Thursday, August 26, 2010

Organization of the Fledgling Idea

In yesterday's post I briefly mentioned giving my short story its own project binder.  I promised I'd blog about that today, so here it is.

With each project, I start a new binder.  The binder undergoes many changes during the life cycle of a project.

In its infancy it is nothing more than a 3-ring binder (usually 1" though sometimes I go 1 1/2") full of loose paper.  (I prefer college-ruled but I'll take whatever's on hand.)  I use these loose pages to record any fleeting thought related to the project.

In the early days of Lodestar these pages were filled with snippets of conversations, questions my MC might ask as his world is turned on its ear, etc.  Title ideas were scribbled in the margins, character names scrawled across four or five lines as I scrambled to get them written in the dark.

After a while, the pages get shuffled around and put into loose categories.  History, mythology, characters, plotting, are just a few examples.  Sometimes there arise more specific sections.

As Lodestar development progressed, I bought dividers and imposed more order on the binder.  There's a section for research notes as there was much to be done.  I had to research the Air Force, NASA, astronomy, fencing, and archery.  Wikipedia articles, other things I'd found online, all of it went in this section.  There was a section for character bios and then all the mythology and history.

At a certain point the binder sometimes ceases to be useful.  With Oracles Promise I ended up with a portable file box full of background stuff on the book and the trilogy.  One hanging section was full of files on the 9 different kingdoms and empires that existed.  Another for research files.  (Names, internet research, possible crests and family symbols, etc.)  Characters comprised a third hanging section.  (I was up to about 14 characters that I had detailed bios on.)

Currently, there are 7 binders on my shelf.  6 are for novels and the seventh is for my four poetry collections I tinker with from time to time.

So, there you have it.  That's how I keep my projects organized and try to maintain some semblance of sanity in all the madness of world-building.


  1. Wow I'm sitting here in awe of what you do. This is such a great idea. I use binders when I've completed a first draft, I put the whole draft in with all the collages that helped me get to the completed portion. From there I post-it revise and then fix my revisions on my laptop.

    I think I might have to try your method though. Very organized, looks like my office will soon be filled with easy access to each one of my worlds, much easier to have it hands on in a binder than online.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Stephanie, I think this is a great idea to keep projects and your settings/characters organized. I have to admit that I have so much going on at once that sometimes I need a cheat sheet to keep it all straight!

  3. I have to agree!! I'm all about organization and you've come up with a winner of an idea!

    I keep a binder, but mainly put my polished pages inside. Adding a section for all my notes and historical facts would be awesome! LOL It would be like one-stop shopping, which is the only way to go for this no-frills gal!

    Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. I love how you turn a three-ring binder into such great tool.


All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing.

Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author.