Notebooks, Apps, Programs and How You Prep to Write

If you’ve spent any time reading up on other writers and how they manage their work, you probably have an idea of how to arrange, organize, manage the elements that are involved.

Certainly, it is easier to manage a short story––although it is more difficult to write a good short story than a novel––than it is to manage the elements of a novel. You might write a short story quite quickly, a short enough time period to be able to remember all the parts in your head; however, a novel, which extends over vast pages and time frames, character arcs and so on, it is easy to get lost.

A famous ball pen drawn grid from author JK Rowling, shows how she plotted the elements for her Harry Potter books, using each box to capture relevant information that she could then use as reference in order to stay on track. Nice!

My problem is finding one thing that I can stay with, given the plethora of apps, programs and other tools. I prefer notebooks, but find that I always carry one with me, often jotting down odd things without a set format—more a free flow thought palace.

There are many apps that will help you to arrange things, including the very popular Scrivener app that will allow you to have all your notes, imagery, scratchings and more, all in folders, apart from the main writing area. At the end it compiles for you. And voila….

I have Scrivener, but find that I have to have my thoughts immediately handy, with me at all times, even when there are no electronic devices with me. But that’s just me. I know authors who write their points on Post-It notes and stick them on a wall or mirror, moving them as needed. I tried that once; but my wife was not so impressed, especially when a few would peel off and wind up on a floor, later vacuumed up––gone!

And then there are the choices of notebooks available. I collect fountain pens. I also find that, just as my mood changes for the pen of the day; so to does my notebook choice. Something small, but not too small. I used to like the cheap notebooks used at schools everywhere, but found that certain brands absorbed my fountain pen ink into blotchy messes. I tried small pocket-sized notebooks, but find that I have to write small to they everything to fit; quite annoying and also not conducive to fountain pens.

Barnes & Nobles offers a variety of hand-crafted leather notebooks, some with leather strip-ties you wrap around; all too fancy and pricey for the scribblings I have. I certainly don’t want something that says WRITER across it. Too amateurish.

These days I use a 5×8 hard cover notebook. These are available anywhere for a decent price. With a hundred plus pages there is a lot of room for whatever I wish to write. I segment the book, find the mid-seam and use that as a natural book break. I can scribble pieces of the story there. So far it works.

As for plotting, I still like index cards, each numbered in order (and renumbered when the order changes.) I can keep them with me, elastic band-wrapped. No pencil – just fountain pen with redundant items single-line deleted. It’s neat, ordered and works for me.

What works for you? Let me know if you have any good ideas that you’ve found works.

And don’t forget to submit short stories to B&P Magazine – we do pay for the stories we accept. Click the SUBMIT tab for more information and guidelines.

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1 Comment

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