a cast of characters section of a theatrical play(or many Star Wars EU novels). Most of my brainstorming ideas are kept in notebooks and then as I write I draw from all of these avenues and go from there.

    Hope this helps! :D
     
  10. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    You can do this wtih Track Changes in MS Word. It's automatic.
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not very organized, I keep my novels, finished and ongoing, in separate folders in the My documents with the subtitle My novels, there I have all the previous versions of the novel in question, but I have the entire novel in one text document, all the chapters together one after another. I don't use to do character bios, it's all in my head, I don't feel the need to keep that written. After a days work I always save the latest version of the document on my USB thumb drive, something I started with when my old computer were showing signs of giving up soon, and now I'm pretty compulsive about it) but I don't keep old versions of them except for the ones in the document on the computer.
     
  12. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I keep it in one large document with each chapter title/number being set as a heading. There is a list of headings on the left-hand side of the screen and all I have to do is click on the one I want to automatically go to that chapter. I do the same for outlines + character notes (they're all kept it one file) and second/third/etc drafts. I find it easier to keep all of the information in as few files as possible (with back-ups, of course) than to have to scattered across many.
     
  13. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    I save all my files in one folder and create an index document. Then I use hyperlinks to make easy links to each chapter which I save as a 4-digit code.

    cb01 - Character Brainstorming 01
    sb01 - Story Brainstorming 01
    sc01 - Story Chapter 01

    I have an intro written for each one, to introduce what happens before and after this event.

    I'm a tad hyperorganized, but I have the time.
     
  14. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    Tried to multi-quote but not working.

    Shadowwalker: I can see keeping one previous rewrite maybe more if unsure how the rewrite will go. But it also clutters the files when you get to many.

    Lostinwebspace: I have considered using track changes, but haven't yet.

    If I rewrite, I usually read from the point of the rewrite until I get to the end, just to make sure something written before the rewrite doesn't contradict with something after.
    I try to restrict rewrites until I have to do them or during editting for this reason.
     
  15. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have an automatic backup every time I save a text file, so I typically will keep that until I know the new version is the way I want to go, and/or if there are parts of the old version I may want to use later and need to copy/paste them to my notes file. I usually think things through pretty carefully before I move to something new, though, so it's very seldom I need to keep anything more than a day.
     
  16. Manic Writer
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    Manic Writer Member

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    I am trying out a piece of software called "Writer's Blocks" (website www.writersblocks.com ).

    At $149 it's a tad expensive but you can get a 21 day free trial to see if it works for you. Has anyone else tried this particular piece of software?
     
  17. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    how does it work?
     
  18. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I hand write all my ideas and lore into a sketch pad that I leave right in front of me at all times as I write.
     
  19. TheWritingWriter
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    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    I keep a general writing folder. Each novel has its own folder within the writing folder and each chapter has its own folder within that novel folder. When I back up my writing I back up the general writing folder.
     
  20. Manic Writer
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    Manic Writer Member

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    You can go to their website to get an overview but the general idea is that they provide "blocks" (hence the product name) into which you can type your ideas, thoughts, whatever you want. You can colour code the blocks to represent anything you want and you can add footnotes. Then you can organize the blocks into "columns" which can be chapters or anything you choose. You can drag and drop boxes, cut or copy and paste boxes, link boxes, transform boxes into a manuscript. There is even a facility (which I am not currently using) to transform your boxes into an "official" screenplay format.

    I think of it as primarily an "Idea Catcher". I find having to hold the detail of the entire novel in my head is well nigh impossible to achieve and I have severe concentration and focus problems so I think this product may well be of benefit to me.
     
  21. Manic Writer
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    Manic Writer Member

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    You can go to their website to get an overview but the general idea is that they provide "blocks" (hence the product name) into which you can type your ideas, thoughts, whatever you want. You can colour code the blocks to represent anything you want and you can add footnotes. Then you can organize the blocks into "columns" which can be chapters or anything you choose. You can drag and drop boxes, cut or copy and paste boxes, link boxes, transform boxes into a manuscript. There is even a facility (which I am not currently using) to transform your boxes into an "official" screenplay format.

    I think of it as primarily an "Idea Catcher". I find having to hold the detail of the entire novel in my head is well nigh impossible to achieve and I have severe concentration and focus problems so I think this product may well be of benefit to me.
     
  22. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    The more I read of how people organize, the more it seems there's more time spent on organizing than there is on writing. But I guess I'm still not seeing the benefits. :confused:
     
  23. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    The benefits for me, at least, while I am writing a series is to have a "bible" of sorts so I do not contradict myself as I write. Having all of my lore and history and ideas jotted down on paper for easy access helps immensely. And it takes no time at all to add another entry, you can go as fast as you can hand write. To answer the inevitable "Why don't you just type it?" question, I hand write it before I add it to my story so it seers into my brain better.


    Edit: I am not saying I hand write my entire book, just the ideas that go in my sketch pad.
     
  24. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find it's a nice thing to put down my notes of the story and the characters in a notebook, handwriting is something I really like, and I can carry my notebook in the purse when I'm away from home. It's so much fun to write down the notes and ideas by hand the old fashioned way :D gives a totally different feeling. When I first started writing there were no computers and I did all my writing by hand, and there's something in writing that way that stimulates the creativeness.
     
  25. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Had a very nice reply and lost it :mad:

    Anyway, the gist of it was, I can see keeping notes for a series, since there are continuity things to keep track of. But if ones writes like I do (no outline), stickies on the wall suffice. I either use them or don't and then it gets trashed. If one outlines, notes could be tacked into the outline. Ideas for new stuff either get typed up and tossed in a computer file (Called "Ideas") or emailed to me (again going into a folder called "Ideas"). Otherwise, it just seems to be very time-consuming and complicated, worrying about dates and titles and color-coding and referencing etc etc.
     

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