Think Ink! Guest Series by Rose B. Fischer

think inkHey guys! This is Rose B. Fischer. You might know me from over on my blog of the same name. If not, it’s nice to meet you!

Last year, I blogged through an experiment in designing a drafting and revision process that works better for me than what I have been doing for. The blog series was known as Think Ink. This year, I’m doing another round of Think Ink focused on my getting all my notes and research organized.   Alli invited me to share my posts here with you, so here I am.

In week one I explained my organizational process thus far and why I’d like to change it.

This week, I want to talk about what hasn’t worked, to see if I can get a better idea of what WILL work.  Each of these methods/programs do have some functional uses, and I recommend checking them out.  They may be just the thing you need.

  • The Brain is a super powerful piece of mind mapping software with a lot of bells and whistles. I like the paid version better than the free version, but not enough to warrant the cost. I really enjoyed its ability to list items and automatically generate a mind map from them.  Also, importing lists will generate a new map.  This is awesome, because I love lists! The problem is the maps themselves aren’t flexible enough to give me room to explore without creating a lot of separate diagrams that have to be linked together. I spent more time trying to get the interface to look the way I wanted it to end trying to move branches around so that the screen was less cluttered that I actually spent working in the program.
  • An Outline/List Structure (Including Trello.) Bulleted lists and the automatic outline structure in Word have been my best friend for ages. They helped me a lot in organizing my thoughts visually, but they’re only effective for helping me break my ideas into categories. I can’t use the outline document itself to fill in details because I get too confused over which category to put things in or I just end up with so many subcategories that the document is a nightmare to navigate. Trello is much easier to navigate, and it would be almost perfect for me if I could save Trello boards in a readable off-line format. Writing all my notes in Word and then trying to update or upload to Trello is too time-consuming and I actually forget to make the updates. I get overwhelmed easily, so I need a system where I can write my notes directly into the organizational structure.  I do a lot of notes, so 2700 different documents all linked to a Trello card is not helpful. I also need a structure that allows for collapsibility and nesting, since my stories usually end up having multiple time periods, multiple generations, and multiple cultures to deal with all the same time. Robin has a worldbuilding template for Trello that would be good for stories with a smaller scope. I’ve tried similar methods and I always end up feeling like I’d need to set up separate boards for each culture and/or time. Then I get overwhelmed because there’s too much and it’s too hard for me to find what I’m looking for.
  • Appending Worldbuilding notes to Character sheets (plus character sheets period.  I hate them.)  Since my stories are usually character driven, and most of my notes about how the worlds work are full of “well, this was my original idea, and the characters said this and did this this and this, so now I think…” One of the first things I tried was organizing my notes by character. The problem with this is I need character sheets to do it, and it’s always complicated because if there’s more than one character involved, I have to figure out who to put the thing under and remember where it is.

What I’m thinking now is that I’ll use Scrivener’s index card/storyboarding feature to jot reminders of content on my brain dump files and then transfer them into some manner of organized reference doc/series bible a little at a time.

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