Novel writing using OneNote – get organised

I’m pressing ahead with the final revision to my third DCI Matt Proctor novel that I hope to publish early next year (2017). I’ve written this novel experimenting using OneNote and I’ve found it to be a most useful tool. I’ll try my best to explain how this works – however if you are minded to give it a go I suggest you open Microsoft OneNote or if you haven’t got it already, then download it – it’s free!

I use the 2007 version – the later 2013 version is similar but as always with software and app developments, 2013 has a few extra tweaks.

If you have OneNote open you will see a series of tabs across the top. They are called sections. My approach for novel writing is to label the different tabs or sections as follows: Core idea, Outline, Scenes, Characters, Settings. I suggest as a minimum these five sections are all you need. However, I’ve added Synopsis and Research sections as well. The beauty is you can have as many or as few as you like – and here’s the real bonus – everything is in one place, one screen – it’s dead easy to flick between one section and another. You’re writing a scene – does young Zoe have a stud on her nose or her lip? Open your Characters’ section, go to Zoe’s page. Ah, on her nose. One click – back to Scenes and your current scene page. Now you carry on writing your scene describing Zoe’s nose piercing – and perhaps dad’s reaction on seeing it for the first time. Wait, dad – is he hot-tempered or generous and understanding? Back to the characters tab. Checked! Now since her parent’s divorce is Zoe’s dad living in Washington or Wolverhampton, New York or Newcastle. Check the Settings section, ‘dad’s house’ page. Got it, click back to Scenes. Now you’re up to speed and can finish writing your scene.

Now here’s a really great feature. You’re writing scene 44 and you think – hey, this needs to come much earlier, before scene 23. Down the side of your scene 44 text is a panel where the heading or first line of each scene appears. Hover over scene 44, slide it up before scene 23 and drop it there. Bingo! You’re sorting your story structure as you go along. But maybe you prefer to push ahead and get that all-important first draft completed and then worry about issues like sequence, pacing, character development, etc – okay, get all your scenes written first, then at the revision stage start moving those scenes up and down. Ah, but what about timelines, the dreaded timelines. Well, I’ve devised what I call an EASYVIEW SCENE PLANNER that goes at the head of each scene…

OneNote 2010
OneNote 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I’m running ahead of myself here – what I want to do next year is pull my novel writing approach using OneNote together into a freebie that I can give away to my blog followers. So step up, folks, sign up and keep looking in.

Nose piercing
Nose piercing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)