When you’re writing a novel, chances are at some point you’ll need to do some research. It’s can be quite hazardous, especially if you’re trying to do it at the same time as you try to write as many words as humanly possible in a very short timespan. Research is after all a slippery slope down the Google rabbit hole, where you may get lucky and find what you need after ten minutes, or you emerge five hours later in a completely different place than where you went in. Who knew researching North American birds could lead to twelfth century Chinese husbandry.
In other words, it’s time to get ahead of the game, and start your research now. You may want to do this at the same time as you’re outlining, or perhaps just planning your novel. Or maybe you need to research in order to find your story. Why you need to do it doesn’t matter, actually doing it does. I can’t offer any help with the actual research itself, that you need to do unfortunately. But I do have some tips for handy ways to keep that research nice and organized, so it’s right where you need it when you need it.
Here are some of the tools you could use to organize your research notes.
- Notebook/Bullet Journal
- One long-ass Word document from hell
Personally, Scrivener and Evernote are where I keep my research notes. I mainly try to keep them in Evernote, that way I have access to then pretty much wherever I go. The stuff I add to Scrivener is usually what I need for a specific scene or chapter. In Evernote I can easily organize my notes in different notebooks, add tags if I want, and it’s always with me on my laptop or phone.
OneNote could work much the same as Evernote, except I write on a Mac, so it doesn’t quite work for me. It’s still a pretty good tool though, and would work well for research notes. Of course, you can also just use a regular notebook, or even a bullet journal, and it would do much the same. It would also be easy to bring everywhere, though I would worry about loosing it myself.
I may love Notecards, but for this I haven’t quite used them. But I’m sure they would work fine. As for Word, well, I’m sure it could work. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I know there are people who write their whole novel in Word, so they would probably rock this long-ass hellish research document. Personally, I’d rather use a notebook written in my own blood. Seems much less painful.
However you choose to organize your notes, the important thing is to do it. Cause you need them organized! Seriously. November is not the month you want to be looking for that once piece of crucial information you spent a weekend researching.
Be smart. Organize (your research) now.