Organizing Your Reseach and Writing

While TBC couldn’t attend every panel at the Compleat Biographer Conference, with assistance from New York correspondent Dona Munker, we offer capsule reviews of seven, including this one.

At this session, three BIO members teamed up to illustrate how to make storing research, retrieving it, and writing itself easier and more productive. First a handout presentation by the moderator described a filing system developed from MS Word for organizing research for a study of a years-long love affair between a suffragist and a philosophical anarchist. The chronological arrangement not only makes retrieval easier but gives the author an overview of the narrative arc in each section.

Panelists Victoria Olsen and Barbara McManus then used PowerPoint slides to illustrate up-to-date electronic tools for nonfiction writers and researchers. Olsen compared the advantages and limitations of four programs while concentrating on Zotero, a free storage and data-sharing software for serious researchers that can be viewed and downloaded here.  (For a comparison with other programs of this type, go here.) McManus discussed Scrivener, a low-cost, user-friendly program with a wide array of tools for making research easier to access during the writing process. Scrivener, which is available in both Mac and Windows versions, can also create flexible outlines and instantaneously format source notes, or even the entire book, for electronic or print publication.  A free 30-day download is available here. For more information about organizing software, go here.

–Dona Munker

Dona Munker, the moderator of “Organizing Your Research and Writing,” is the writer and co-author of Daughter of Persia: A Woman’s Journey from Her Father’s Harem through the Islamic Revolution. Over the next two weeks, she will be posting more about organizing on her blog about writing biography.