5 Tools for Organizing Your Novel Research

I love to research - especially when it pertains to writing novels. But more often than not I get so caught up in the actual research that a lot of times I will consume information without actually organizing it for future reference. I try to keep a notebook nearby while reading books for research, only to end up at the end of the book with no notes on the pad. Or I’ll listen to podcasts without jotting down the main takeaways. I can’t even imagine how much time I have lost looking for a specific article, or trying to figure out where I saw the perfect image for the inspiration of a scene setting.

A couple of months ago I started to focus heavily on productivity and one component of that is organizing my novel research. So, for the past couple of months I have been fine-tuning an organized approach to gathering research and making it readily available. So far, it seems to be working out. I’ll keep you updated!

5 Tools to Organize Your Novel Research

1. SCRIVENER: I love Scrivener for writing and blogging, but for the longest time I wasn’t using it to it’s fullest potential. Scrivener has a folder specifically dedicated to research. You can find this in the binder on the left-hand side of the window. You can use the “notecards” to take notes for easy reference, drag and drop articles and images, and even add full pages of notes. Then, when you’re writing your first draft, all your research is right at your fingertips. This has made a world of difference in my blogging efforts as well as saving time as I write the first drafts of my novels.


2. PINTEREST: I hadn’t really thought about using Pinterest as an organization tool for writing until recently, though it really does make perfect sense. In the past, I always looked at it as a place to save neat decorating ideas, recipes to try, and crafts to fail at (they never look like they do on Pinterest!) But recently I created a new author Pinterest account. You can find it here. One of the boards I created is called Book Research. This is a place I can pin images, articles, and anything else I find relating to book research. You can either click on the Pin It button found on a lot of images, use the Pinterest “Pin It” button in your toolbar (you’ll have to add this option to the toolbar in Firefox, Safari, etc.), or you can click on the + sign in the bottom lefthand corner of the board itself and upload a file from your computer.


3. NOTES APP: The Notes App on my phone is invaluable. When I have an idea or need to jot down some notes, I use the Notes App. I can then email the note to myself, text it, or move it to Dropbox.


4. DICTATION: Dictation is another way to get my notes down quickly. If you have a thought and just want to get it out of your head as soon as possible, try dictating it. You can then email the file to yourself for later review and transcription (either manually or through a program such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, etc.)


5. DROPBOX: I use Dropbox mainly when collaborating on projects with others. I find it’s the easiest way to share scenes and large documents, it allows all participants easy access to files, and organizes all components of the project.

Another tool that didn’t make the list, but I still like to use is Google Docs. Again, this is a great tool when collaborating on projects, and I use it mostly with my coaching clients.

I’m all about being more productive and organized this year, how about you? How do you organize your novel research? I’d love to hear about the tools you use in the comments below!

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