Thursday, January 24, 2013

Writing 101: Writing Logistics

If you think it takes a lot of time trying to write a novel, try putting one together after it's been torn into fifteen to thirty different pieces. There's a lot more to being an author than turning out purple prose until your fingers bleed. You also need to pay attention to your writing logistics with every chapter and every book. Otherwise, you're going to get sucked into an undertow of time-wasting document-opening. I know, because for a long time I lived there.


Let's Talk About Documents

The few novels (and believe me, I'm using the term loosely here) that I ever wrote I completely screwed up. I gave each chapter a title, and wrote each one in a separate document. Naturally, I named those documents after the title of the chapter -- not by their numerical value. I'm sure you can imagine what sort of a nightmare this became any time I needed to access an element in the story, like if I wanted to re-read it in its actual order. I'm opening up documents, and getting frustrated....and wasting a ton of time I could've spent writing instead. 

Don't let this happen to you. I had to learn writing logistics the hard way, but now that I have I've got a system that works. Use mine, or come up with your own, but make sure you get it worked out before you write. Then, you won't end up plowing through bizarrely-named documents at the center of a disorganized mess.

First, make a folder for each book -- I'm talking about a separate folder for each. The folder should be the name of the book, or a stand-in name if you haven't titled the work yet. I'll use the main character's name, or a certain word I've associated with the book, as a stand-in. If it's a series, make a folder for the entire series and put each associated book folder inside.

Write the entire manuscript in a single document. I like to name mine manuscript, that keeps things simple, but it makes more sense to name it after the title of the book. Always save a second copy of the manuscript elsewhere on your hard drive, and back it up on a flash drive as well. 

Store all your resource materials for the book in the same folder. This might include your cast list, an outline, maps, notes, timelines, the blurb, whatever you've got. Give each one of these documents obvious names (like outline, map, notes, and so on) to make them easy to access. Back up a copy of the entire folder every time you make changes, so you don't run the risk of losing your work.

Find a simple, straightforward system for keeping your books stored on your hard drive. Writing logistics are pretty boring, but you need them to build a strong foundation for your craft...and to keep yourself from wasting a bunch of time you don't really have.

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2 comments:

  1. I've started writing my novels in one manuscript (i used to do chapters, but like you said, too confusing!) It's much easier to use the 'find' button if you're looking for something specific.

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  2. I completely agree. The find button and I are old friends.

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