First thing’s first: Organization is not the same for everyone! I cannot emphasize this enough. Just because Jimmy Joe hates flow charts, doesn’t mean that Billy Jean has to hate them too.

Types of Organization: Obviously there’s going to be some missed but these are just a few ways to help you organize your novel.

Flow Chart: Flow charts let you see what impacts what directly and see how it all ties together. It’s very visual and hands-on, it can be great for people who want to see the big picture all at once. Personally, I think it’s a lot to look at and a lot to keep up with, but that’s just me. If it works for you, great! If not, there are more things down the list.

Note Cards: Note cards are great for on-the-go people who want to keep everything with them. However, when they are constantly getting dragged everywhere, you run the risk of leaving them behind or mixing them up. I live in a two story house and going all the way from the top of the stairs to the bottom is a piece of string that has about 30+ note cards hanging from it. This way, I can see them all at once and can move them around as I see fit. I also color coded all the characters so I know exactly who is where in the story at just a glance. The only downside for me, is that I had to take pictures of it on my phone and if I want to rearrange something, I need to do it when I’m actually at home.

Power Point: If you’re more into virtual information than physical, making a power point of your story may be what does it for you. You can rearrange, delete pages, add pages, add sub-points, decorate the margins, whatever your heart desires. The downside to this one though is you can’t see the whole thing all at once (unless there’s a way to do that and I just don’t know about it). It’s great for frame-by-frame but for big picture, I don’t see it working as well.

Keeping a Journal: This is one of my favorite techniques! Almost everywhere I go, I carry a journal because digital notes just don’t resonate with me. My journal works to help me destress, flesh out ideas, and is an all around lifesaver. The downside is it can be awkward to carry or add extra weight to your bag depending on how heavy it is, or get lost in the bottom of your backpack if it’s one of the tiny ones. Regardless, I would say, if at all possible, carry a journal because there may come a time when your phone is dead or you don’t have wifi and the journal notes will be great to flip back to. It’s also great to flip through it in a few years and see what you were thinking when you added the entry.

Bullet Points: These are for kind of on-the-fly organizers. You can search in your document and see where you said something specifically but it doesn’t give you much in the way of big picture or showing you how it’s all connected. However you can add as much or as little as you want for each bullet point so you don’t have to worry about running out of room. You can also fill in your novel from the bullet points themselves or go around them and keep the bullet points as a kind of guide to remember what the point of the scene was.

These are just a few tips for organization, there are many more but these are what I figured I’d tell you for now. If I think of more I’ll make another post about it, but for now…

Peace out, my lovely literaries!
Mary M. Knutson

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