Monday, November 2, 2009

Writerly Gadgets and Gizmos: Organization

Every November I scour the NaNoWriMo forums for new websites, computer programs, and gadgets for writers. Throughout my searches I have discovered some great Writerly Gadgets I use to help me in my writing. The first gadgets I want to talk about are organizational gadgets.


One such gadget is Technically Mind42 is not a writing website, nor is it in anyway creative. It is a mind mapping site that can also be collaborative. Originally designed for businesses, I find it a helpful tool for organizing. Last years Nano, I had a very large space ship, and I could not keep track of what was on which decks, halls, ect. The mind mapping set-up makes it easy to organize website articles and pictures as well, allowing you to make notes on each ‘node.’

For fantasy novels, I love Mind42 to keep track of each character’s possessions, weapons, and keep events. I have an entire tree filled out for races, classes, culture, geography, and government in the world my fantasy novels are set in. You can close the nodes or open them depending on what you want to look at.

Index Cards:

Okay, so they aren’t really a gadget, or a gizmo for that matter, but they are helpful for organization. Once again, I use these for fleshing out worlds, ranks, characters. A lot like Mind 42 but you don’t have to have a computer or internet access. I work better on things that don’t have internet access, personally, because there’s less distraction. I carry an index card box in my car just in case I get an idea while driving, and I drive a lot. Though I use mine to organize individual projects, index card files can also be used as plot closets. When needing a plot you can easily access one you didn’t have a chance to tackle before.


Most people are familiar with WikiPedia, a collaborative encyclopedia. Now you can create a Wiki of your own. Sites such as tiddlywiki, pbwiki, MindTouch, and WikiSpaces allow you to create an organized digital notebook, or encyclopedia completely customize to your writing. This can even include research materials. Like Mind42 you can use your Wiki on the web as a collaborative effort if you so choose.

How about you? What do you use to organize your novel? Do you write an outline? Or do you just let it go and hope you don’t kill a character you need later on (guilty!)?

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