The Best of LHP–A List of Organizing Lists to Help You Write

Originally published by Rachel in May, this post superbly “lists” a few things that can get you started with your writing.

I am not normally a “list” person. I think the term to best describe my thought process is organized chaos.  I like to see the big picture and then explore the details, which ever details that come to mind or interest me the most first.  This has gotten me into trouble as you all can well imagine.  I go to the grocery store I need eggs, milk, butter and a few other odds and ends.  When I get home, I’ve bought even food to last me a week and a half but I have forgotten the butter!

I tend to have the same sort of problem when it comes to writing. I get caught up in the big picture or maybe even just one of the details that I forget other important things. So today I am going to give a list of organizational methods (I am not giving technical names, just sort of a list of ways I use or I have seen others use to keep themselves organized while they write their story/epic novel).

  1. The Outline – this method requires planning (something I lack).  I have several friends who write this way.  They start with the general idea and follow through  outlining events and or moments in the story that are key to the plot.  This outline becomes the backbone for their story.  This does not mean that you necessarily must have the ending in mind when you start your outline but an ending when you’re writing is always helpful.
  2. Mapping out Chronology – this looks and sounds a lot like outlining, but it’s not The Outline. You can Map the Chronology of your story at anytime, while the Outline is something is normally done at the beginning.  Mapping the chronology is a task that makes sure events are following as they should.  I have a difficult time with this one.  I just start writing what inspires me and then about half way through I realize either the events are happening too quickly or they have happened out of order.  In one particular story I knew the character, Denri, needed to get to a particular city.  However I wasn’t sure how she got there.  So, in a stroke of brilliance, I just started to write about her going to the city, how she felt and what was going through her mind.  This created several very involved flashbacks.  Now flashbacks are not bad in and of themselves – they can be very useful at times.  Nonetheless, I discovered as I wrote that I had to rework the chronology.  I needed to make the flashbacks part of the story and not just flashbacks and I needed more time in between events.  Mapping out Chronology is a good way to bring order back to a story and keep it heading in the right direction
  3. Character Files – If you are like me, you may have a plethora of characters and family connections that need to be sorted out.  I have found that OneNote is very helpful for storing all my information regarding my characters.  I have family trees, lists of occupations, and many other social/economical tidbits in this file. It is easy to forget characterizations and family structures particularly if there is any length of time in between writing.  Character files will also help to make sure that you remember what you have said and where you said something about a character.  OneNote, whenever you copy and paste something, will track the source document (did I mention how helpful OneNote has been for me?).
  4. World Building Files – Ok, so everything I said about Character Files applies to World Building Files.  I usually just have a OneNote file for each story I am working on and have different tabs and files with in the document to keep track of characters, world structure, and any other random bits of thoughts I have on the world or the story I am working on.

I know this is a short list, but as I said, I really don’t like lists.  But do you have any suggestions for ways to organize your thoughts and writing?

Happy Writing!


About LizzyBeth

There is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.

Posted on January 7, 2014, in Characters, Humor, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Plot, Rachel Burkholder, World Creation, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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