I don’t know if my brain’s flagging, but sorting out the plot of my next mystery has felt like wrestling an octopus. I normally enter a series of pivotal events into Excel, but this time that didn’t do the trick.
I started casting around for software that might help, and realised I ought to explore what was already on my laptop before going on a spending spree. Microsoft OneNote had been sitting there quietly, unused, so I decided to investigate its workings. I proceeded to have a lovely time, creating a notebook, and then setting up tabs for overall structure, list of characters, plot and various relevant web clippings I’d collected.
So here’s how I found the program helpful:
- Research: OneNote has a screen clipping facility, so you can isolate just what you want from a webpage, and paste it in.
- Plotting: The programme lets you set up multiple pages within a tab, and you can easily click between them as they’re displayed all the time in a menu down the right hand side of the screen. I used this to separate out the different parts of my story – beginning, middle and end. Then, on any given page, you can make multiple notes, anywhere you like. Each one comes as a distinct block – a bit like a digital post-it note. The blocks can be dragged around – great for changing the order of events. You can also tag each note, using customised labels if you want. For instance, you can create tags to indicate the point of view you want to use for a given section.
- Keeping track: You can insert an Excel file if you want to record words completed in the WIP so far, or plan how long you think each section will be. You can also use the page templates to insert a “to do” list if that’s useful. And finally (in my current, limited experience) you can insert or attach emails that are relevant to the project, or any other document you fancy.
So, all in all, I feel I’ve managed to get all those story tentacles in order. At the moment I’m busy writing blog posts in support of my current release, You Think You Know Me, but after that I’ll immerse myself in my weird cat pictures again… Happy days.