• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • GoodReads
  • BookBub
 Newsletter Sign-Up

The Notebook

I was asked recently how I start writing a book. Well, I’ll let you in on a super secret: it all starts with the right notebook. Really.

And it can’t be just any notebook. I like colored ones. I have two that I work between–one that is sort of lime green and the other is bright blue. I like those colors because when my office turns into a bomb scene, either because I am in full writing/research/what the heck did I call that butler mode, my office can get a tad bit messy. So a neon bright notebook stands out and at the very least I can find my working pages.

Here is the one I’ve got started for the book I am calling Pippin & the Pirate. That’s just the working title, so don’t start looking for it.

The first step in getting a notebook together is getting just the right cover sheet. Normally this means a trip over to Candice Hern’s Print Collections where I find just the most perfect fashion plate and, ahem, borrow it for the cover. Sorry for the lopsided photo. I’ve tried for like the last 45 minutes to fix it and I’ve lost patience. But you get the point. Actually this isn’t the right print and I will probably be swapping it out for this one of Lyme Regis when it was hit with a storm last March. Fits the mood of the book better.

Well, you really shouldn’t judge a notebook by its cover, so what’s inside this notebook that makes it work, at least for me? Well, I have it divided into chapters, and then into various reference sections in the back. I like having all the chapters neatly divided because I will go back to make changes while I am writing and with the notebook at my elbow, I just flip it open to the right spot in the book, make a hasty note and go back to the pages on the screen. I never go back and rewrite sections of the book until I am completely done with the manuscript.

Since these characters, Pippin and Dash, have appeared in so many other books, I have copied out their previous scenes so I have them readily at hand. I also keep all the notes I take in my pre-writing stages. I hand write out notes and ideas about chapters before I compose it on the computer and I file these notes away once the chapter is complete because sometimes when I am rewriting, I go back to those initial thoughts as a starting point to see where it was I intended to go with a scene, what happened when I was writing it and if the final sequence is missing something. This is what a note page might look like:

In the research section, I currently have pages I’ve copied from the internet on Turkish Delight. Well, who said hunting recipes on the internet isn’t a good use of your time! I’ll be adding pictures and diagrams of ships, history timelines and fashion plates from the years that the story covers. My notebook is like my security blanket, but also the end of my procrastination and hemming and hawing about getting to work. With a notebook at the ready, there is no excuse but to write.

So you’ll excuse me while I get to work . . .

3 comments to “The Notebook”

  1. Miranda Lucas
    May 12th, 2008 at 10:51 am · Link

    It’s nice to see what goes behind writing a book. I like the colour coordination idea, seems helpful for a graduate student. Can’t wait to read Pippin’s story!!!

  2. Haven Rich
    May 15th, 2008 at 12:04 am · Link

    Oh Elizabeth, you always amazing me with your organization skills. I know you swear that your office explodes, which I don’t doubt, but you keep your writing very focused.

    I have so much to learn!

    BTW, sorry I haven’t been around. I’ve been super busy.

  3. Margaret Garland
    May 19th, 2008 at 3:36 pm · Link

    I don’t know how I missed this blog. So sorry. It’s fascinating to read what you go thru in creating a story.

    Thank you for sharing.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram GoodReads BookBub

Search Site

Where to now?

Privacy Policy Cookie Policy

Elizabeth Boyle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com.
If you purchase a book listed on the site from Amazon.com, she’ll earn a small commission. Thank you!