by Tamera Lynn Kraft
All successful authors need to do research while planning their novels. Those in specialty genres such as medical or legal suspense or historical have even more research to do. Sometimes the amount of information needed becomes daunting. If you don’t organize your research, you could use valuable time hunting for a note you wrote on a post-it note or napkin instead of writing. Here are three tips for effectively organizing your research so you can find it when you need it.
Make a system for organizing your research that works for you. There are two computer programs that act like filing cabinets for your information. MS OneNote is my favorite and comes with most MS Office packages. One great feature on OneNote is that you can print any page from the internet directly to a file in your OneNote. Apple’s Evernote work similarly although I haven’t used it. The best part is both programs are free. If you are old school and like to have paper files, keep all of your research filed in a drawer of your filing cabinet.
Keep accurate notes on your research. Even sources that aren’t on the internet should be recorded. Note the book or magazine, author, and page number as well as they information you’ve gleaned so you can refer back to it at any time. There is another important reason to keep accurate records. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and you may need to prove your research and facts to an editor who doesn’t know the history.
Keep research organized in categories. Keeping your research organized in categories will help you find what you need when you need it. Here are some suggestions for historical research categories.
- Timeline of Events