How To Read Your Novel Notes

If you read my update post about my writing goals as well as my May Goals, you’ll know that I’m trying to get some more work down on my detective novel, George Florence.

Of course, in order to get any work done on this novel I need to go through all my notes, drafts, and research.

This has been a slow process.

how to read through your notes rachel poli

If you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen me tweeting now and again about my attempt at organizing everything I have for my novel.

I have notes, case ideas, evidence lists, research, timeline notes, feedback from my writer’s group (multiple feedback as I submit 20 pages a month), plus previous drafts I have edited myself. I can’t stress enough how overwhelming it all looks when it’s laid out together.

Before I do anything, I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts. But in order to do that, you need to be able to read your own notes.

There’s really no easy way to go through your novel notes. Not when you’ve been working on this specific novel for almost three years.

Thoughts while reading your notes:

1. “Different strangulation techniques…” Boy, I hope no one finds my research.
2. “3,000 bucks for an apartment?! Are you kidding me…?”
3. What does this mean?
4. What was I thinking when I wrote this?
5. What is this supposed to go to…?
6. Was this an idea for this novel or something else?
7. Look at all the research I have done! And I still haven’t made a dent…

Some notes I was able to make sense of. Others, not so much.

Then there was dialogue I created between George and Lilah that were too funny, but have yet to make it into the books. I know one is for a later book, but I have no idea where I’m going to fit the other conversation.

For example…

George: Why do they always look like zombies…?
Lilah: Well, they just killed someone! I would act like a zombie too being like, “Oh, my God! What did I just do…?” Unless I was super crazy and then I would be like, “Ha ha, look at what I just did!”

George (to Lilah): I bet you were the type of kid that poked dead things with a stick, huh?

This post was titled “How To Read Your Novel Notes,” wasn’t it? I guess that’s a bit misleading. Then again, I don’t really know how to go through my notes. I sifted through them wondering what to do with them and then eventually shoved them back into my notebook.

So I guess I wasn’t very helpful.

Have you ever had just too many ideas for a novel that you didn’t know what to do with them? Any notes you thought were funny or didn’t remember writing?

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Bookshelf (Part Two)


This month, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I decided to dedicate part two of the Bookshelf series to craft books on writing.

I have a lot more books about writing than I thought I did. The books are listed in a random order.

Bookshelf Part Two

1. The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood
2. The Amazing Story Generator by Jason Sacher
3. Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition by Robert Lee Brewer (edition updates each year)
4. The Everything Baby Names Book by June Rifkin
5. The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts by Martha Alderson
6. The Plot Whisperer Workbook by Martha Alderson
7. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers by Jack Canfield
8. 20 Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias
9. Take Ten for Writers by Bonnie Neubaur
10. Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein
11. 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto
12. The Write Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubaur
13. Blogging for Writers by Robin Houghton
14. How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir
15. Now Write! Mysteries by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson
16. Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror by Laurie Lamson
17. Writing Places by Paula Mathieu, George Grattan, Tim Lindgren, and Staci Shultz
18. Reading and Writing about Literature by Janet E. Gardner
19. Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark
20. No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty
21. The Art and Craft of Fiction by Michael Kardos
22. Police Procedure and Investigation by Lee Lofland
23. Forensics by D.P. Lyle
24. Book of Poisons by Serita Stevens and Anne Bannon

If there are any books you think I should add to this list, please let me know in the comments!

If you have an idea for a list I should make, feel free to Contact Me or let me know in the comments!

You can see my first list here: Disney Retellings Bookshelf.