Continuing with my new series Organization In Writing, this week I’ll be discussing how I organize all of the different drafts for different projects.
I write a premise document for every single story concept that I have. Most of my story concepts don’t even have an outline yet, but they do have a premise. My premise document contains every single thought or idea I’ve had pertaining to that particular story, character names, snippets of dialogue, ideas for exploration, and most importantly, my basic idea for what the story is going to be about. I use the premise to refer back to, and even if I change an idea, I keep the original concept in the document. I do this for two reasons. The first, is to see how far I’ve come from the original concept – I like to review my thought process as a story progresses. The second reason is that often, if an idea diverges considerably from my first thought, I can still sometimes use that first thought as an idea in another story.
The outline comes next, and I build it off of my ‘premise document’. My outlines contain the fleshed-out ideas from my ‘premise document’. I often like to draw diagrams for some of the aspects of my story that are difficult for me to convey using words alone. For example, the institutional structure of the Elden Forest government, is on a purple post-it so that I can see it as a drawing. The outline is helpful because it helps to clarify the direction in which my story will go, and many of the details of the story. Still, the outline is always subject to change, so it’s hardly a document that is set in stone. As with my premise, I like to keep the original to see how far I deviate from my original outline.
First drafts are notoriously messy things. In my opinion, they should be all about the writer getting the story out of their head and down on paper. My first drafts are filled with spelling mistakes, typos, and some really garbage passages. It took me a VERY long time, and a lot of practice to get past my ‘edit-on-the-go’ instincts, to allow myself to JUST WRITE.
This is a document that I keep for stories that are part of a series. It’s an ancillary document that allows me to keep track of aspects of my story that may not make it into the novel itself, but are important aspects for me, as the storyteller to know. This document often contains character maps, secondary and future plot lines, as well as other nuggets of information that I may not have chosen to reveal to the readers.
How do you organize the different drafts of your writing? Tell me in the comments below!
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