Sunday, February 17, 2013


Eight years ago, with the help of my tech-savvy stepdad, my grandmother bought me a Dell Inspiron 1520 with all the bells and whistles. It was the Cadillac of affordable laptops, which is why it lasted me so long. I can still use it, but the thing is so beat up now. The memory is so full I don't have room for Spotify. The Z and B keys don't lock into place, so I can't name characters things that start with those two letters unless I want to stop each time I type in a character and force down the key. The hinges were busted so the lid wobbled.

Anyway, I was trying to ear enough credit card points to get a new computer for free. It took me a decade to earn half the points I need, so, you know, I was getting there. Then I got a check for some overpaid stuff and it was just enough to go to Best Buy in Hollywood and then home to research and then to Best Buy in Burbank where I finally committed to an HP Envy.

So, new computer. I spent a day transferring everything and loading all the software, like you do. In the process, I decided to take the opportunity to organize my documents folders.

When I first started writing screenplays it was sort of chaos - a file called "My Scripts" where I threw every draft. But sometimes drafts would end up in the Movie Magic folder instead. And sometimes I'd change up the method I used for identifying titles. I had started to organize a little better with the last script, but I'd never really cleaned it up completely

So with this transfer of things to my brand new shiny toy, I put it all on my external hard drive and then moved everything over one bit at a time so I could put it right. Now everything that wasn't organized is finally in place.

I have a folder for screenplays, and there's nothing in it but other folders. I have a folder for abandoned projects, a file for story ideas, a file for development stuff like cute lines of dialogue I heard someone say or an article I might want to think about using for inspiration. Then each script has its own file. Within each file is everything I used to develop the project, like a character sketch or an outline, or the other outline, or the final outline (I outline a lot). Then I have each draft of the script, always titled Name Of Project1, NameOfProject2, etc. Whatever is the last number is the most recent draft. I've never really needed to go back more than one version for any reason, but I keep all the drafts just in case.

I like being organized. I like being able to find things when I need them. So now I have a neatly organized desk and a neatly organized computer. Next up, I tackle the crap on Beefcake's desk behind me and all that random stuff on the floor that I don't want to look at.

How do you organize your stuff?


  1. Interesting post. It's always cool to see how other writers work and their processes. =)

    I removed everything on my desktop and organized it last year. Ended up with this as my set of programs.

    Final Draft -- The program
    Screenwriting -- The main folder
    Document -- Open Office document
    Wordpad -- For when I have some quick notes.
    Development -- abandoned project folder
    Script Stack -- collected screenplays folder
    Thesaurus -- Opens the Oxford PDF
    Dictionary -- Opens the Merriam-Webster program
    Music -- to play some Dark Knight scores
    PDF -- Pdf program
    Stopwatch -- A stopwatch/timer program.

    But obviously, everything gets tossed in the development folder without a thought. I always like the idea of being organized, but that seems to fade away after a week.

  2. Mine is pretty simple:

    Three folders:

    1. Scripts with a sub-folder for PDF versions.

    2. Notes with a sub-folder for each script that includes notes, ideas outlines etc.

    3. Query letters.

    Understanding the financial situation but this is the first blog I've read that someone actually and intentional went out a purchased a non-Mac computer. :)

    And which Envy did you get? 15" or 17"?

  3. Thanks for the replies! I like seeing the different ways people approach this stuff.

    Don Santiago, it's not about money. I do not care for Macs. That's just my personal preference. I got a 15".

  4. I'm adding this reply because I appreciate this blog and try and support it however I can and think this might help someone -- over the years I've worked with colaborators, editors, producers and others so I've had to develop a labelling system that keeps it all clear. I've also found that it is good for me to have a file for every day I work on a script because things I threw out last week have a way of being resurrected for whatever reason. So if I'm working on a script called "Big Deal Spec" every file regarding that project -- whether notes, script, contract, correspondence, starts with "BDS" -- for each day I work on it I start the day with BDS-2-22-13 -- as in the day I did that work -- if I'm working with a collaborator then I inject my initial into the file -- BDS-B-2-22-13 -- then comes the redline issue -- as notes from agent/manager/producer/whoever get processed it's important to be able to generate a redline for your editor/mgr etc. to look at to check the new changes -- towards the last stages of these revisions I might have to generate 3 or 4 redline scripts in a day -- so the script that started as BDS-2-22-13 - then got notes and became BDS--2-22-13A with the redline showing only those changes from the version the note giver read -- further notes = BDS-2-22-13B and the redline generated from running comparedoc on the A and B scripts. My huge regret at moving back to PC from MAC with MMSW is the redline feature doesn't really work on PC. Love Movie Magic otherwise. Filing is a whole other thing for me -- since we can search hard drives so easily it's secondary in my opinion to labelling.

  5. thanks for share.


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