Using Word features to organize your thoughts

It’s sometimes difficult to keep track of what is happening when, especially if you write a longer book, or to remember if you’ve explained something already or if it’s just in your head.

When I write, I often let my mind wonder and let the fingers type away on my keyboard. I don’t worry too much about how it works in the overall story. I have the outline of the story in the back of my mind, but I don’t interfere or direct my thoughts in any one way or another.

In draft one, I have lots of scenes and patches written. Next step is about connecting and changing them so they make sense and fit together. I don’t write the whole story in the first draft.

Often I will have many open questions that remain unanswered for months on end, until I figure out what to do with them and how they fit in the story. It can range from a character I haven’t introduced or assigned a role yet, or a scene I don’t know where to place, but it can also be insiders that hint towards something, but I haven’t yet written the corresponding part to it. I need to remember to finish that thought somewhere. For this I use footnotes in Word a lot. I use them to remind myself of plot holes or things that don’t work at the moment. Often I will forget about them until I read the footnote (hence why I always write it down). And reading them repeatedly helps me remind myself of what I still need to figure out. These footnotes accumulate in the back of my mind so when I write new parts, or rewrite parts, I will remember them and incorporate them.

I also use colours when I want to highlight something that is currently written a certain way, but needs to be rewritten, but I can’t figure out how yet.

I also highlight important things that I know will be key moments in the story, so that when I look for them or want to double-check what I wrote previously, I can quickly find it. I use this for example when I introduce a character for the first time.

How do you organize your thoughts when you write?

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