Thursday, 3 November 2011

Still loving my book-planning filofax!

A few weeks ago, I bought another domino A5 in ultraviolet in the WHSmiths sale (£18) to use as a writing filofax. Not like my other writing filofax, which covers almost everything – this is specifically for planning the new novel. (The original contents of the filofax are for sale on here (and on the Philofaxy site) by the way, if anyone is still after a 2012 WO2P diary or dividers etc!).
So, with a now completely empty binder, I set up my ‘book-planning’ filofax. A (small) part of me had wondered if I was using ‘book-planner’ as an excuse to buy another filofax (surely not!) but I can happily report, a few weeks down the line that this is absolutely not the case and I am really loving using the filofax for planning. Having it A5 is big enough to write in and also is perfect for printing out my own templates for the planner.
I set up new dividers in it (sorry – filofax ones are just too dull) using some lovely purple card stock and a silver gel-pen (see here). The sections are shown below. 

the sections (using top-tabs)
In each of the sections:
Plot: this has a mind-map like chart of the different plot-lines on an A4 sheet, trimmed slightly and folded and punched to fit, plus several sheets of notes about the plot and the forensics etc. (it’s another murder…)
Timeline: I always have to have a timeline to make sure that someone doesn’t end up pregnant for 12 months or that they know things before they should (or indeed have happened!). I downloaded the DIY planner widget today so that I could print out page per day lined diary sheets. What a fantastic resource for writers (amongst others)! You can set the date range to almost anything you want, which is always handy for when you’re writing something set in 1998 or whatever. The current novel is set in 2011 so it wasn’t quite as tricky to sort out, but it was great to know I have that resource should I need it. I made up a couple of months of page-per-day sheets (simple lined so I can scribble lots of things on them) and I have also printed out the same time-range on week-on-a-page, so I can have an overview too.

page to day on left; weekly summary on right
Scenes: this is a section for detailed scene planning – from the order in which the scenes should come, to details of the scene. I used some modified templates from DIY planner for these, booklet printed to make 4xA5 sheets. This is the real heart of the planner in many ways.
Notes: things to check or look up; odd phrases or things to remember in a scene; various other notes…
Paper: several pages of blank paper. Although I have got filofax paper (as an A5 pad which came with the filofax) I’m still tending to use home-made lined paper because then it is fountain-pen friendly. There is of course, a pad-slot in the back of the domino which would have worked okay as a place for paper/capture, but then I wouldn’t be able to use fountain pen and I don’t like my writing in much else.
Character notes: a series of notes plus character dossiers for each main character. Minor characters just get a page of notes. The character dossiers were designed by me and run for 12 pages and list all the things I need to reference about each character (from eye/hair colour to background/back story/names of pets etc. etc. etc.). The notes pages are jottings or an expansion of the dossier.
Right at the back I have a plastic top-opening pocket to protect the back pages and put scraps of paper/things in as needed.

The benefits of using an A5 domino filofax for all of this are :
a) I can print all my own sheets for using in it (on fountain-pen friendly paper)
b) I can re-file and move things as and when needed. When I used a bound A4 Moleskine for planning, the inability to be able to move things around did annoy me! 
c) the domino has a hard enough cover to be able to lean on it whilst out and about and was cheap enough for me not to get precious about it banging around in a bag (though in fairness, it tends to live on my desk)
d) the 30mm rings let me put huge amounts in it without it all getting squished.

Anyway, I’m still delighted that it’s working out so well and I hope you enjoyed reading about it.
Now back to writing the book!


  1. Fantastic post. For your readers is like being inside the head of the writer, as she creates the plot!

  2. @gdigesu
    Thank you!! Glad you liked the post!

  3. How lovely!!! I am loving this post, having never really spent too much time thinking about how a writer would go about planning a book (other than in the very brief - how do they do that? kind of way). And those top tabs - beautiful!!!

  4. Wow, this is awesome! I've always had a nagging desire to write a novel- I'll have to keep this in mind if I get around to it!