Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Spiral Notebooks Reviewed

Keyboard or Spiral Notebook?

writing notebook
Spiral notebooks come in handy for an author
image courtesy of pixabay.com
Spiral notebooks are not just for students attending school. Let me review how this author uses them on a daily basis. 

When writing a manuscript, I use my laptop keyboard for the bulk of the work. I guess that is probably a no brainer. Although, I do know authors who write it all out in long-hand before they type it up for submission or publication. Honestly, for me that would never work. When the story is flowing, my hand wouldn't be able to keep up with my brain if I were writing it down with a pen or pencil. I might be able to scribble it out but it would just that...scribbles that I would not be able to read later.

What I use my spiral notebooks for

While working on a book, I write down a copious amount of notes. I'll be honest, sometimes those are done on scrap pieces of paper, especially if I am researching something that won't be a recurring piece of a series of books. For instance, in the 4th book of my Roni Rainer mystery series I needed to be sure I understood how an APB (all points bulletin) worked. My notes about that were on scrap paper because the information would be disposable after I finished that particular book. Funny thing happened on the way to writing the story, I found out that not many law agencies use that term any longer. The acronym BOLO (be on the look-out) is more commonly used today. (Good to know.) Obviously, being a stickler to details I used BOLO in the book, but I digress.

My spiral notebooks are used for things that will show up many times in a series. You know, like characters, buildings, towns, and things like that. So, I have a notebook dedicated to those little tidbits. Each character has a section reminding me of their full name and nickname. Their date of birth, physical attributes, personality traits, and any relationships they might be in. Trust me that comes in real handy for characters that just pop-in and out of the books! 

Places have a special section, too. What State does the story take place in? What county? The town and neighboring towns need to be recorded. What are the street names? Which streets intersect with each other?  I wouldn't want to say that Roni's shop is on the corner of Main Street and 2nd Street in one place and then later say it was 3rd Street or even something entirely different. I guess that I could but as a reader those sorts of things drive me up a wall. 

I even have a section for buildings in my spiral notebooks. Yep, I need to be able to look back and see how I described a building once in a while. If I have described Roni's business building as two-story and then have someone go to the third floor, people are going to pick-up on that. At least, I would as a reader.


The devil is in the details


Nothing bugs me more as a reader than the author not being consistent. If an author has told me that a character has blonde hair and blue eyes and then later someone looks into her green eyes; that really gets my blood boiling. So, I pay attention to details as I write and the most efficient way for me to accomplish that is with notebooks. If it might come up again, it gets recorded for me to refer back to. Sure, I could create a file but it is actually faster to look in the notebook. At least for me it is. 

Now, that I have begun a new series of cozy mysteries I need more notebooks! The series will be called Cabin 9 Mysteries. The same pieces of information will be kept in a notebook for those stories, too. It is the only way I can keep it all straight. I'll need to remember that these characters are not in the fictional county of Butler, Indiana where Roni lives. No, they will be in the fictional county of Fairburn, Indiana. The spiral notebooks will help me keep it all consistent. Want a little hint about this new series? Taylor, the main character, can see and talk to dead people! Her great-aunt Magdalene is a hoot and also a spirit who doesn't want to leave Cabin 9. Stay tuned for more details!

As a side note, there is a reason that my fictional towns are in Indiana. I grew up here. I know the terrain, the climate, the flora and fauna, the local phrases, laws, and foods. I can portray it more realistically for my readers. Have you ever read a book that you could tell the author had never ever been in the place they have as their setting?  I've recently read two of them! Why would you write a story that takes place in a country you have never been to? If you are going to attempt that feat, at least do a whole lot of research about the area. Please! It annoys your readers if you get it wrong!

Anyway, I think you get my point on the need for spiral notebooks as an author. Do you use them for something different? I have found them a great thing to have extras of when the grandchildren visit. We can draw together, we can practice our math, we can practice our letters and sometimes we write a story together. We NEVER do those things in Grandma's "special" notebooks. Not ever!




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7 comments:

  1. I can see how a spiral notebook would be essential for a writer! Yes, those little details annoy me too when reading a book. Being consistent with details is extremely important. I really love your commitment to detail as well as organization. We always have new spiral notebooks around our home. They come in very handy for lots of things. Would you believe I keep my passwords in one? I have often thought an alphabetized book would be better, but I guess I am simply more comfortable with my spiral notebooks.

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  2. I love that you pay such close attention to consistency when writing your novels. The issues you mentioned that drive you up a wall in some other authors’ writing really resonates with me. Those jarring inconsistencies not only annoy me, they pull me outside the fictional world the author has worked so hard to pull me into. Your diligence in keeping and referring to detailed notes about your characters, buildings, locations and timelines is appreciated, and using spiral notebooks for those notes seems like a system that really works for you! Thanks for this fascinating glimpse into another aspect of your process as a novelist.

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  3. Oh yes, I agree -- it's aggravating when characters' eye color changes or buildings move around town or add floors magically. Details! I use shorthand pads like you use spiral notebooks -- I got stuck on shorthand pads when I was in the work force, and I still use them for my daily list. and I absolutely have to have pastel 4x6 index cards - for grocery lists (easy to find in my purse), passwords and other important information on the internet. I have not yet written a book of fiction, but will certainly borrow your ideas when I do. PS I look forward to your next series!

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  4. I loved reading about your tactics on writing your books. You can tell that you really pay attention to details. I am a real fan of your books and it is great to say I know the author when I recommend them to others. :)

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  5. Definitely use notebooks for writing old school! And to staple my little scraps of paper too as to not get lost (seems those little scraps of paper always have the best ideas!)

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  6. I agree, Bev. Spiral notebooks are very handy and helpful. I use them also for notes about specific things and one as an ongoing scorepad for a card game my son & I play weekly. I also use 3-ring binders with dividers to store information needed over and over most days. Love the "behind-the-scenes" look into your writing style. Look forward to your new series.

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  7. Thank you Bev, for letting me know how you manage to keep all those characters and details straight. I would have a crazy time trying to do that myself. I love stories that are full of characters that I feel I know. You do this so well in your Roni Rainer mysteries (I have read them all). Now I know how you manage to keep me in the story too! Thanks and I hope you never run out of 3 ringed spiral notebooks.

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