There are many methods that writers use to keep track of their story information and research materials. Each of us must decide what works best for us. Some people use filing cabinets and files. Others use notebook systems. And still others keep track of everything strictly on the computer and with disks of some kind. Whatever method you use, be sure to back-up, back-up, back-up, and don’t store the back-ups in the same location. I’ve heard many horror stories about failed flash drives, scratched CDs, damaged hard drives (external or internal), and no printed copies of the manuscript to recreate the project. Personally, I back-up on my office computer, my laptop, an external hard drive, and two flash drives. Paranoid? You bet.
My article today is on Creating a Writing Project Notebook, which I strongly recommend. A notebook can be taken with you to work at various locations and is an easy method of keeping track of everything related to a certain project. I’m talking about everything from the plotting items, the research materials, printed copies of the synopsis, query letters, and the chapters. I also recommend having a business section to keep track of the project after it is completed and submitted.
As part of the Plotting Items, I suggest using a character grid of some kind, having a basic character contrast chart, and a spreadsheet to track the storyline progression. I use basic templates for these items and modify them to fit the project.
I am adding the Creating a Writing Project Notebook article, the Character Grid template and the Story Progression & Outline template to My Writing Tips on this blog. They are also included in my Writing Tools on my website.