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Keeping the ideas organised has always been a perilous step for writers. It is very important yet only some know the right way to do it.
Done in the correct way, it can be your best writing buddy.
So what if someone told you the correct way to do it at the beginning of your writing journey?
Imagine the troubles you’d be saved of.
But even if you had been writing for some years, it’s never too late to learn something new.
You are at an advantage because now your first draft would be consistent, your editing would be smooth and your readers would be happy.
Why should you write everything?
What if you are writing an action scene and you forget your character knew Kung-Fu, not Karate?
Or if your protagonist (the main character), had light brown eyes, not dark brown?
Sounds silly, right?
How could you forget such fundamental things about the character you created?
Yet… it is the mistake that haunts the career of all the writers alike, both amateur and professionals.
Readers won’t tolerate it, be it you or William Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the history of English Literature.
It is necessary to keep a track of every small detail somewhere.
You need to write down your theme, plot, character’s appearance, setting, character’s motives and everything to maintain the consistency of your world.
And only when a world is consistent can it attract the readers and keep them turning pages.
Why should you always keep a diary?
I always tell writers to keep a diary. In fact, it is the first step in my post “How to Write a Novel: 13 Steps Guide for Beginners!”
It doesn’t matter if it’s a physical diary or some note-taking apps. You just need to write everything down.
Sometimes the best ideas come to us when we are least expecting them so it is better to be always prepared.
With a diary, you can keep a track of everything happening around in your world while never losing out on ideas.
It’s a win-win situation for you.
Every detail would be in one place and you just need to keep referring to that diary next time you write instead of scratching your head trying to remember the small details.
When everything is already written, you just need to flip pages the next time you write that character or that setting instead of scrolling through your manuscript and finding the reference.
How to organise your diary?
Now you know you should always write everything down in a diary but what is the correct way to do it to avoid the mess and navigate through your diary easily?
I’m glad you asked because that is what I am going to talk about next.
1. Use the diary both ways
Using a diary both ways means you start writing from the front as well as the back of the diary.
When you use a diary both ways, you get the feel of two diaries in one.
The main advantage is that you can use one side (I prefer the front) to write the details that are solid or static.
By static, I mean details that are fixed and won’t change later.
For example, if my character has a bulldog in chapter 1 as a pet it would always be a bulldog later. It isn’t anything up for discussion.
With the static details on one side, the other side would be used for dynamic details that are open to change later.
Random ideas are covered under dynamic details as well because they can change anytime.
For example, while watching television, I get the thought to kill a character later on in the story by poison on a date, I would write it on the back.
It is a dynamic idea because I can change the details as my story progresses but at this time, I have planned it like this.
It is basically the outline of the story which is always changing as the story progresses.
For example, you could plan a happy ending while beginning the story but as it comes to the end, you want to plan a sequel and keep some questions hanging.
2. Divide sections
There are many kinds of solid or static details in a story. To keep them organised, you need to divide the diary into sections from the front side (which has static details).
For example, a theme is mostly just a one-page thing so I would create a section with the title “Theme” and leave two pages under that section.
And, if I have a manor in my story, I would create a section called Manor and write all its details on that page. I’d later leave that whole page assigned to it so that I can add the details as my story progresses.
Similarly, there would be sections like Manor, Forest, Hospital, Character A, Character B, Character C and such.
Don’t create sections like “Characters” and “Places” because you don’t know how many characters there would be in the story exactly or how many places.
3. Keep it to the point.
You don’t need to write complete sentences in the diary.
In fact, it is preferred to keep everything to the point.
For example, under Characters,
Don’t write “He has ocean blue eyes with messy black hair.”
“Eyes: Ocean blues
Hair: Messy black”
When everything is to the point, you erase the noise from the background. It gets decluttered and instantly ten times cleaner. When everything is neat and clean, navigating through the diary becomes easier.
You can do it!
Writing a novel can be overwhelming but done in the right way, can prove to be a pleasant experience.
Organising the ideas is one such step that can make the sacred journey of writing a novel a lot easier with little effort.
So whenever next time you are writing, don’t forget to keep a diary with you as I have one while writing this post.
It doesn’t always have to be a fancy diary. Even a plain notebook can do.
Let nothing hold you back!