Keeping track of the chapters you’ve written

chaptersHello, I’m back! The mistress of old school. The beauty of this piece of paper is that all the chapters (or most of them) are visible at a glance. Writing programs will obviously show much more but that can be distracting. Along with my notebook and my record of pages written (see previous post) this is actually all the paper I deal with in writing. The rest is on my laptop. Oh and one draft I print out and edit on paper.

I usually keep this record only on my first draft and my last. The chapter list not only helps me keep a track of my chapters but the length of them. Luckily for me I name my chapters and by looking at the list I can see, for instance, that The Casino is 6 1/2 pages and Berry’s Bay is only 4 1/2. I can also look at the flow of the scenes. Generally, for me anyway, a chapter that is a bit short is often a problem chapter and needs more attention. The Winter Garden, for instance, does seem to be a bit short to me when I consider what happens in that chapter and the page count of the others.

Everyone is different in how they write of course but for me this list is too impractical for the next few drafts. My second, third and fourth drafts are the ones where I’m constantly adding or deleting pages. Therefore it would drive me (and most people) mad writing such a record out each time.

For the last draft though, it is very useful. I generally write it out again noting the changes in the chapters and also adding a word count for each chapter which gives me a final manuscript tally. If you don’t already keep such a record you might find it handy! I would love to hear what types of writing records you keep!



28 thoughts on “Keeping track of the chapters you’ve written

  1. Well, I’m very new to novel writing. Before I started my trilogy, I had only just written shot stories, so everything is new to me, still now.
    But the first thing I learned is that you can’t write a novel out of your head, just like that, as you do with a shot. Sooner or later, you have to plan it.

    I wrote the first draft of the entire trilogy in three months, pouring it on the page… ehm… screen, but when I started revising I realised I couldn’t cope with it the way I did with short stories. So I asked fellow writers what they did to keep track of the story, because mine was stomping all over me. One of them suggested Liquid Story Binder, a writing program. And I’m telling you, I love it!!!

    The tool that really helped me is the listing, where you can list whatever you want and move lines up and down as you need it. I wrote a list not of chapters, but of scenes, and boy, you have no idea how much going up and down those lines did!!
    On every line I note the POV character, the character whose arc the scene belongs to (not necessarily the POV character) and a very brief summary of the scene. I like the LSB listing because when I wrote the first two revisions scenes kept changing form and position and the program allows you a great freedom in this regard.
    But I also have to confess I do a lot of handwriting when it comes to planning a scene (I don’t know why, handwriting helps my thinking process), so it’s actually a combination of computer programs and good old handwriting 🙂


    • The LSB program sounds intriguing. Well done with your writing. It sounds like you have got a method of writing and organising that suits you.
      It is interesting that you use handwriting to plan the scenes!


  2. I admire your organisation!
    i type directly onto the computer screen, now and then checking the word-count…That’s it, I’m afraid. I don’t even write a synopsis. Oh well, to each his (or her) own… 🙂


  3. I’m one of those who have tried all kinds of ways to keep track of my writing – without much success.

    However, with the on-going advancements of the computer age, I’ve found making folders on my thumb drives (never ever ever on my computer’s hard drive as I just can’t trust them) the chapters have names then a number after them. I put the chapters into their own folder of a book name and that book goes into another folder which has a genre name on it.

    Sounds complex, but really it keeps all my writing – whether it’s exotica or horror – in a kind of order.


      • Right now, I’m working on getting my Fry Nelson book edited… and finishing off the last few chapters of book 3 of that one! So pleased it’s almost done with the writing part of it! 😀

        And then, I’ve just started writing an Angelic Romance… very much into researching as I go with this one. I have had a lot of good romance writers help me with the love and sex scenes – which is good because I’m not good at all with love scenes, but I can scare the crud outa ya. 😀


      • Wow! How do you find the time? I am struggling to work on just one book. What is your website again and I’ll check it out. Good luck with both books!


  4. Hey Debbie,

    I don’t have a day job… well, I do, but I work for myself. But seeing I’ve been working on Fry Nelson for over 5 years, and I’m close to the end, I jump into it whenever i want to so I can finish it… and the Angelic Romance is something that was inspired from ‘Supernatural’… but I’m putting my own spin on it. 😀


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