Thursday, June 11, 2009

Note to Self

Writing longer stories necessitates keeping track of all the details, from characters to timelines. Shorter stories are much easier to scroll back or even just to remember since they are focused and only include a few things.

My memory is less than stellar. I'd like to blame it on such a busy schedule, one that requires me to shift gears several times during the day. I can't rule out a genetic component, though.

So, I make notes to myself to keep track of names, characters, appearances, details, even what those characters know (vs. what they said they knew). Notes on what Bo should later do with information from Bill or who she should talk to next after the current scene.

But where to put these notes? How and where to write them? Increasingly, I've moved to putting more and more on the computer. The digital form is less chaotic and much easier to keep track of. But there are certainly limitations to the digital form. Such as switching between windows while I'm working. Call me quirky (because I am) but it's just easier to jot a note into a notebook in the midst of working on a piece on the computer.

But, most of my notes are on the computer. It's a little technical, a little convoluted, and sadly, only mostly helpful. I'm not entirely satisfied with the system. Perhaps because it's completely haphazard!

I use the Comments feature in Word (Insert--> Comments) to make notes to myself. Since I have Word2003 (and 2007) the comments show up in ballons in the margin. It monkeys with my page layout at little, but it's quite a workable solution. Except one thing-- the text gets awful small.

I type up notes to myself on the bottom of the WIP. Since I work linearly, this is usually directly after the last thing I am typing.

My new attempt at organzing the timeline is to use a new Style. I use the Document Map (LOVE!) for my chapters. That box hides styles. Any heading style shows up in the document map. So, if I apply a new style, I can put MONDAY AM in my Document Map, allowing me to see, at once, when the days change and what day X happened.

Techincal stuff: Doc. Map is View--> Document Map. To apply a style, select the text and find the two little AAs. Styles is fun and oh, so useful!

No, I don't spend more time tweaking my writing process than writing. Not overall... but some days. What? How do YOU put off writing? ;-)


Travis Erwin said...

Work seems to be the biggest detriment to my writing. if only they'd pay me to stay home and write.

Barbara Martin said...

When I'm between jobs I can write more fiction, but now I have committed myself to writing non-fiction articles for an on-line site and more book reviews that will take a chunk out of my available time.

Though now I have made up a timetable of when I work on what, and told myself 'no excuses'.