DIY Writer’s Organization Program, Pt. 3



If you can’t organize your work without a hand-holding program, I have to think that somewhere along the line your training missed the creation and use of folders and sub-folders.

Anything you put on your desktop is actually going on your main drive. If you only have one, nothing to talk about. I frequently run three drives, one just for my mp3 music library.

In modern systems, opening the drive then requires you to open Users, and open your file, then open something like Documents before you get near an actual document. If so many steps annoy you, then just make a folder on your desktop for your project.

If you are using thumb drives, make a folder in there at the top level.

“Making a Folder” usually involves going to the top of the no-programs screen, the desktop or Finder, and tapping “File.” In it, you should see “New Folder.” On Windows, you go down to the Start menu and open it up.

Label the folder with a simple but distinct name. “Book” may be a bit generic. Really, a book deserves a title of some kind, or it looks unloved. The name of the main character, the main antagonist, or an important place will do. Maybe this, your top folder, will be “NaNoWriMo2013” in honour of when you start it.

While you’re at it, make a top-level folder called “Writing Office.” This is where you accumulate all the files pertinant to getting your work out to an audience in some fashion. I really hope you’ll need it.

Right here, you have the means to implement Feature C, “Finding everything in one place.” Absolutely everything to do with this project, that we will call “Chiller,” gets put in this folder. If your program won’t co-operate, just save to the desktop and drag-and-drop it into the folder later.

Open this folder by double-clicking on it. This should open a whole window full of nothing. In this window, create, using “New Folder,” a few sub-folders, like —
•    Old Versions
•    Graphics
•    Notes
•    HTML

Keep old versions: you may decide you want that scene or subplot back three versions on. “Graphics,” of course, is where you keep pictorial reference, from maps to scenic views to “This is what my lead character looks like.” “Notes,” of course, is all the stuff you compile from various research sources. I often find it pays to have one honkin’ big word-processing file, “Notes,” to hold all the notes. If I want to look up, say, “calling cards,” I use Search to find each mention. Even so, I may wind up with bits and pieces in the Notes folder, besides the Notes file, including plotting work done back and forth in emails with a pal.

HTML is where I keep the web-pages I build to organize information, especially for detailed historical settings. If I build a page for a character, I can link to the pages of its friends and enemies, and the pages of places it hangs out.

Having a more advanced program than you get in a browser or word-processor, if I have to reconstruct London in 1803, I can make a clickable map where I go closer to see neighborhoods until, in some cases, I click on individual street addresses to see the frontage and read about what’s inside, and include inside views if I have them. This is an extreme example of using HTML, but it let me see where places were in reference to each other. (The ability to manipulate graphics into hot-spots without strain is one reason I won’t tolerate an ops system that won’t let me use Page Mill.)

In a similar fashion, I organized way too many views of Los Angeles in the 1930s, from many sources, so in some cases I could virtually stand in one place and turn around to get the view in all directions from a certain intersection.

So for many of the functions where the fancy programs are calling information or jumping between bits, you can use HTML. It’s what hyper-text stacks are for, and I suspect the fancy programs are basically doing this.

You may or may not have a subfolder labelled “PDFs.” Some people don’t use them or haven’t accessed them as an information source. There are, of course, a zillion public domain books at Internet Archive ( in PDF. If you have historical settings, or semi-historical like steampunk or dieselpunk, you may want to collect all your books here.

If there is anything you go look up at Wikipedia, and you decide you want to keep it, if you have an account and you sign in, you can build a PDF for your project. Look down the left-hand boxes until you see —

Create a book
Download as PDF
Printable version

Click on “Create a book.” Follow their instructions, mess around with it, make mistakes and figure it out. Nothing gets lost. Basically, it lets you collect all the articles you can find on, say, butterflies and invertebrate biology and aeronautics and time-travel theories and hand-to-hand weapons — all important for Chiller — and turn them into a multi-page ebook. You can print this out and put the pages into sheet protectors in a binder, or leave them loose in an expandable file folder, or just Search it in a PDF reader (my preferred).

So collecting PDFs isn’t just about hundred-year-old cookbooks and Renaissance etiquette.

So let’s drag and drop all the visual reference you have to Graphics. You can leave it all in a heap there, or you can make another layer of subfolders like —
•    Butterflies
•    Weapons
•    Venice
•    Tucson

— just to keep things sorted but together.

Notice the basis of organization: grouping like things. You click more, but you lose much less. You can find things when you want them, because if you can’t find them, you don’t really have them.

Even my very limited netbook, Rosy, can do this much. If your computer lacks even these capabilities, yeah, you really do need to move up to the 1990s.

So now that you have a place for everything Chiller, drag all your relevant files into it.

Part 4

Start over at Part 1.

One response »

  1. Pingback: DIY Writer’s Organization Program, Pt. 2 | hollyiblogs

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