I’m sure millions of book ideas are having a riot in your mind, bouncing like puppies at the pound. Well, every writer worth his or her salt does have sizzling ideas. The problem, however, is how to tame these ideas. In fact, it’s well-documented that the secret to whipping up a novel without much fuss is by keeping the story ideas organized. It isn’t going to be a walk in the park, either.
Luckily, these ten fabulous tips are poised to help you organize your book ideas without much hassle.
1. Keep an Idea Journal
I for one, always carry a notebook with me. Usually more than one, but they’re all for different things. Book ideas will pop into your head as you proceed with your writing. A journal is indispensable to keep a tab on these ideas. It could be a simple Word file or even an actual diary.
2. Create an Outline
Once you have all your essential book ideas, you ought to come up with a clear and succinct outline. Of course, prolific authors like Stephen King beg to differ, but you are not Stephen King! With the outline, you can fill in as much information as possible. Ensure that you have enough details for the first 10 or so chapters. A robust creative outlining tool can come in handy (personally, I love Microsoft Word – it’s simple and allows effortless copy-pasting).
3. Identify Major Scenes
Create a list of your book’s major scenes and sort them in order of significance. Start off only with must-have scenes then write them out. They can come in the form of quick sketches – nothing fancy, but ensure that you’ve the basics written. Once done, you can group the scenes based on where they’ll fall in the story, whether beginning scenes, middle or end. Note down scenes that introduce major characters.
4. Create a List of Point of View (POV) Characters
The rule of thumb is to create no more than 6 POV characters. Generate a short physical description and personality sketch for each POV character. Note down recurrent characters. This can be a great place to start. Or if you use Evernote grab Laura’s Character Templates. I use these ALL the time and I freaking love it. It’s awesome for when you get a character come to you instead of a scene.
5. Come up with a Timeline
You need to pace your plot with a clear timeline. Don’t forget to include milestones for each POV character.
6. Create Hit-Point List
Worried that you’d miss some plot-points? Use a hit-point list to keep your story on the course and foreshadowing scene in line.Keep your book organized with these tips! Click To Tweet
A lot of authors that I know have hidden secret boards relating to new ideas and plot bunnies that haven’t made the surface yet. If you’re getting snippets or you see a picture that sparks an idea, pin it to a secret board for later. Or, if you have an aesthetics board you want to share, make it public. I personally love seeing pictures that relate to your WIP’s.
8. Create a list of “Things to Fix”
When writing a novel, many mishaps can happen – misplaced character, foreshadowing scenes, and so on. There are two ways you can do this. One is to [insert these] as you go along while you are writing. For example, in the first draft of The Collective Book Two, I had a line that said [insert more about Jenny and Harvey] because I knew I needed to add more content about them. I just didn’t have the ideas yet. The second is to create a running list to keep a tab on these things to be fixed later. This can be done on a separate document.
9. Grab the Novel Portfolio
Yes, this is a little bit of self-promotion but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do right? One way I keep my ideas organized when writing a story is to keep track of all the little things that I put into the book. During my first ever read through of The Collective I noticed in three different chapters that Jenny had different colored hair. That is a tiny detail that could have caused A LOT of confusion for readers. Now with my Novel Portfolio I jot down those notes and when I’m stuck I just flick to the right page and that keeps everything consistent.
10. The Plot Bunny Catcher
If you’re signed up to my Novelista Library I have a resource in there specifically for book ideas. The ones that pop up when you’re in the middle of writing your current epic work in progress. As you might’ve guessed, it’s called the plot bunny catcher. You can read my post about it and grab a copy of the worksheet here.
These are just but a few tips to keep your story ideas sorted out. It’s nice to keep note of your POV characters, plot, and timeline.