Though I pants more than I plot, this year for NaNo, I’m very organized.
Much more than last year. Last year, I went in with a very small idea and a pair of characters. The result was not pretty, not even for a NaNo novel. Writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days is no easy task. Maybe for some it is, but for most of us, I suspect it’s a bit daunting. Especially if you are new to NaNoWriMo.
The other day, author Lynn Veihl (of the Darkyn series), wrote a blog post about how she keeps a NaNo notebook.
It got me thinking of my own NaNo notebook, which I started just a month or so ago. A NaNo notebook is nothing more than a tool used to keep NaNo thoughts organized. There are many ways to organize these notebooks and many sections they can include. Veihl seems to prefer using an old school binder, pen and paper.
Since I shy away from paper and pen (my hand writing is atrocious more often than not), my notebook is digital. I prefer to use One Note, a program that comes with MS Office packages. One Note is really just a digital binder that saves on its own, which is nice — especially if you forget to save.
I have a different One Note notebook for each story idea. Within each notebook, the top tabs are the most basic: Mock Cover, Characters, World Building, Plot Notes, Random Ideas. And within each of those tabs, I get more specific: Characters — new tabs for each character. World Building — lore, history, places, etc.
Some tabs have a lot of information, while other tabs only have a sentence or two. Different things work. Here is a sample of how one of my One Note notebooks works:
Sorry if it’s large! But you get the idea, now, of how I organize things.
One of the features in One Note I like is the check list:
I’ve played around with Page Four, and it’s pretty nifty. The only reason I don’t use it is because I’m already so organized in One Note. However, Page Four allows you to not only organize your wip, but you can also write it within the program too.
I don’t write my stories in One Note, I prefer to use MS Word for that, and I keep a Document folder titled “Writing” and within that, each WIP has it’s own folder.
There is also a program called Super NoteCard. Some people like using this. I don’t find it helpful, but I can certainly see how others might find it helpful. This is another free program for writers.
Liquid Story Binder XE, is another great program. However, it is not free. I tried the Demo, and though it was a bit confusing to get the hang of, it’s definitely a good program. It just wasn’t good enough (for me) to buy it. Doesn’t help that I’m a broke college student either.
Sometimes, however, I need a mapping program to keep family trees/species straight. This is especially crucial for my fantasies, which typically have a large cast of characters and larger family trees. For this, I like to use Free Mind, a free mapping software. I don’t use it often, but it does help when I do use it.
Again, these are only the methods that work for me. My notes tend to be small, even when I plan, because I still like the adventure of writing by the seat of my pants.
There are probably even more programs out there that I have not touched on or mentioned. Best way to find these programs? Ask around. Twitter is a great source for asking writers and authors what they use to keep organized. So are the NaNoWriMo forums.
If you’re thinking you need some organization and NaNo prepping, now is the time to discover the methods that work for you. There are only 17 more days until NaNoWriMo officially begins!
What are your favorite methods for organzing wips and prepping for NaNo?
3/11/11 ETA: Scrivner has a beta for Windows, that I tinker around with. I like it, though it takes some getting used to. Also, I’m actually a lot more organized in OneNote now, so I’ll probably do a follow up post on OneNote organization soon.