I recently had a query from Tristan Bancks (writer of the Mac Slater, Cool Hunter books) about how I keep my research in order. Actually, I’m not very good at keeping my research in order. I lose things all the time (eg. this morning). So I thought if I did a blog about it, someone might have suggestions for the perfect method.
I always have a notebook for each book I’m going to write. If I read something that might be useful, or see something on TV or if I just get an idea in the middle of the night, I right it down in the notebook. I take it with me if I go to the library to do some research. I also have a folder for each potential book. That’s where I keep magazine articles, photocopies from books, pictures, photos, pamphlets etc. I sometimes buy books on the subject or about the historical period as well. I end up with quite a lot of stuff.
I might be writing one book and thinking about another, so I don’t want things to get confused, so I have an archive box for each project and all the books, notes, folders for each book go in the box. Then I only have one place to look for something.
Trouble is the box gets in a mess and the thing I want is always down the bottom. This is the box for the book I’m writing at the moment. Not very neat as you can see.
I also keen research info on my computer. I have a new(ish) writing program called Scrivener which I really like. There is a panel down the lefthand side where you can have links to pictures, websites, research notes etc. I have a timeline there, character notes, my synopsis of the story, plus reference photos I’ve taken. I find that’s really good, but I can’t scan everything, so I still have the box.
The only time I was really organised was when I was writing Dragon Companion. I had so many notes I had to be organised. I put them all in alphabetical order. This is about half the folders I have.
I certainly don’t have the definitive research storage method. Any suggestions welcome.