ORGANIZING THE WRITING CHAOS (pt 1): An Easy Writing Filing System

Perhaps I am the ultimate paradox: an organized writer. In a world of 7,000,000,000+ people, I am sure I am not the only writer who is organized. How we are unlike is the way we are organized.

Because I was a businessperson with my own firm and used business techniques to reach my goals, I attempted to apply these to writing. Some techniques worked. Some didn’t. The biggest frustration was very inability to have an easy writing filing system.

Muse insists on tossing beautiful idea gems when I am doing research, doing nothing, doing anything. I had no way to find these precious bobbles quickly, nor connect them with others once found.

That is, until Muse insisted I start using OneNote. And once implemented, she let loose with a storm of novels and series ideas that has not slowed, nor do I expect her to.

In business, long before David Allen wrote Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, these methods were standard. One of the pillars of his, or any organization method, is setting up an easy reference filing system. For me, that has become OneNote. And, now, it’s free for everyone!

Update to Hiveword after use

I like it. With the WIP having 7 vp characters, many non-vp characters, and bunches of settings, Hiveword lets me organize it somewhat easily. The Scenes Setting lets me scan down my 117 scenes and check on things like too many scenes in one place. The setting title could have time and weather, too. I haven’t gotten that far in the plotting yet.


That said, I had to number the scenes. It was easy for me add the scene # with the title in Hiveword. Until I discovered I’d forgotten to add a character. I use an Excel  spreadsheet to plot the characters’ order of appearance. When I added the forgotten character, the spreadsheet was easy to update the scene numbers because I have one column that adds +1 to the previous scene number. Not so, Hiveword. I had 109 scenes and needed to add 8 more, spread out in different acts. I had to open every scene, click on the title, change the number, and then save it.

But, moving the scenes around was easy with the Scene Sorter. Just move the scene square where you want it!


With the setting scene filter to view one setting, the program dims the other scenes. (There is a place to check mark to hide “unmatched scenes.”)


You can filter scenes in the Scene Sorter, too.


This lets me think where inside this building these should take place, or if the vp characters should have different interpretations of the setting to add conflict. I numbered the scenes as 2-1 and 2-2 when in the scene is in more than one location.

The Scene by Plotline gives a view much like my Excel worksheet, except I have titles in the squares. Not a major difference. Since this has a New Scene option, I might try plotting scenes here first next time.



I’ll update as I use Hiveword more.


There’s a new Writing Software kid on the block and its name is Hiveword, by Writer’s Knowledge Base. Well, a couple of years old or so.

It has a row of buttons across the top like most websites, but these take you to different parts of the program.

DASHBOARD lists your existing stories & lets you set up new ones.


PROMPTS takes you to a James Scott Bell program that sounds interesting and I’ll try in the future.


SCENES lets you start a new scene, list your scenes, or sort them by: Setting, POV, Character, Plotline, or tag.


CHARACTERS lets you add a character, list characters, or generate character names.


When you add a character, they have a black character char to fill in. I’m filling it in because I can then “print” it to OneNote.

SETTING lets you add a new setting, list settings, or generate new setting.

The new setting is a place for a name & a blank “notes.” Sufficient.

The generator gives you a list of real places with a link to Google maps or Wikipedia.


PLOTLINES again gives you a New, list, Scenes by plotline


Trying to decide how to use this is tricky. Since I can list POV characters, I don’t want to waste Plotline ability by listing characters, so–for now–I’m listing Plotlines as “Character Name – Action” and “Character Name – Reaction” to see if I’m consistent.

TAGS lets you add & sort by whatever. Every “new” (character, setting, etc) has a place to add a tag.

I’m going to use it for symbols, theme, accessories (canes, etc)–I think.

Strengths: the sorting function. Making sure I’m not repeating or conflicting with previous character or setting or theme descriptions.

Limits: 1) lack of ability to add pictures or links
2) Lack of ability to personalize aspects–but this is in the works

If you use it or try it, come back and give us your thoughts, and ways you use it, your “wishes it had” and “don’t uses” features.