The Three Word Documents That Will Help You Write Your Novel

Hey there! Today I wanted to share with you the word documents (besides the manuscript itself) that I always maintain when I’m writing a novel or novella. I don’t know if this will help if you’re trying to figure out how to write a novel faster, but I do think it’s a good way to keep things organized! If you use Scrivener rather than Word, the same principles can still apply.


The Three Word Documents That Will Help You Write Your Novel #writing advice #how to write a novel faster


When you’re writing a first draft, issues and changes will occur to you as you go. You can keep going back again and again to change things, but sometimes that can kill your momentum. On the other hand, you don’t want to forget about them.

If you keep a document called “fix list,” you can use it to keep track of all of the things you need to change. Once your first draft is done or you just feel like you’re at a stopping point, you can go back and address all those issues.


Short snippets of dialogue, random descriptions, and other fragments may pop into your mind as you’re writing your draft. The stuff that comes spontaneously into your head is often really good material – but you may not even know where it goes yet.

Don’t lose it! Keep it all together in a document called “bits and pieces.” (Since I don’t always have my computer with me, I often write snippets like this down in my planner or my phone, and transfer it to this document later.)


Here’s something I used to do. I’d cut out a short exchange between characters, or even a whole scene… and then later, I’d regret it and wind up re-writing it again. So annoying, and such a waste of time! If you keep all your deleted material in a document, it’s there for you in case you change your mind.



After every writing session, don’t forget to back up these documents, if you’ve changed them, as well as your manuscript. I email mine to myself and I often use a USB drive as well, though USB drives can fail eventually.

Do you have any suggestions for keeping things organized as you write? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Happy writing!

6 Replies to “The Three Word Documents That Will Help You Write Your Novel”

  1. Great tips! I do keep a delete file for outtakes snipped from one chapter that can find a home in another.
    As for a fix list, I usually don’t try to fix anything while I’m cruising. However, if there’s something glaring at me, I’ll change font to red for a sentence or paragraph. Also, if my story is plodding along and I need to write something detailed, like a fight scene that requires a lot of choreography, I’ll type FIGHT SCENE GOES HERE and keep writing.
    Never thought about keeping a separate file for Bits n Pieces. It’s a great idea.

    1. Hi Erneso! Ahh, that’s a good idea about red type — I don’t know why I never thought of that! I definitely put placeholders for scenes like that, too, sometimes because I need to do more research.

      Thanks so much for commenting 🙂 Happy almost holidays!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Bryn! I’ve been using two documents, one with The Story, one with Unused Bits, both including things to fix. I use this method for fan fiction, original fiction, and non-fiction.

    It might be faster if I tried your idea to keep a separate Fix It document, so I could hone in on those details quickly instead of drowning in the distractions of the main text.

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