Organize Your Research with Notes at One Stop for Writers

The last time Rodney Buxton was here, he shared some helpful information about how authors can export their One Stop for Writer’s Export material directly to Scrivener. Many of you reached out to let us know that you weren’t aware of that option, so we were super excited to get the word out. Rodney is back today to discuss another helpful One Stop research feature that you may now know about or possibly aren’t getting the most use from. Enjoy!

Before I started using One Stop for Writers, I purchased The Emotion Thesaurus on Amazon, then The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and so on. After starting to use One Stop for Writers I fell in love with having all the thesauruses available to use online, but I ran into a problem: often, more than one entry applied to what I was working on, and in a given entry, only a few lines might apply. I ended up with multiple books lying open and half a dozen browser tabs open as I frantically flipped back and forth between all of them looking for the crucial details I knew were there. Little did I know that One Stop for Writers has a solution for this. It’s called Notes.

The Notes Feature at One Stop for Writers

When I first saw this feature, I thought it was just a place for me to add my thoughts to an existing entry. And this is possible; if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for in a thesaurus entry, just scroll to the bottom and create a note for that entry that can be kept in your workspace. I also knew that I could highlight the details that I wanted to use from an entry and save it to a note (so I wouldn’t have to go back through the whole entry later to find it). 

What I didn’t know was that I could use a note to collect information from multiple thesaurus entries and save it to a specific project. This changed everything. Here’s how it works:

Collecting Info from Various Sources into One Note

Let’s say you’re doing some setting research. My current book contains a scene set in Highgate Cemetery in London, so let’s start there. First, head to the Setting Thesaurus and locate the graveyard entry. 

When you find multisensory details that might work, highlight the line(s). A pop-up appears that says “Send to Notes.” 

You’ll be prompted to create a new note for the highlighted details or add it to an existing note in your workspace. Then you can choose to save the note loosely in your workspace or add it to a project. The latter is a great way to keep all your research and materials for a story in one spot.

This is good, you’re gathering some good details for your cemetery setting. But hold on—there’s also an entry for a mausoleum. If you find details there that you might be able to use, highlight them and add them to the note you just made. Maybe you want to add some information about the emotions your character will be experiencing in the scene, or track some symbolism possibilities. Use the same process to record information from the various thesauruses and collect it all into one handy note.

Formatting a Note

But what if a note is getting a little long, and it’s hard to know exactly what you’ve collected in there? No problem. Just edit it.

In your Workspace, open the note you want and click the Edit button at the bottom. Now you can arrange your data so it’s easy to identify and access. 

I like to add headers for the information, so I’ll add Sounds, Smells, Emotions—whatever applies. This can also be done as you’re adding items, but doing it when I’m finished gives me a chance to make sure I have everything I want and remove items I no longer need. The edit window also allows you to change font styles and sizes, so you can make your headings stand out. Another bonus is the ability to type in your own items or reminders about how you want to use those snippets.

And that’s all there is to it. Now I have a customized note just for a particular scene. When I’m ready to write that scene, I open the note, and everything I need is there. I don’t need to slow down my writing because the research has all been done and is in one note.

Other Ways to Use Notes

The beauty of this process that it can be used for any aspect of your story, and you can use material from tools other than just thesaurus entries. For instance, you can also use Notes for…

  • Scene Planning: Link to the Establishing Mood Setting Tutorial for future reference, make setting notes, map the protagonist’s emotional progress throughout the scene with details from the Emotion Thesaurus, explore weather options, copy/paste definitions from the Story Structure Terminology page for easy reference, etc.
  • Overall Story Research: save possible plot complications from the idea generator, link to a saved Symbols and Motifs worksheet, brainstorm overall story goals by saving possible entries from the Character Motivation Thesaurus, etc.
  • Generalized Character Creation: make note of distinguishing physical features, brainstorm occupation choices, link to a completed Character’s Fears worksheet, link to a created timeline of important events in their life, etc. (Please note that while a note can work well for basic planning, the Character Builder is better for in-depth research.)

The process for using notes is super easy and has a lot of helpful applications. Just another way that One Stop for Writers can be used to make life easier for authors.

Rodney is a reformed pantster and an author of paranormal romance involving vibrant vampires. The latest book in his Erin Kingsly series, Beverly Hills Torture, is now available for presale. You can find him online at Facebook and Twitter.

If you’d like to give One Stop for Writers a test drive, check out their free trial.

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This entry was posted in Characters, One Stop For Writers, Story Structure, Tools and Resources, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Resources. Bookmark the permalink.
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8 months ago

I love seeing how your brain works, Rodney! When we created the Notes feature, we weren’t thinking it could be used with such versatility, but it really can be so helpful for organizing the details. Thanks again!

RW Buxton
8 months ago

I’ll be honest when I created my first note, I didn’t really see the usefulness. Then one day I was looking through one of the thesauruses and then it clicked. Now it’s one of my favorite features.


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8 months ago

What I love about your posts Rodney is that after I share them online, I always get people commenting, “I didn’t know I could do that!” so thank you very much for helping everyone get even more out of the site. The more productive we all are, the faster we can get our books into the hands of readers! 🙂

RW Buxton
8 months ago

Thank you. Everytime I use One Stop for Writers I find something new to help me. Notes were just the latest. You are so right about it making us more productive. I just finished the first draft of my fourth novel. I took advantage of many of the features in OS, and while I spent about three or four weeks in OS. I actually finished the first draft in 18 days. Now for rewrites.

But the key thing was having all my information laid out in a way that made sense before I started. I strayed from my scene map in the middle but stuck to the story map and am super please with the result.

RW Buxton
8 months ago

Hi, and thanks for hosting me again. I’ve become passionate about One Stop for Writers and hope this will let others see the power and capabilities it has.