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  • andrewverlaine

Notes to keep during the writing process

When I've got a laptop in front of me, I use the following documents when writing, often having a few open to add in bits and pieces. You might find a similar process useful:

The manuscript: Obviously.

Detailed synopsis: This has all the main details, chapter by chapter (it's not the kind of thing you would send to a publisher or agent when making an initial submission). I update this as new plot points come in.

Thematic notes: This is one that I think many if not most writers don't have, and if your book is 99% about plot and character you probably have little need of this. In any case, it's a good way to keep track of how different elements of your story link up thematically. It can also be useful if you tend to write too little rather than too much word count-wise, as it can spur ideas or flag up themes that are underdeveloped.

Character sketches: Although some people can go overboard with these, for the main characters I do fill in key facets of the character. This can also be useful for continuity. Here's an example:

Name: (Brief description of who character is)


Relationship status:







Attitude to other characters:


Letters to agents etc.: If you're thinking of going down the publishing route, it's good to be thinking ahead to how you want to present your book. Your ideas around this are likely to evolve somewhat as your book takes shape and gets closer to the point where you want to send it out into the world. If you wish to self-publish, there are a host of other things you'll want to be thinking about in advance (how to self-publish, how to publicize etc. etc.)

Having these documents can be helpful for condensing key information into an at-a-glance resource, rather than having to go through the manuscript itself if you're thinking about whether to flesh out a particular character. I hope you've found this of interest-happy writing!

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