January 19, 2011

document organization

[I feel like one of these days I'm going to skip a number and someone is going to freak out.]

Today's wisdom relates to technical things.

I'm not sure what word processor or other method of writing you use to transcribe your novel to digital/physical media, but I have a few ideas for document organization.

For those of you that use software like Scrivener, good for you. This article is pretty much useless for you.

For the rest of us...

Headings/Tabs are a writer's best friend.

In most word processors (in fact, I don't know of one that doesn't have this), you have the option of applying styles to your text. I do this to separate my writing into sections, usually by chapters, sometimes by scenes.

In Microsoft Word, under viewing options, you can elect to show a navigation pane. The navigation pane takes all your headings and organizes them in a sidebar. I use this for navigating between chapters quickly. You can also label your headings by scene descriptions.

OpenOffice.org Writer has a similar function (and it's free).

As for those of you who write in leather-bound, parchment-paged notebooks with feathered quills, you can do the same thing. Take a colored piece of paper, or one of those nifty Post-It tabs, and fasten it to the edge of the page where it sticks out when the journal is closed. I used to do this before I had a computer. You can write chapter titles or numbers, or scene descriptions, on these tabs, and then if you want to look over a particular scene or chapter, you can just flip to it. I also recommend that if you are handwriting, you should write double-spaced -- leaving a blank line between every written line -- and you should leave a few blank pages between chapters and scenes. That way, when you go back to edit your work, you can easily change or add words without having to write cramped, minuscule notes.

I didn't figure out note organization until my early weeks of college. Just thought I'd share.

Happy writing!

1 comment:

  1. I agree-- headings are wonderful!

    Also, I'm going to start keeping track so I can be the one who freaks out. ;)