When developing a story, organization is key. It isn’t enough to just whip up a plot and start writing the whole thing out. That could work for some people, but those people are often extraordinarily gifted savants who were born for the sole purpose of writing things, and while we applaud those people for their wondrous talents, we aren’t them. Sometimes, we just need a little bit of a hand getting our stories in order, and that’s okay. It is absolutely acceptable to go back to everything we learned in English class and pull up a diagram of the standard story arc, separate our story into chunks and classify them as “Rising Action”, “Climax”, and “Falling Action”. It’s even better to divide your story into even smaller chunks based on even more complicated story arc templates. Having a hundred notepad files with all your story ideas is literally fantastic.
But no matter how much you try to organize your story on your own, you’re always going to lose track of storylines, forget tiny details or character features, and go off on a tangent so extreme that you’ll find yourself wondering how you’re going to get back on track.
Don’t worry. We have ways to fix this.
LitLift presents you with the option to separate every idea and character you have into isolated, singular entities. You can take every scene, setting, character, plotline, even items, and stick them into your story – a “Book” – where ever you like. Every fraction of your story can exist as a building block that you can add, move around, or extract as you like. You can view a list of everything that you have added as well, a simple and quick way to reference ideas that you have added. You can even add chapters and drag them around to reorder them. The book itself counts characters and words, so you can begin to write up the book or just use it as an outline. LitLift is everything you need to organize your story, and it comes with a bonus too: fantastic generators when you’re finding yourself running short on ideas. Come up with random quirks, location names, characters, even pair random images together for inspiration. LitLift has it all, and the best part is that its absolutely free.
Charahub is the ultimate resource when it comes to organizing and developing one’s characters. You can start off by creating a character – first, your character’s name. And then it’ll take you to a new section where your character is treated to an intensive questionnaire that delves into every facet of their creation. Simple traits like name, age, and a brief description, as well as an image are made immediately available, alongside their biography which offers a deeper look at the character’s qualities. You can assign up to ten images to each character and links to other characters. My favorite section of the character profile is the Questions tab, which lists dozens of interesting and thought provoking questions about your character’s likes, dislikes, habits, etc. Taking the time to answer every one of them is sure to help add a new dimension to your character. Charahub also allows you to group characters together, making it easy to organize them.
If you have ever wanted to step back and take a look at your story ideas under an entirely different light, perhaps something a little more clinical, then take a read through Dramatica. It isn’t something that you can register on and use to organize your story – it’s more of an online textbook that you can comb through and reference as you are building your story. It offers thought provoking points that make you really consider how your story and its characters evolve and affect one another. And, of course, Dramatica offers a writer’s tool that you can download that does help organize your story, but it comes at a cost. Even without purchasing the software, Dramatica is a good resource to help bring out problem areas in your story that you may not have noticed before.
That being said, you don’t have to use any of these tools to build your story. Sometimes, a good old notebook works just as well. Simply remember that the foundation of remaining organized is writing everything down. No matter the software, if you have an idea, put it down on paper or your phone or on your computer – you won’t regret it, and you most likely won’t forget it, either.
Be sure to visit next Monday for our September Spotlight: Short Stories!