Unless it's changed, MS word cannot handle files large enough to cover a novel. Or even a novella for that matter. Consider that for even a novella, you're talking about probably at least 50k words covering about 100 pages and that for a novel you're probably talking about double that, or more.
It's just about inevitable that you're going to have to split it somehow, and chapters is probably the best way of splitting it.
Overall the answer depends a bit on what sort of writer you are, if you have an organized plot before you start, then you'll want to break the chapters according to the outline and you may even want to write them out of order. If you're more of a stream of consciousness writer, then you'd probably just break whenever it word processor calls uncle and leave the chapter breaks till editing later on.
The big thing that people don't usually talk much about is revision control. The Wiki suggestion below intrigues me a bit, I'll have to look into that.
I haven't spent much time with it, but yWriter is both free and gives a lot of help with things like keeping track of characters and any important items in the story. [link]
I'd like to do NANOWRIMO this year, but I'll likely not be able to with other commitments.
Given that my win98 computer with 128MB ram running can read hundred thousand+ word stories, I find that hard to believe. And I've worked with 64Mb files in word as well, which is far more than 50k (text) words.
You might be thinking of notepad. Older versions of notepad had a 64kb limit, or around 14k words.
I type the whole thing in one file, but to post them to devArt, I separate the chapters into their own separate files. I also have different files for outlines and crap. They differentiate for each novel. So, this is what a few of my novel folders currently look like: [link] (click on the image to zoom in)
I type the whole thing in one file: can't be bothered to go hunting through "My Documents" to find where I said what. I occasionally write outlines in Word, but more often jot things down in a notepad. I'm not a big note-maker.
I type it all into one file and edit it later. For ideas, I write them down in a notebook. At first, I wrote the rough drafts in a notebook, but now I just type it cos it's easier. My method is pretty simple lol
I tend to use an online program called Pangurpad, You write your story all in one document, with chapter headings and page breaks. What I love best is its note system, it has categories (timeline, notes, characters, places and items) which you can easily add to and keep open around the document. You can also have the editing section open, with keeps track of words, you can set goals in it, and supplies buttons for formatting. The editing section also has links for the last word you wrote, this includes google, dictionary, wikipedia and any notes with those words in the title. And If you want to have nothing to distract you you can hide all the buttons and just type on the page.
I find it to be a very useful tool, too few people know about it.
Do you type each chapter in to its own file? Or do you type the whole thing in one file? Both at different occasions. But it's never one document per project. Each one needs its own folder and subfolders.
Do you use any programs to keep notes, such as Excel, or do you use pen and paper notebooks? I keep notes on my phone, in notepad files and in a notebook. The digital ones are easy but the ones in the book are scattered. I have short stories in there that are broken up by notes about a completely unrelated project. True story. And some things I just remember
Tell me about your methods of organization, I'm curious. It works for me but I'm sure it's incomprehensible to others. I make lots of notes, I keep each individual draft in its own file, I number things and use descriptors like "Final", "Review" and "OH GOD NO MORE I DON'T WANT TO READ THIS MANUSCRIPT AGAIN". I title pages in the notebook with what is on the page and draw boxes around things and underline things. There is a kind of method to it but it's a very fluid system. The biggest classifications are "Draft" and "Notes"
Notes and such I write in a notebook. The story itself, on one word document. If my edits call for me into making a separate documents for the edits, I'll do it but it so concerning the type of editing I'm planning. All scenes that I take out are kept in a separate file just in case I need something in them later on but most likely, I won't and they'll end up being deleted.
I use a wonderful program called Scrivener which allows me to create "separate" documents for each chapter or scene or however I like to organize it. But it's technically all one file so it's easy to print things out to send manuscripts out and such. Scrivener is also awesome because it lets you create a notecard for each chapter so you have a little summary for each one, and then when you're in notecard view it lets you see all those little summaries which helps with the flow of the novel. You can also drag files around to re-order them if you ever want to move a chapter. It's a great program. I highly recommend checking it out.
The program gives you what basically amounts to a file tree on the left side of the screen, here's an example of what my layout looks like:
Research and Development
Interview with scientist
100 theme challenge
Random Scene 1
Random Scene 2
It's nice, because it lets me keep everything easily organized and accessible in one file, but each part is in its own section and not mixed in with everything else. Then to print everything as one document I just click the "Novel" section, hit compile and tell it to put a page break between each chapter and it prints me a lovely manuscript with no hassle. I can also set the manuscript to print with totally different formatting, so if I wanted to type in say Helvatica, but needed to submit the manuscript in Times New Roman I could tell it to print in Times New Roman while leaving my manuscript in its original font.
The program has a lot of other cool features to. It's completely designed around novel and script writing, which is great.
I also use an awesome app called "A Novel Idea" which is a great novel planning app. It lets you create characters (with a great character profile to fill out for them), locations and scenes and attach them to one another so you can know what characters will be in what scene and where. You can also add tension levels which is great for plotting out your novel and making sure it moves at a good pace.
So yeah, that's how I write my novels. Sorry it was so long. XD
First I make a plot outline in a journal I have. I use the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Denouement type of outline. I then write what happens in each chapter to see how long it'll be.
I begin typing up chapter one on my laptop. All the chapters are on the same document. If I want to write a certain scene and I'm not there yet, I have another journal to write little scenes. Then when I get to that point I can type it in and change things as I see fit.
I use Scrivener and is soooo helpful for organizing chapters and sections.
But before that (and after, for line edits and such, since I have yet to meet an editor or agent who wants to use Scrivener with me) I just use one word doc. (Though with each rewrite, I save a new word doc, so that I have past drafts.)
For stories, I write with Word (2007, and the ribbon is actually better than the old method once you get use to it) and I separate each chapter into different files so as to enforce the idea of a break. I keep everything in a folder of course.
As for notes, it is all held in various programs. First I had an actual .txt file I would use with Notepad. Then I switched to the Notes app in all iOS systems. After my iPod died, I switched back to Notepad. Then I have Evernote, which is a lot like the Notes app but with a lot more functions and cloud syncing. Then I'm apparently cryptic enough in my notes that I don't worry about someone reading them.
I've tried Scrivener, but it felt like too much work for me and too much of a hasle to deal with. As for NaNoWriMo, I use Google Docs and I have a personal writing app meant exclusively for this event.
The notes I take are just single sentences to describe what happens in each chapter, being rather vague to the point that you have to know the story and what is going on to know what it is referring to. The few times I do Snowflake Methods though are with MS Paint (very easy to use over GIMP and any images are just copy-pasted to begin with.)
I use a system called LaTeX, an extension of the TeX typesetting system that is primarily used in science and mathematics. It's similar to HTML in that changing the font, size, face, etc. are done by commands. The document is then compiled into a PDF, DVI, or whatever finished document you wish. It's what I learned to use in grad school. It has some very nice features for fiction writing, though.
For one, I can comment out lines. So while they are still in the source file, the finished product doesn't include them. This is a nice feature for editing and note-taking. Chapters and scenes can be divided up into separate files, and listed in the master document. This makes reorganization a breeze. The system is used in publishing (generally for mathematics), so everything to create professional quality typesetting is there. I have an example in my gallery, but an expert could produce something much better.
It's great for self-publishing, since it's free, and I can compile a print book, ebook, etc. with a single push of a button. It has a steep learning curve, though.
I do it all in one document. I just get to work, write it out, and I keep the outline in my head (for most people, I imagine this approach would be difficult or impossible, but I've got an encylcopedic brain when it comes to plot details and such. I'm pretty good at keeping even convoluted stories rather clear in my mind)
It's certainly handy, and I don't usually keep a 100% outline either. Usually I just let the characters organically interact, and just keep in mind that a specific set of events need to happen. Outside of that, everything is fair game. Makes the writing far more interesting.
I agree, I tend to know my antagonist in advance, and know the events which lead to my characters meeting and finding out about the antagonist(or at least starting the chain of events). I love discovering as I write, I actually have trouble writing without a plan.
Scrivener. Prior to that, drafts, notes, fragments in Text and Word format in labeled folders. Separating chapters into separate files is far too unwieldy, don't recommend.
The Snowflake Method actually has you organize scenes in Excel, but I've also seen people using Scrivener for that too. Pretty easy to organize according to same concept using the notecards or outliner. You can even have scenes set up separately and then combine them together in a chapter that should be seamless when compiled. In case you can't tell, I'm a big fan. Best writing software I have used.
It basically allows you to organize everything so it's in one place, labeled, and easily accessible. You don't have to copy-paste or open files as you need, just import them once and put them where you need them in the binder. Scrivener's also flexible enough that you can work out your own system of organization, rather than having one imposed on you.
I have used a lot of different methods for organizing, but what I cling to most is a private online wiki. it is accessible wherever I have an internet connection, so if I write a scene at work at lunchtime, I can post it there to edit at home. Also, I have a writing partner, so he has access to all my work, and vice-versa.
I typically do a different file for the first several scenes, as it's more of a choppy process of getting stuff down. once the core scenes are done, I combine them into one file and edit that. That allows me to see the gaps and fill it in.
As for programs, I mostly use Notepad for my "first draft" work. No codes, can copy-pasta it into most programs and Stash. Easy and quick to load. Once I get it to a heavy-editing mode, I move to my word-processing software. I use WordPerfect, which is not widely used, but I'm in the legal field where it's one of the program of choice. I've been using it over 20 years, so I'm comfortable with it.
The only other thing I do organization wise is an combo outline/notes page. Not a formal outline, just a listing of the scene and any notes that are pertinent. The rest I take care of in the actual writing stage.
True. You need plug-ins to customize it, but you can set it up to do basically the same things.
Scrivener was modeled off another piece of software (and damn I can't remember the name of it). I remember downloading that years ago. I agree, it was nice to have the timeline tool and other things available, but for me it was a bit too much. I'm more of a purist (hence my love of Notepad). I just want to write. I don't mind having my notes all on one page, or having to copy/paste scenes together rather than having them auto-merge. But, I come from the generation where websites were all stand-alone HTML pages with no CSS. So, I like to do some things manually.
Honestly, we literally tried 2 dozen ways of doing it. We needed something online as we needed to be able to access it anywhere. We tried using private blogs, services like Google docs, and pretty much anything and everything we could find--even a few pay programs. The wiki ended up being the best because it allowed us to have everything in one place. We could have categories and sub-categories. We have the actual stories we are working on and can carved up into chapters or scenes nested under the main title. We also have pages for character lists, notes, etc. The great thing about a wiki is you can easily cross-reference. It's like building a site on the fly. So, on the character sheet, you can have Joe Blow, and have it link to his profile page with info. Everything is in one place, which just makes it so much easier. I do most of my writing offline, but I can cut-and-paste it in easily enough, or I can create a page on the fly and type there.
We're lucky as we have dedicated webspace, so we could set up a wiki program that worked for us. Though, I have told other people how we do it and have heard they set up wikis on Wikia and other hosted wiki sites and it worked well.
The one big drawback of wikis is the syntax. It's not simple HTML. You have to learn the codes in order to make it work. But it's not overly hard, and some wikis have WYSIWYG plug-ins that allow you to sidestep that and use regular HTML.
I think the fact that it allows easy creation of endless pages and it's accessible anywhere gives it merit. I love the ability to have a thought, jot it down on the wiki, and have an instant linkable page. In a lot of ways, it's like Sta.sh, but with more of a formal structure.
Wikis are an odd animal, though. There is a learning curve and I think someone who wants something perfect right out of the gate may struggle.
On another note, I love that most wikis have so many plug-ins available. Mine has a word count, note-taker, comments on pages, calendar, and all kinds of other things that make it simply more than a wiki.
Yeah, I used to do some wiki editing at my old job so I don't think I'd have a bad time of it, but I really do like just being able to open up Word and start typing. (I could never stop using it. I use LibreOffice on my netbook and I'm willing to deal with the formatting flubs.)
Yep, hence my love of Notepad. I open it and begin typing, and I can pretty much copy-pasta it anywhere I want. At the end of the day, the wiki is nice, but all I need is a blank page and I can make everything else work.
There is something called "Word Wrap" and it will make it fit to your screen. And it takes line breaks. I just like that on pretty much any computer I go onto, I can find it to work with. Not every computer has Word or other programs.