Friday Speak Out!: Using Evernote and Word to Organize, Guest post by Linda Brown Holt

Friday, July 26, 2013
Keeping notes on index cards is fine, but if you have Word and a good browser, you can use free technology to help you keep track of facts and ideas more efficiently as you write your historical novel. These tips apply to research conducted online as well as through print media, interviews, and so forth.

In writing my novel, The Black Spaniard, about the early years of Beethoven, I have found the following resources very helpful:

· Evernote. This free organizational system is easy to use if you stick to basics. Create notebooks for your novel and for subcategories. When you find a Web page with info that you want to refer to again, simply drop it into your novel’s main notebook or subcategory.

For example, I have a notebook called The Black Spaniard, but I also have subcategory notebooks titled 1-TBS-Friends, 1-TBS-History, etc. (TBS stands for The Black Spaniard). This also helps you avoid unintentional plagiarism, since the source URL is saved with the file. To download, go to . (See example 1)

Example 1

· Word Files. This should work with other word processing programs, too. I have a file folder in My Documents titled, The Black Spaniard. For a while, I was keeping subcategory notebooks within it, but I found it was easier for me just to stash all my Word documents, such as daily work, what happened in different years, etc., rather than put them in folders. When I need a document fast, I use the Search tool. I am a rather chaotic person and that works for me; but if you are logical and organized to begin with, you may want to make subfolders for categories. (See example 2)

Example 2
· Word Documents. I am writing about the years 1770 through 1804, so I have a single Word document for most of those years. I insert a table that shows five seasons for each year (winter, spring, summer, fall, winter) and plug in reminders or data that will be helpful when my story moves to that time period. (See example 3)

· Documents Relating to Trips, Expenses. You can create notebooks in Evernote and folders/files in Word to keep track of work-related travel, expenses, and so forth. These can be stashed with your creative work and research or kept separate depending on your personal style.

While writing on index cards worked well in the past, I find that technology has enabled me to keep track of information and sources for The Black Spaniard much more quickly and efficiently. With the individual Word documents for every year covered in my novel, I find that the book is practically writing itself, and I don’t have to interrupt the creative flow to go look up a character or event. With this easy-to-use system, you’ll find that writing a historical novel has never been easier or more enjoyable!

 Linda Brown Holt teaches Humanities courses with Southern New Hampshire University and Thomas Edison State College. A former journalist, she is the author of two novellas under the penname, Simone Marnier, and is currently writing a novel about young Beethoven. Her Web site is, and she tweets @ReligiousSchola and @PoetOfZen .


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Margo Dill said...

Linda: These are excellent tips. I wish I would have known about Evernote when I was writing my historical fiction middle-grade. AND I love the idea of the table with the seasons--excellent idea. I could have done that for the months. . .oh well, there's always next time. :) Thanks for your post!

Mel Kinnel (@TizMellyMel) said...

I've never heard of Evernote but it seems like a fantastic tool. Thanks for sharing!

dolorah said...

Wow, what a highly organized writer. I hadn't heard of Evernote either. I keep a word document labeled research for whatever WIP I'm working on so I can easily find facts and links.

Good suggestions.


LuAnn Schindler said...

Love, love, LOVE Evernote! It's on my phone and tablet so I can sync all the data, depending which form of technologoy I'm using!

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