Displaying Story Ideas

So, I’m trying something new for organizing my writing ideas.

I don’t really have a centralized area where I write down my ideas for plots/characters/etc. Usually, they just end up in any notebook I have handy or any scrap of paper that just happens to be nearby. Sometimes, I’m careful to transfer these ideas to a central location, but most of the time they just float off somewhere, never to be seen again.

To remedy this, I’ve decided to collect some of these ideas in one place and, at the same time, give myself more of a visual reminder that, yes, I do get good ideas occasionally.

I’ve found some of the favorite ideas, written up a summary for each of them on sticky notes, and started covering my bedroom walls with them. There are three categories, each with their own separate section of wall: Place, People, and Plot.

Yes, a I am a fan of alliteration, why do you ask?

Under “Place”, I put setting ideas. Background stuff. Anything from maps of magical kingdoms to a fictionalization of a museum I once went to. One of these days, I’m going to add creatures I’ve invented, and fun houses that I wished I lived in.  This area will probably fill up pretty quickly when I start putting up my theories of magic. I spend more time than I like to admit coming up with rules for systems of magic (sociology, biology, conservation of energy, etc).

“People” is filled with characters that haven’t attached themselves to a plot. They are people with a distinctive trait, disability, or superpower that will require a certain style of story to accommodate. However, there are a couple of examples of people that are just interesting personalities that have asserted themselves when I’ve started writing. There is one guy, for example, that likes playing baseball. I don’t know his name, yet, or what story he is a part of, but I know what he sounds like and I know how he treats his younger sister.

“Plot” is filled up with log lines, basic “who” and “what” kind of stuff. I’m very careful to space the sticky notes out a bit, though, since I’ve added some smaller sticky notes below some of the main ones that start to detail the conflicts, characters, setting, or the origin of the idea. Ideally, each log line would branch out into a full tree of sticky notes that bring the story into greater detail with each layer added. In practice, I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I can dream.

After putting an afternoon to get this set up, it surprised me how many ideas (decent ones) I actually had. For the exercise, I had gone back through some of my old journals, and found some short fiction that I had forgot I even had. When I finished posting everything up, it was encouraging to be able to see a history of my creativity.

I have to remind myself: Yes, I am a writer. I do, actually, have ideas. I don’t have any excuse for why I shouldn’t be writing.

Mind you, this hasn’t encouraged me to write more, like I hoped it would. But, still, it’s gotten me thinking.


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