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Offline ns

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« on: January 10, 2018, 04:20:40 PM »
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« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 12:15:59 PM by northstar »

Offline AliceS

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 08:04:55 AM »
I use Onenote - it came with my Word package.

It's basically a notebook online. You create the notebook - I have one per series. Inside are sections - I do World, Characters, Countries, etc. Inside the sections are pages. I do one for each thing that will get a lot of info. For example, under Characters, I do a page for each POV character and usually a page for miscellaneous. Sometimes by location - Misc at the School or Misc at the Castle sort of thing.

You can leave it open while you are writing and add things as they come up. If I find myself writing - John hated baloney - I can copy and paste that into his character page. Or if I realize he/she needs to have blue eyes instead of hazel, I can correct it that way.

I often add a brainstorming or loose ends page that can be a reference for the next book in the series.

There is also a simple drawing capability so you can sketch out diagrams of places, floorplans, etc.

It acts as the bible for my series to give continuity to the books. And I store it in a cloud that is also backed up elsewhere.

Hope that helps.


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Offline TromboneAl

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 08:13:36 AM »
I take my notes with Google Keep. I always have a computer, tablet, or phone with me. I sometimes write the note by speaking the words.

It's true, you must learn to make an effort to add context to your notes--you have to assume that you'll have no memory of the note.

Here are my notes I made prior to writing A Mind Reader's Christmas. It looks like about half of them got incorporated into the book. A few of them I don't understand (e.g. Samuel doing something like Lukas in Wool).

Vermont vacation
Cosmina can read thoughts of ghost
Town mystery
Friend of Cosmina's needs help as in Alcott book
Cosmina tells friend's parents
Ghost's family thought badly of her. Cosmina fixes that
Luette is the ghost
Eric tells cosmina about her power, to get them out of a jam.
Teams up with someone and that person turns out to be a bad guy
Have someone say sincerely that they believe Eric, but in their mind they don't.
Something happens on Santa Lucia day every year
Have him go with ghost hunter
Cosmina had a near-death experience?
What ghost appears, and looks completely real, but Eric can't read its mind. Only Cosmina can. That confuses him.
lurking feeling of ill-ease for which I could not account.
Maybe everyone in the town is a ghost, or from another era?
Ghost gets depressed at Christmas?
Eric meets someone who, it turns out later, is dead.
Man says that we are in fact conscious during sleep, but get amnesia
The man speaks in old dialect
Eric suspects him of murder???
Doesn't want to shake hands
Eric worries that Cosmina is schizophrenic
Have some way for Eric to see the ghost
Have a medium
Ghost points them to diary or other document
Kids fake ghost as a prank, and real ghost intervenes
Ghost plays jazz on piano
Cosmina disappears!
Someone complains about eric using logic.
Tick tick, as in the Applewood table
Eric exposes a medium
Have dogs
Ghost has power to take someone over to their side
Eric sees Samuel in town, but Samuel just waves
Eric has to choose between viv and Cosmina
Samuel tells a ghost story
Eric goes into Ghost World and Samuel saves him by sacrificing himself
The situation escalates when someone dies
ghost who had died with a young daughter Cosmina's age takes cause Mina and Eric chases her into the spirit world
They tell Cosmina Santa Claus doesn't exist
Viv steals something they need. DNA sample?
"Cosmina laughed at my fear." As my first sentence.
Cosmina gets possessed
Have an orphanage
Have warm feeling stream through Eric's body/psyche
Have some other suspect for a while (for manger thing.
Samuel doing something like Lukas in Wool
Samuel shows Eric a special stone storage location (it will hold note to him after Samuel is gone.
Eric foresees greatness for Cosmina, so he teaches her thoroughly
Have a sound that Eric cannot describe
Have Eric explain the meaning of feeling chills down your back: it's your hair cells going erect
Samuel tells a story in the old style of writing
Samuel is a monk hermit
Eric is visited in a dream by a ghost (or by Samuel)
Have something show how Eric did his homework
Have Eric struggle with a totally invisible ghost
Have Eric talked about TV antennas as being analogous to how he receives thoughts, perhaps.
Samuel is super fast?
Cosmina plays video game in Romanian
Conversation about open mind as with Lukas world flat

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Offline Christine Clayfield

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 08:18:08 AM »
AliceS above has a good system.

I use a similar one for my notes. Keep one notebook/folder per book so there is no confusion and divide it up by relevant categories!
E.g: miscelaneous ideas, storyline/plot, possible conversations, a bio for each character, etc.

As you take your notes, make sure it makes sense to you, and you have included enough information so it makes sense to someone who knows nothing about your book. For example, if you had to hire an assistant to help you with your research, etc.

As you've found out, after a break, you often come back to an old project but somehow, you cannot remember the ideas you had.

Offline PermaStudent

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 08:44:42 AM »
Years ago in my pantsing days (I'm more of a plotter these days), I would sit in class and write out pages of notes.  Full sentences.  Full paragraphs.  I occasionally still find them in my old notebooks--notes that I wrote and lost for manuscripts long since finished--and think "wow, that would have been a brilliant plot twist!"

Now I use email and I include the working title in the header so I can search them later.  I've tried to get on board with something more organized but it's just not my habit and I'm on the go too often.  When brilliance hits, I whip out my phone, write or dictate a quick email, and send to myself.

I always use full sentences to avoid context issues.
  I write urban fantasy.  There are girls in gowns and glowy hands on my covers.

Offline Kelaren

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 11:57:18 AM »
Huh, never thought about using email that way, Perma. I might have to steal that one!

And I think context is probably the most useful thing to think about when taking notes. Having that little voice in the back of your mind asking you, "Will I know what I'm talking about in X months when I look at these next?"

Offline thesmallprint

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 01:06:17 PM »
If you prefer handwritten, go to YouTube and google bullet journal.

Offline Brevoort

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 04:27:45 PM »


There are some pretty specific techniques and practices you can pick up from the world of serious journalism, in particular newspaper and magazine journalism. I am a product of that world but I still use its tools and practices in my non-fiction and fiction worlds.

They are all founded on attitude, consistency, and simplicity.

The first thing to firmly grasp is that you will forget some, part, or all, of a thought or observation unless you get it down in physical form. Memory is as fleeting as summer lightning and it is all too common to forget the very fact that you had thought of something in the first place.

The second thing is that no note-taking system can be too simple. If you need to stop what you are doing to open an app, or fish your phone out of your pocket and enter its security code, or stop to find your special pen, or fire up a voice recorder, your thought is in danger of disappearance. As much as possible try to use one system only. Don't use Evernote, OneNote, Google Keep indiscriminately and simultaneously. You will lose notes.

Here is my system. Others will have better and perhaps worse but that's okay as long as you pick something and stick to it, making no changes to it without long and hard thought.


I am an inveterate tweaker and adjuster, but not when it comes to idea generation and note keeping. There is something very fragile about the process of getting stuff out of one's head and that process is too easily disrupted. So, stay away from trying Google Keep, then MindMap, then Onenote, or god forbid all at once. Just pick one and stick with it until you are sure of a need for change.


One of the writers I greatly admire is James Rebanks (A Shepherd's Life) who says he and his fellow shepherds in England's Lake district are pathologically opposed to new ways of doing things. "If you have done something on your farm the same way for generations then that is a good reason not to change." So pick something and use it without modification until you are unequivocally sure that change will help.

I carry a softcover notebook of about 60 pages that fits into a hip pocket. It is with me all day everyday. With it I also have a telescoping pen that also sits in the hip pocket. The Spacepen is the right size but the Zebra is fine too. You could also have a cut down pencil if that is your preference. But the point is that the notebook and the pen are always together. The type of notebook is immaterial. Don't get bogged down in finding the perfect notebook. Anything that fits into a pocket is fine. There is one exception. If you will be jotting notes in inclement weather or near water then use a notebook made with waterproof paper. The one I use is made by Rite in the Rain.

Date, timestamp, and record your location. This does not have to be the first thing you jot. I tend to add it last to make sure that I am not going to miss getting all of my thought down cleanly.


Write the thought in one simple sentence or a decent sentence fragment. Then, tag on any context, color, or subsidiary thoughts. Don't worry about handwriting, in fact it is good practice not to even look at the paper while you are jotting.

When you open your notebook, don't try to find the next available page or section of page, just open it at random, give it a quick glance to make sure that you have a clear space to write, and then charge ahead. You must always try to make sure that nothing gets between the still bubbling thought in your brain and the words on the paper.

The next step, and it can be done quite some time after the actual note taking, is to make a Table of Contents entry.

I number all the pages in my notebook. When the note is done I flip to the first page and on its own line I put down the page number where I randomly dumped the note. Then I give it some sort of title so I can refer to it later. A primitive TOC will make finding and using your note a lot easier.

It is really important to get these notes into a more formal record keeping system before they turn into cryptic messages from an alien underworld. So, as soon as you can it is best to put them into your favourite computerized data system, be it Evernote, One Note or whatever, it really doesn't matter what you use as long as you only use one.

For longer notes, or perhaps even full scenes in a book manuscript, you can use a portable voice recorder and then import them as text files using one of the Dragon Naturally Speaking editions that supports transcription, not all do. Using a voice recorder is superb for describing a location you might want to use in a story, or to get down as much complicated detail that you think you will need.

A variation on that technique is to hit the video button on your phone and visually record your surrounding as you describe the scene.

A different system might be necessary when working right at your computer. It may be best to pop open your database program and type out a note, but be wary that you don't get shunted down a rabbit hole. I keep my little notebook right next to my mouse or I reach for the voice recorder.

A lot of people have asked me about the idea of learning shorthand for note taking. My answer is, don't bother. I learned shorthand as a young reporter and use it still but it is of limited use to the fiction writer. There are rather simple techniques for what is called speed writing and you could look into them if you are interested. I'll bet there are speed writing book courses on amazon.

The main thing is, have a way of getting that thought out of your head as quickly as possible, with the least technical effort (find app, open, menu / make new note  --- forgot what the hell I was going to say) and store it in one repository so you can review it later.


By simplifying and shortening that connection between thought and written note you will dramatically improve your abilities.


Keep in mind that if the phrase, "That's a good idea. I must remember to make a note of that." flits through your head then it is as good as dead. Don't think, just get it down on paper or on tape.
Rick Grant
Calgary

Offline Skip Knox

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 05:06:27 PM »
Brevoort has it right. This is so important I'm going to recapitulate it.

1. Use only thing. If you use paper and pen, resist all temptation to also voice record or use anything else. Everything in one place. You can read Getting Things Done and its references for the psychological reasons behind this.

2. I prefer physical notebooks because physically writing puts the information into memory. Copy/paste does not (though that's still better than highlighting). Again there is good science behind this, but the writer more than anyone needs to internalize information.

3. Whatever system you use, keep it with you always. Always. Your brain needs to know a thought can be captured no matter what. Another argument, imo, for paper.

4. Definitely do some indexing. Table of contents, page numbering, all the stuff Mr Grant mentions is time well spent.

5. And of course it all goes into the computer at some point, the sooner the better. This not only makes it searchable, and more readily usable, it is an additional step in helping you internalize (oh, let's just call it remembering) the information.

The above must become habit, which will not happen until after months of usage, so don't expect miracles. You're developing a lifetime system here.

Great question!

Offline Brevoort

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 05:14:15 PM »
Superb revision Skip. I am ashamed I didn't write it that way.


Well done.
Rick Grant
Calgary

Offline Marty South

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 05:17:04 PM »
I think it's important to consider the purpose of the notes. Short version: categorize and organize.

Methods:
For novels: Notes are like shopping lists. I don't need or want to be able to come back in ten years and make sense of them. Once the novel is written, they've served their purpose. I'm not writing reference books here. I just need what works for a particular use in a particular context.

For a series: I create a bible of sorts. I lists names and relationships, events, settings -- anything that will be woven into the fabric of the ongoing series and will need to be referenced later.

For general issues (e.g., genre-specific, historical periods), I keep a file of related information that might come up on an ongoing basis.

Tools:
Microsoft OneNote: I love the add-on button that lets you pull articles or entire pages from websites and addd them to specific notebooks. I've used this with Word to write novels.

Storyist: This lacks OneNote's handy button for importing websites, but otherwise it's a fantastic way to organize every aspect of a book's progress from start almost to finish. Once I compile a Word doc to send off to editing, I abandon Storyist and work with Word.

Scrivener: A lot of people swear by Scrivener. It's less elegant than Storyist, but it gets the job done. Caveat: Every time I've used it, I've had syncing issues that cost me several hours of work to recover valuable work product.

Offline NAKBaldron

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 05:27:01 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7CwqNHn_Ns
Taking Notes: Crash Course Study Skills #1

Great series. I'm a huge fan of crash course as an overview resource.


Offline Skip Knox

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 07:09:26 AM »
Marty South mentioned it depends on the project. I agree in a small way but important way. The methodology sketched by Brevoort still applies, but I want to mention something on the computer end.

I write fantasy, multiple stories all set in the same world. World building is therefore important, and I have a metric boatload of notes about the world. I have a separate Scrivener project (insert here whatever is your preferred electronic tool) specifically for the world building. When typing up my physical notes, I'll have two project open. One is my WIP, the other is WorldReference, the name of my world building Scrivener project. IOW, there are notes relevant to the specific project, and there are notes relevant to the background world.

I can picture, for other genres, a General file (or project) where you record background information:  forensic info for the murder mystery writer, historical info for the historical romance writer, tech and politics info for the thriller writer, and so on. I imagine just about every writer could use a General Background file of some sort.

Offline Ebook Proofreading

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2018, 07:12:05 AM »
I use Onenote - it came with my Word package.

It's basically a notebook online. You create the notebook - I have one per series. Inside are sections - I do World, Characters, Countries, etc. Inside the sections are pages. I do one for each thing that will get a lot of info. For example, under Characters, I do a page for each POV character and usually a page for miscellaneous. Sometimes by location - Misc at the School or Misc at the Castle sort of thing.

You can leave it open while you are writing and add things as they come up. If I find myself writing - John hated baloney - I can copy and paste that into his character page. Or if I realize he/she needs to have blue eyes instead of hazel, I can correct it that way.

I often add a brainstorming or loose ends page that can be a reference for the next book in the series.

There is also a simple drawing capability so you can sketch out diagrams of places, floorplans, etc.

It acts as the bible for my series to give continuity to the books. And I store it in a cloud that is also backed up elsewhere.

Hope that helps.

I agree, Onenote is the best.
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Offline AliceS

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2018, 08:13:16 AM »
I really like OneNote because I can set it up the way my brain works. Haven't tried Evernote, but I think it is a subscription. There might be a free version. OneNote came in my Word package so it was "free" sort of.


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Offline Don DeBon

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2018, 10:39:49 AM »
I really like OneNote because I can set it up the way my brain works. Haven't tried Evernote, but I think it is a subscription. There might be a free version. OneNote came in my Word package so it was "free" sort of.

There is a free plan for Evernote.  And unless you upload a lot of images or large files every month, it is plenty for the writer.

I haven't used Onenote, as I never got it for free (that and most of Microsoft's software is rather bloated).  I do use Evernote to get ideas down and then put them in my writing tool of choice yWriter, though I do use Scrivener for some things.  yWriter has a "Project Notes" section where you can create different notes and titles for each.  Usually it is more than enough.  If I need more I create a "unused" chapter (so it does not get exported with the  novel itself) and keep more notes and details there.

I know some people write on their phones/tablets, but I just can't do that much typing on a glass screen.  In an emergency I have written a chapter or so with so many errors it made my head spin.  But I was on a roll at the time and was far away from my computer.  I cleaned it up later when I got home.

Anyway, back to notes: I would use paper however my handwriting is terrible, hence I prefer something I can type on.  If you use Evernote and have a link/icon to a note on your home screen it is only a tap to get into it.  You can also create an icon for a new note on your home screen which I also recommend.  Then it is on, tap, type.  Much less chance of losing notes.  I have in fact lost ideas as Skip mentions, even at my computer by being distracted for a second and forgetting what I was going to write down.  My mind is constantly churning and it is easy to do.  On my computer I have an icon for the windows notepad that always sits in my taskbar.  One click and I make a note, then copy it out to where it should be.

If you are into paper notebooks (and I think it is a good idea if your handwriting is decent) check out http://www.diyplanner.com/ there are a ton of free templates to print out your own notebooks in all different sizes.  There is even one to print on index cards.  Several templates are also designed with writers in mind.

Another possibility is http://www.pocketmod.com/ although I liked diyplanner.com's custom index card solution better.

And if you want a note program that is very flexible and open source, try keynote https://sourceforge.net/projects/keynote/  it imports and exports (though I always just cut and pasted) not to mention has a lot of organizational features.  It is very lightweight and I have used it for years.

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Offline EC Sheedy

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2018, 05:07:24 PM »
As the queen of indecipherable notes, this thread has been incredibly helpful. Indexing, use one thing . . . All good.

Thanks!

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Re: Notetaking - help me improve!
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2018, 05:11:29 PM »
I used OneNote in the past, but transferred the information into Cherrytree, which is a hierarchical note taker. Cherrytree is available free on Linux and Windows. As a hierarchical program you always know what your list refers to because you file it under that. For information that I want recorded that it is nor project specific I use SQLite.


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