Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Organizing Your WIP

I'm almost anal compulsive when it comes to organizing my "homework" data. You've read in my blog what homework is in tailoring your book...it's all the preliminary stuff you do before and while you work on your book.

Even though I don't feel this way about most things, I do when it comes to writing. Last Wednesday, I talked about outlines and the various ways I gathered information. This week is how to find that information when you need it...Storing it. We have these nifty (yeah I'm old but young at heart) things called computers. I use Windows but I'm sure all the other operating systems have something similar. Even if you print them out and keep it in a folder on your desk, you probably gathered the information from the internet so it's in a jumbled mess under "my pictures," "my downloads," "my video," or "my documents, etc." In other words, lost in all the other stuff on your computer.

For me, this is my method, but do something similar... something that makes sense to you. You'll thank yourself later whether you are playing at writing, or writing your first novel or book, or like me- have 31 published titles under your belt...if that's the case you probably have a system in place. For the rest of you, get started now!

1) Under "my documents" make folder. Right click your mouse and a small screen will show. Select "new" and click on "folder." In mine I titled it "my books,." and "my Shorts." Open this folder, Don't worry it will be empty, but we will fix that. I started each major folder starting with the same letter so it's easier for me to find it later. "My shorts" are articles, writing prompt exercises, and short stories under 1K words. I segments it the same as "WIP."
2) Doing the same procedure create several new folders in "my books": "WIP,""EDITing," "Completed ms," and "Published," I e-publish and paperback so I need the published folder for the various formats. This way I know what is a WIP, what needs editing, what is final drafts, what I want to publish or send to my agent or publisher. IF it is the latter I create folders for "Queries" and "Synopses." No, I don't send the same query to different agents. To me it's just like a form letter rejection...it's done way too much. I keep spreadsheets of contact, queries in another folder. I create a folder under each I list as "Sales" these are the monthly and quarterly sales reports. Sorry, it's the retired accountant in me...be safe and double check the figures, not after you receive a 10-99.
3) Open up the WIP folder. Create a folder with the title of the MS. It doesn't matter what you call it. For instance, for the first ten weeks when I was writing Escape from Second Eden this folder was called "Ceylon" because I didn't have a title but I knew it was going to that place in Ceylon.It can always be changed later.

For me, I have twenty titles in my WIP folder for various states of first drafts that I was working on before my stroke. I know I'm Abby Normal. If you take a look at my sidebar there are three bullet for three novels, but sixteen I can work on and nothing for my nonfiction, I have four of those. Writing in multiple genres and multiple titles is NOT for the normal person. It's just the way my brain worked before my stroke.

4) Okay now you have an also empty folder for your WIP under (insert your title). Open it up. I'll makes some new folders and title them: Character studies, Pictures, Roughs, and Background. Name them whatever you feel comfortable with. This is just how I do it.
5) Now it's just a simple cut and paste option to add those things that are elsewhere on your computer. The "background" holds your tidbits of information, quotes and references. I do suggest renaming the items for easier recognition and the same goes for pictures. I know one author I tutored placed the pictures of her characters, houses, etc. too on her character study which was pretty smart.
6) Going back to the next category, "EDITing."  Once you've completed your rough draft move the whole WIP folder titled with your work to "Editing."
7) You've got everything for your book in one place while it goes through the editing process. Each editing pass put the title with an alphabet or number after the titled so you can keep track of all your editing passes while still leaving the previous version untouched. It's an affirmation technique and if something does not work the way you want it you have a copy of the pre-edited version at your finger tips.You can even do a split screen version. If you've set it out to betas, or critique, you have some place to store them. I add the initials of the critiquer to the end of the title when saving. This even works with proof-readers or copywriters. Now go back and reread your rough and see the changes in your manuscript. You'll be surprised!
8) After you've done all the editing, you will move the file to "Completed MS." You still have all your stuff for that book in one place. You will change the name of the last edited version to the official title of the book. I suggest using capital letters so it stands out.
9) "Published"- in this folder you will copy and paste your completed book in whatever form you wrote it in. You will be creating a new folder titled "formats" and this will be the various formats you are going to be publishing in with format in the title.
10)You have designed your book cover in 5x 8 and full jacket. It's there under "Pictures." You have your back cover blurb, "about the author," your author picture, under "Background" You will copy and paste it into "Published" with book title. You have everything all together to place your book up for sale.

It won't be easy organizing all the information that goes into a book...writers are constantly trying different things. It's free and already on your computer. Soon it will become habit and you'll stop the " I know I have it somewhere in my computer" shuffle. Been there/Done that.

Oh, by the way, back up this file to a thumb drive or other backup system.I've lost entire manuscripts carbon copies (pre-computer days) and computers due to fires, electrical surges, floods, drive crashes, etc. It ain't called Murphy's Law for nothing and I'm a Murphey!

Now if you do your own book video trailer the under "Pictures" you will have to create a new folder named "Trailer." But I'll explain this another day.

So how do you organize your writing?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

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