Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Revised Novel Notebook

I'm in the process of updating my old novel notebook examples, forms, and worksheets. I tried to get it done before the virtual workshops, but that didn't happen. I would like to finish this project sometime before civilization falls into ruins and we devolve back into lemurs.

For those who don't know what the heck I'm talking about, I make novel notebooks for every book I write, and they've been very helpful to me when I'm in the planning and outlining stage of the game. It also gives me one place to put everything: notes, sketches, changes, plot diagrams, plans, promotional ideas, etc.

Ideally I'd like to create a novel notebook template for other writers to use that would be universal for all genres, but that's not working out. There are so many genre-specific writing issues, like charting relationship arcs in romance, creating magic systems in fantasy, inventing new tech for SF and so on. All genres share some of the same characteristics, but none of them are interchangeable.

At the moment I'm wrestling with the idea of dividing it into sections by genre or putting together different versions of the notebook for each genre. I also want to add some new ideas, like the character color wheel I've been working on and some other stuff.

In the meantime, I've put together a rough draft in .pdf form of what I've already done (click here to download)*, for those of you who are interested in having a look.

*This link no longer works, but you can find my Novel Notebook on Scribd here, and it's free for anyone to read online, download, print out and pass along. *Note 9/3/10: Since Scribd.com instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I have removed my free library from their site, and no longer use or recommend using their service. My free reads may be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs; go to my freebies and free reads page for the links. See my post about this scam here.

29 comments:

  1. This is terrific! Is it actually in a notebook--notebook like the kind you used to get for school?

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  2. This looks pretty good - it covers a lot of stuff that I might leave out of my own notebook ramblings (like setting). You're right about keeping everything in the one place. I recently started the "one notebook for each novel" thing and so far, it's working well.
    One suggestion - for those of us who have our own notebooks and need more space for stuff, can you provide a separate thing which is just a list of the topics without the lines underneath?

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  3. Looks cool.

    A random aside: while trolling the archives for info on the Darkyn books, I came across a post called Four by Fortyfour, only to discover that your birthday would've been last week-ish, so belated Happy Birthday, PBW! :)

    You don't have to approve this comment if you don't want that spread, but I wanted to wish you a good one anyway.

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  4. Fantastic! I absolutely adore it. :-) It puts it all in one place and for that I'm VERY thankful!

    Jessica

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  5. Jordan wrote: This is terrific! Is it actually in a notebook--notebook like the kind you used to get for school?

    Yep. I use a three-ring binder for mine, or a duotang folder if it's for a short story. With series novels, once I'm finished with one book I take my notes for the novel and put them into a series notebook tabbed with the novel titles. StarDoc is currently in six 4" binders now. :)

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  6. Sherryl said: One suggestion - for those of us who have our own notebooks and need more space for stuff, can you provide a separate thing which is just a list of the topics without the lines underneath?

    Great idea. Thanks, Sherryl.

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  7. Jess wrote: You don't have to approve this comment if you don't want that spread, but I wanted to wish you a good one anyway.

    I knew I'd get caught by someone. Thanks, Jess.

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  8. Jessica wrote: It puts it all in one place...

    Exactly. I started making notebooks to keep all my research organized, and then I started sticking photos and things in the pockets and adding in pages of character info and backstory.

    I want this project to be like an owner's manual for a novel, if that makes sense.

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  9. How far away from the real thing is this rough draft? What do you still have to add in?

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  10. Fess wrote: How far away from the real thing is this rough draft? What do you still have to add in?

    It's about three quarters done, I guess. I'd like to add in some things like a theme worksheet, the character color wheel and palette, templates for short, medium and long synopses, a plotting schematic (like a mind map, only for the plot points) and arc worksheets.

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  11. Anonymous11:35 AM

    Wow! Thank you! And wishing you the best for your newest turn around the sun.
    JulieB

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  12. Wow! This is terrific. Have you always done the Novel Notebook or is this something that's evolved over time?

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  13. Darlene wrote: Have you always done the Novel Notebook or is this something that's evolved over time?

    Both, sort of. When I was a kid I would always illustrate my stories and draw pictures on the front of the folders I kept them in so they looked more like "real" books.

    Those early notebooks evolved into binders with sections -- story in the front, illustrations and sketches in the middle, and notes in the back -- which I made throughout high school. As I began sending submissions to publishers, I added copies of my queries, addresses of publishers, rejection letters I received and so on.

    Today my novel notebooks are more like mini-encyclopedias of my novels. :)

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  14. This is fabulous and so user friendly.

    Thanks a lot.

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  15. this is an awesome start, and your future plans for the notebook sound wonderful. thanks!

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  16. That's awesome! It really helps organize everything for those of us who don't know where to begin. Thanks, Lynn ;)

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  17. Looking over this, it's the first time writing's looked fun in a long time. Thanks, PBW!

    I've never quite been able to tell from writer blogs/sites, but this seems like a pretty big career question: does the majority of the profit made from a novel come from the advance or the royalities?

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  18. Lynn,

    Yes, it makes complete sense! Happy belated birthday, btw :-). And what a wonderful idea, one notebook for one novel. I think I'll start doing that...it'll keep my world building organized AND separate.

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  19. Advances. Many writers never see a cent from royalties.

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  20. This is absolutely wonderful...I love it. It takes my own notebook writing to the next level. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. A wonnerful, wonderful aid and plan. Thank you, Hans.

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  22. This is wonderful! Thanks so much!

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  23. Anonymous10:26 AM

    Overall, I like it. A "culture/subculture" section, subdivided by whatever characteristics seem to you most consistently important, like where the main characters stand in relation to the culture, might go well with the setting worksheets, and you could conceivably do a single "speculative" worksheet. Something like: "Differences between the rules of the book's universe and the real world" subdivided by supernatural, magical, and speculative-scientific headings, and also with headings to put how these affect the characters.

    Overall, this looks like it would work well for a variety of people-thanks!

    -tianne

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  24. Oh my gosh, are you ever organized! I'm a pantser and it's an issue. I'm writing a sequel and I have to read my own book to remember what everyone looks like.

    Yes, it's sad.

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  25. Hey, thanks for making this. It'll wickedly useful for NaNoWriMo. I have typed out all of the titles of things so I can have more space to work with. :D Thanks again!

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  26. Oh my god , I love your books .
    So much .
    <3
    ;_;
    I wish I was Kyn .

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  27. This seems like such an amazing idea. I use a notebook when writing but it gets disorganized and I always end up missing something. I'd love to try out your rought draft but the link is broken. Is there somewhere else that you may have posted it? I really hope so.

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  28. Hollywood wrote: Is there somewhere else that you may have posted it? I really hope so.

    Yes, it's posted at Scribd.com now, and I've updated the post with the new link. I'm still working on revising it (every time I get ready to finish it something else comes up) but I hope to put out a more updated version next year.

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  29. Lynn, I have to tell you here that I have a copy of TNN from years ago and I also have to tell you that your completed Character Worksheet on Jory Rask/Blade Dancer was invaluable to me as I could not visualize what an actual complete character worksheet should look like. Yours helped out so much it was amazing! I hope you will still include that particular example in the future. I know that whatever you come up with will be great!
    Patti

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