It seems like I’ve been coming up with story ideas since I was a little kid, and I feel that it is true. Digging into my childhood memory box will reveal a small treasure trove of hand-drawn picture books I created for my siblings, as well as creature sketches, and lists of the numerous books I was reading. The box of story ideas began back then.
I remember working on a story about a mouse family. My brother drew pictures to go along with the story because he loved it so much. The concept was a family of mice in an abandoned house who get caught between warring factions of living toy soldiers. I still remember that story… Yet the material has been completely lost. The idea is there. Even some of the details stick in my memory, yet much of it will be a struggle for me to regain.
I wish I had had an idea file in a computer back then.
Nowadays those ideas are most often thrown into computer files. I like the security this affords. I can store the idea, then refer back to it at my leisure. The files have grown over the past twelve years. The idea behind them is that they are ideas that I do not have time to write, at this time, yet I intend to get to someday. There are new fantasy novels, science-fiction, mysteries, historical fiction, even a romance or two.
But I would be remiss if I did not mention my notebooks. Writing on paper has always given me my greatest story ideas. Much of the core material behind The Sword of the Dragon books was hand written. There’s nothing akin to sitting outside enjoying nature, the fresh air, with pad and pen in hand. No rush, simply enjoying the process. My preference has bounced between ruled paper and sketchbooks. Each offers a different feel that fuels creativity. Ruled paper allows me to feel more structured, especially for outlining ideas. Whereas sketchbooks feel like a clean slate I can fill with my tiny handwriting.
The writer’s imagination is always gathering ideas. It would be career suicide to throw those ideas out. Even if the raw idea is not ready for publication, its premise or an element of it may stick to create something memorable. A few times I have found I end up incorporating them into existing storylines. The Sword of the Dragon series has benefitted greatly from the use of ideas from these files.
Q: Do you have a system to file your story ideas?
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