Short Story Organisation

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I write flash and micro-fiction predominantly, which means stories are generally fairly quick to write and edit. Compared that with the process of longer pieces and it means a different set of organisational skills. I was asked on Twitter over the weekend how I organise myself and I thought I’d expand my answer. This is a summary of how I organise my fiction, from ideas through to tracking submissions and beyond.

1) Ideas

I use Google Keep on the move and transfer everything in to Milanote, a free web app. It’s like Trello but simpler and more visual, which I like. There are apps available for Apple and Android but my experience of the app is that it’s more limited, hence my (slightly convoluted) workflow.

In Milanote, I have a board specifically for ideas. One per idea, they’re colour-coded, where possible, for genre and each note has my random crow-brained words thrown at it.

2) Upcoming Submissions

When I’m more on top of things, I use Milanote for this, too. Otherwise, it’s tabs open on my laptop, phone and desktop computer! I have a board and it contains columns listed by month. Each column then contains the submission calls I’m interested in writing for. I would rather use notes, but the to-do list has a deadline and notification function, so I use this. Each list contains the submission call details — genre, publisher name and website, wordcount, publisher notes etc… — and I set up a reminder a week before its due. Just in case!

3) Short Story Plotting

Yup, Milanote! I put basic scene details on different cards, so can drag and drop them around the board. I did try colour-coding for characters/POV but there’s only one colour per card, so this didn’t work. I find this visual easy to work with compared with Scrivener for some reason and it’s certainly better than handwritten index cards.

4) Tracking Submissions

I do have a ‘submitted’ column on my board for upcoming submissions but don’t really need it. I use The Submission Grinder and an Excel Spreadsheet to track where I’ve submitted my work to and the outcomes. Excel is easier for me to read for details such as length of rights – 6 months? 12 months? etc… – and whilst The Submission Grinder does allow these details to be tracked, they’re tucked away which doesn’t suit my brain.

5) File Management

For short stories, flash and microfiction, I have a Scrivener document. Within that there are folders called in-progress, completed, submitted and accepted. They’re fairly self-explanatory. If a story is rejected by a publisher, I drag it back to completed, so I know if there’s another call, I can resubmit it. If I decide it needs working on, it goes back to in-progress.

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