The following are some of the tags I’ve evolved to help me organize and retrieve my writing notes.
I rely on two sorts of tags, those relating to GTD or workflows, and those relating to story notes.
The story note tags are quite straightforward, here they are:
5alien, 5atmosphere, 5bio, 5character, 5colour, 5ek, 5place, 5plotlet, 5scene, 5structure, 5tech
In case you’re wondering, an ek is an eyeball kick:
Vivid, telling details that create a kaleidoscopic effect of swarming visual imagery against a baroquely elaborate SF background. One ideal of cyberpunk SF was to create a “crammed prose” full of “eyeball kicks.” (Attr. Rudy Rucker)
I write SF so the alien tag should be no surprise. As my story worlds are all tagged, I can easily search for 5aliens in the 3recursion universe.
Possibly of more interest are my workflow tags.
I started out following GTD, labelling all my notes TODO NEXT or DONE. That worked out pretty well in my daily life, but not in my writing life. Over the years I’ve settled on the following
conceit -> idea -> story -> developing -> next/working -> staged -> published/used -> archived
What’s the difference between a conceit, an idea and a story?
The first two are explained in the Turkey City Lexicon. Here’s my thinking on the process by which a conceit becomes a story.
I get lots of ideas – I think most writers would say the same – however most of them are never used. Looking back through my notes I can see ideas that I’ve not had time to use, ideas that don’t go anywhere, ideas that just don’t seem that interesting now. Some ideas I don’t even remember what I was thinking when I wrote them down. But occasionally I will see an idea that joins with another idea and sparks something. When enough ideas join themselves together they become a story.
What’s the difference between next and working?
This is something I think many writers will experience. A story marked next is something that has to be done to a deadline, that’s why I’ve applied GTD to it. Something tagged as working is something that I’m ermmm… working on. I tend to work on stories over periods of months or even years so this tag indicates something I will keep coming back to. When inspiration fails, or when I’m looking for a next project, or simply because I want to move on, I bring up all the things I’m working on and decide what to concentrate on next.
When a story is completed it will be staged, ready to be submitted. Hopefully I will someday be able to tag it as published.