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Author Topic: How to be organised when writing your story?  (Read 383 times)

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Offline suuper-san

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How to be organised when writing your story?
« on: July 30, 2019, 12:07:47 PM »
I'm nearly at the point of writing a story (I mean when have I ever not been but yeah)
And I'm wondering if anyone has any tips or methods for keeping track of your world, characters and plot as you write and develop your story, as it seems a rather large thing and I can't wrap my head around it :P

Especially for a manga which is visual you'll want to have character references and sketches and manga page sketches, and for any sort of writing, you'll want to have chapter scripts and location references and so on. I can imagine it's easy enough to keep your story/script all in one word document with headers for each chapter or something, but then before writing that where do you put an idea/chapter plot description? Do you use multiple files, how many, basically, what?

I get the use of timelines to keep track of events (like Robin's flowchart timeline) but I'm more asking how do you organize everything, do you have a list of characters somewhere, are their character image/expression sheets in the same place, how do you find a character quickly/easily to add information or check something? And is it all in one folder on your computer or do you have it printed out?

Being the unstoppable programmer that I am, I'm thinking of making a sort of mini-wiki program (yes i know they exist already, for this exact purpose, but I like making my own stuff to suit my exact needs), to keep all my files and characters and info and plot all in one organised place, and be able to quickly navigate between it all.

So in addition to wondering how you guys keep organised already, I'm wondering if I did make such a wiki-program, what you would expect to see in it and what capabilities would you expect it to have?
« Last Edit: July 30, 2019, 01:23:01 PM by suuper-san »
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Offline legomaestro

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2019, 05:18:50 PM »
There was a time I had this problem and I was looking for a writing software that did the trick for me, but I found myself going the opposite direction overtime: The less clutter I had the better I was at producing a story. I ended up from using and lovign Microsoft Word and other word processors with extra features to using wordpad, which was also a parallel to me using microsoft paint in the end. Simplicity and streamlining is what does it for me.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't love the hell out of a wiki, though. I should probably make one for stories I like haha.

So what I would want in such a software

1- linking abilities. This is the selling point of any wiki, finding a word that is highlighted that'll lead to another page.

2- Chapter outlines . This is the best perspective a writer can view their finished product in. It has nothing to do with how good the story is or characterisation but it does a good job of forcing the writer to know what the plan is for



But to be honest I subscribe to a more loose style of storytelling. I believe that so long as you have raw materials it's impossible for a story not to take place. I think Umberto Eco said this: As soon as you read 'There was a fisherman by the lake' You already have a story developing. Is the fisherman fishing? Is he not? Why not? Why yes? Is he hungry? Is he alone? What does the lake look like? What time of day is it?

I basically 'feel out' my stories rather than plan them through and through. But it's very easy to see the disadvantages of this in relation to how my drawings turn out: Without structure you don't have a reliable amount of accuracy. People love to notice inconsistencies and obvious things like forgetting where a character was in time or place throw off a reader badly.

That being said I think you should definitely write a story with your level of organization in mind. Also, because you're also training your art you should consider making imagery to fill up your 'wiki' or software to give you the practice in thumbnails and the like.



I'm dreaming of an awesome story pitch where you let potential readers navigate your wiki to see if they're interested in the narrative. That'd be pretty cool (spoiler-y, but cool.)

Offline suuper-san

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2019, 06:13:21 PM »
Yeah so far I've mostly just used Word and Notepad to be honest to jot things down, but for me personally I need the OCD structure because I lack in creativity.

My working with WIPs art-wise proved that I can take a concept and improve it, but only if the concept is there in the first place. I can't make a good idea out of nothing, but I can make a bad idea out of nothing, and improve that until it becomes a good idea.
So my thinking is that for writing a story, I need a similar way of working, having a bunch of ideas as WIPs and keep processing them, adding details and filling them out until a story is born.
(I've already got a bunch of one-liner plot ideas that I want to develop further)

Linking was certainly a point that stood out to me, theres no point being able to store all your data in one place if you can't navigate it your own way.

I guess a chapter outline is to a script what a sketch is to a lineart? most of the details but none of the accuracy. I'll definitely be adding that sort of thing.

Quote
People love to notice inconsistencies and obvious things like forgetting where a character was in time or place throw off a reader badly.
That's partly the reason I'm trying to get a decent system, I'm trying to eliminate those sort of problems or at least keep them to a minimum.

Quote
I'm dreaming of an awesome story pitch where you let potential readers navigate your wiki to see if they're interested in the narrative. That'd be pretty cool (spoiler-y, but cool.)
That sounds kinda like an ultimate version of WalterB's choose your own adventure :P
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Offline Vikings1428

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2019, 10:30:56 PM »
I'm nearly at the point of writing a story (I mean when have I ever not been but yeah)
And I'm wondering if anyone has any tips or methods for keeping track of your world, characters and plot as you write and develop your story, as it seems a rather large thing and I can't wrap my head around it :P

Especially for a manga which is visual you'll want to have character references and sketches and manga page sketches, and for any sort of writing, you'll want to have chapter scripts and location references and so on. I can imagine it's easy enough to keep your story/script all in one word document with headers for each chapter or something, but then before writing that where do you put an idea/chapter plot description? Do you use multiple files, how many, basically, what?

I get the use of timelines to keep track of events (like Robin's flowchart timeline) but I'm more asking how do you organize everything, do you have a list of characters somewhere, are their character image/expression sheets in the same place, how do you find a character quickly/easily to add information or check something? And is it all in one folder on your computer or do you have it printed out?

Being the unstoppable programmer that I am, I'm thinking of making a sort of mini-wiki program (yes i know they exist already, for this exact purpose, but I like making my own stuff to suit my exact needs), to keep all my files and characters and info and plot all in one organised place, and be able to quickly navigate between it all.

So in addition to wondering how you guys keep organised already, I'm wondering if I did make such a wiki-program, what you would expect to see in it and what capabilities would you expect it to have?

what I do for organization, I usually keep a notes document, as well as a bunch of other documents that pertain to my story. For Example, I would have a document with all Characters and descriptions of character in one, a Powers list in another (and I sometimes put powers that I would like to see and may fit it into a character I create later on) and the notes doc is mainly for notes and plotting for the story before writing the dialogue and scripts out.

Offline suuper-san

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2019, 08:47:40 AM »
a wishlist file is a nice idea because you don't want top mix up ideas that you've definitely decided on and ideas that are just floating around. I'm definitely thinking that I want to have a bunch of files, one for each type of thing.
Even vehicles or buildings might need their own file if they come up a lot and you want to keep the consistency.
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Offline Vikings1428

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2019, 03:05:35 PM »
a wishlist file is a nice idea because you don't want top mix up ideas that you've definitely decided on and ideas that are just floating around. I'm definitely thinking that I want to have a bunch of files, one for each type of thing.
Even vehicles or buildings might need their own file if they come up a lot and you want to keep the consistency.
yeah, basically a ton of organization into plotting out the story and the world behind it, as well as the characters, power systems, etc.

Offline Coryn

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2019, 10:53:49 PM »
File structure, file structure, file structure. It's the same with organizing a story as it is organizing a building design. If you can sort out your files in a way that flows logically, then you won't spend time thinking about where to put things or where to find them. If something doesn't exist in the place you know it only could be, then it isn't there.

For instance, the top level might be Art and Story, just split things in half right there. Art might them become Characters, Landscapes, Buildings, Pages, etc. Within each you go to Reference Images, Rough Sketches, Line Art, Finished Drawings, etc. And you can see how this goes. Bonus points if whatever format you're using allows you to couple notes with an individual file. If not you can safe a text file with the same name as the file with your notes, so they get sorted. Ext to each other.

Additionally, if dates are important, date the damn thing! Preferably with the date up front such that the files get sorted chronologically when sorting by name.

As far as keeping the story together itself, it's very much the same thing on the file side. You seem to be getting an idea together already. But know you have got to have a skeleton. Descending bullet points, a legend, a little blurb about what happens as you go along, whatever works for you. The important thing is that you are able to swap things around in a timeline sense without having to refigure out your formatting. Once an entry is made into your skeleton, it should function as an independent Lego that you can move around.

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Offline suuper-san

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2019, 10:33:35 AM »
thats some sound advice, and it's given me a couple more ideas to work with

Quote
If not you can safe a text file with the same name as the file with your notes, so they get sorted. Ext to each other.
This is actually a pretty decent idea for it's simplicity, I did wonder if using shortcuts to folders would work, as then the information can be in one place but linked to in several other places, and editing it always changes the original and I don't have to update, heaven forbid, copies. I'm thinking I might go with something simple like that for starters before I try anything custom built, as I don't even know what I want yet XD

for keeping things in order filename-wise, I have sometimes had a filename prefixed with numbers, and use it like a library index like so:
"1000 - Chapter 1"
"2000 - Chapter 2"
then I can put in a file with "1500-" and it will sort in between without having to rename the other files. The numbers become a bit irrelevant, but it's quick and dirty for early stage planning (I don't really like this method though haha).

Quote
The important thing is that you are able to swap things around in a timeline sense without having to refigure out your formatting. Once an entry is made into your skeleton, it should function as an independent Lego that you can move around.
Yes, being able to edit and move around stuff is probably the hardest element to keep organised if your method isn't bullet proof.

I'll eventually be doing some one-shots so it'll give me a chance to try out a method on a short story, and hopefully I will get the feel for how it would be for a longer story. Worst case scenario, I start a long story, don't like my method, and have to spend a few hours reformatting to a new format, which isn't really an issue, just a waste of time.
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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2019, 10:22:33 PM »
Yeah, and really my one concern I have with links is that while they sound nice in theory, as soon as you change something, the link breaks and you have to reformat everything that contains that link. Keeping a set and organized file structure keeps that from happening, even if it is slightly less convenient on the operating end.

As with any system, the more complexity you add, the easier it becomes to break it.

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Offline NamNamStudio

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2019, 01:10:26 PM »
I'm working on a pretty long story myself, the way i organize my story is a little messy but what i did first was come up with the characters and their role or purpose. After i came up with their personalities. Once i came up with the main characters and how their connection with one another is and each's personality, i created a separate notes file and came up with the world they live in. I do a lot of research when writing to help me come up with how large some cities and empires should be. I also come up with the current problem with the world and how each separate empire/city/countries culture and what to base them off of. Sometimes this can be easy depending the story you are writing you may only need to do this for the city your story is taking place in. After i come up with the world my characters are living in, I create another notes to come up with what their purpose in it is and why they are the main characters. again if you already have your idea this can be easy honestly. From their i create a separate notes  to write out the ending. I know its a little weird to work from the ending but i always find it easier when writing because you know what the final goal is. You don't need to completely finish the ending, it should just serve as something that helps you understand how strong you want your character(s) or the direction you want to lead into. It also helps you understand they type of development that you might want your characters to go through. From there i create another notes and list out the things my character will go through. (ex: Stats his day as normal. Gets kidnapped by an organization. Finds out he is a rare type of human. Awakens his powers. Fights an evil oganization. Meets so and so. Loses someone close. Enters the final arc notes.) This is is how i organize my ideas. Then i just create separate folders and notes on the arcs and the chapters within the arc.

Offline suuper-san

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2019, 01:38:17 PM »
awesome, that doesn't sound messy at all to be honest :)
I also like working from the end of a story, although I haven't really gotten into proper story writing yet :P
It's almost like you start with one-liner descriptions for everything, then make a section of notes for each subject which you go into more detail, and then repeat with more detail again. I like the idea of increasing the depth/complexity by going over and over it and adding stuff, it's how I do my art :P
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Offline NamNamStudio

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2019, 02:20:27 PM »
that's exactly how I look at it. I draw myself so its like when you start off with the body structure. You know what the final product is gonna be so all you need to do is add the detail and stay within your guide. Even if you decide to change something as long as it fits within the structure it shouldn't become too much of a mess. what kind of a story do you plan on writing?

Offline suuper-san

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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2019, 04:20:40 PM »
I'm planning on some sort of fantasy but I'll probably explore different genres. I want to try out a shoujo story as well because the art is so different, slice-of-life, comedy, everything haha.
mostly I'm planning on writing a bunch of one shot scripts - an Isekai-genre (ie Konosuba), a stuck-in-the-game-genre (ie SAO), medieval fantasy (ie 7 Deadly sins), amongst many, many, others. Basically one of each genre to see what's best for me, and then probably try writing a short (5-10 chapter) manga in that genre.
it sounds like a lot, because it actually is.... XD
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Re: How to be organised when writing your story?
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2019, 04:28:12 PM »
haha i definitely understand the feeling, right now im working on finishing my main manga at the moment, then i plan on doing pretty much every genre myself hahahah. i definitely understand how hard it can be to choose what to write. i always loved mythology so i just decided to put my own spin on it. when you read my main manga youll see a lot of greek mythology as well as other mythologies. i always tell my friends who also write to just start with what you find most interesting or something you really like.