keeping track of ideas

ratsy

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#1
I am just looking for some tips on how to keep notes for your WIPs. As I get further into my WIP I keep thinking of deeper plot lines and connections. The story is growing constantly in my head and I don't always have somewhere to write the ideas down.

How do you do it? Do you have a physical note pad that you carry around? Do you type it on your phone in a note pad? email ideas to yourself?

I now lie in bed at night and think of good ideas and just hope I remember them. Do you guys have any tips for me?
 
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#2
I find I work best visually so I doodle and keep scrapbooks of pictures also playlists with music that describes the plot. (I am no artist or musician and it is just for me).

Promise not to laugh but I keep the ones for my cosy mystery series on a defunct blog:
http://charlottepimpernel.weebly.com/scrapbook.html (please do not laugh at actor choices lol)

For my fantasy I have a notebook with similar pictures and things I have drawn myself.
 

Boneman

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#3
I do have a pad by the bed, I've lost a few ideas by not jotting down when the muse is singing... They all go on the computer, (into emails to myself) onto memory sticks (three running as we speak) and on hard copies that pile up in a drawer.
 

ratsy

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#4
I find I work best visually so I doodle and keep scrapbooks of pictures also playlists with music that describes the plot. (I am no artist or musician and it is just for me).

Promise not to laugh but I keep the ones for my cosy mystery series on a defunct blog:
http://charlottepimpernel.weebly.com/scrapbook.html (please do not laugh at actor choices lol)

For my fantasy I have a notebook with similar pictures and things I have drawn myself.
That is a cool way of doing it, thank you for sharing. I am sure that there are a lot of different ways people keep tabs on their stories
 

Jo Zebedee

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#5
I make notes in the draft, usually consisting of:

I KNOW IT'S AN ANAETHMA BUT SOME DESCRIPTION, ANY DESCRIPTION

THIS IS LOVELY, WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

ADD MOTIVATION.

STOP THEM THINKING SO MUCH.

And then the next time through I fix them. I also have an A4 notebook for working out plot kinks.
 

The Spurring Platty

I am the wild blue yonder
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#6
At work, I keep a running text file of ideas and thoughts.
I'll keep a pad and pen around the house and one in the car...for jotting things down.

My problem is when I'm in bed at night. So as not to disturb the Spousal Platty by turning on a light and writing something down, I picture a room in my mind. And I'll put things into the 'room' that I think will remind me of my thoughts. More often than not I'll remember them the next morning, because I find it easier to picture what the room looked like than to remember an abstract thought when I was nearly asleep.
 

ratsy

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#7
Yeah the last thing my wife wants to hear at 2 am is "Eureka! I have it!" as I dart off to turn a light on and write the crazy dreams down. But I do seem to get some good ideas as I lay there waiting for sleep.
 

thaddeus6th

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#9
I do have a journal but tend to use that to help me get past writer's block (recently worked well for Ch2 of the Sir Edric comedy).

For more serious stuff I have a few documents that deal with individual books and/or specific countries/peoples in the Bane of Souls world. (I haven't really started on it yet but the trilogy info document is already 11 pages, although some of that's imported from Bane of Souls).
 

Bowler1

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#10
Yeah the last thing my wife wants to hear at 2 am is "Eureka! I have it!" as I dart off to turn a light on and write the crazy dreams down. But I do seem to get some good ideas as I lay there waiting for sleep.
I get the good ideas as I start to relax and day dream as well, but I've never jumped out of bed looking for a note pad. I lose ideas, but in general I don't worry too much about it. Most of my good ideas stay with me, so if an idea is really good I remember it. So don't fret over the loss of ideas, and be willing to let you mind wonder and be creative. I think it's more important to keep relaxed and keep the ideas coming instead of worrying over the odd idea that gets forgotten about.
 

TheTomG

Thomas M. Grimes
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#11
I use Evernote to capture on the go notes that happen when driving, out someplace etc (I tend to use the audio record function rather than the text entry - well definitely not text entry while driving!)
 

Biskit

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#12
Small notepad by the bed. Spare notepad in case I forgot to put the first one back. The most recent milk bill when all the pads have vanished. Back of my hand when the milk bills have gone...

In the middle of the night, I'll often just write a few words as a mnemonic to write up when fully conscious. The important thing is to do that while the few words still mean something.

System and order the is answer. I think. I forgot to write down the question.
 

Lenny

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#13
I used to scribble everything down on A6 scraps of paper (rather than binning sheets of A4, I divide it into quarters, punch a hole in the top left corner, and tie them together as a notepad), which was great until I realised I had piles and piles of jottings that were each many inches thick - it was impossible to find something, even when the notes were gathered in categorised piles.

So a couple of months back I opened up Microsoft OneNote and started copying things over - I have notebooks for different categories (e.g. general ideas, specific book ideas, Chrons word challenges), each of which is split into sections (in general ideas I drill down into "fantasy", "SF", "general", "quotes", and "titles"), which are then made up of pages (the individual notes). It's also possible to add sub-pages to pages, to even further categorise a note.

OneNote is great! If I'm searching for something (aside from using the search function), or looking to add a note to a specific section, I can quickly drop down through the layers, data tree styley.

The only problem I find is when I'm not at my computer. At night, I'll usually scribble small things down quickly, or e-mail longer thoughts to myself (which are much easier to put into OneNote - copy and paste).

Sadly, unless it comes with your copy of Microsoft Office, it's not free.
 

Glitch

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#14
I don't rush to write things down. If the idea is good enough it will come back when the time is right :)

For organising stories and ideas I use a private wiki online.
 

Montero

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#15
Notebook and old envelopes for jotting.

Complicated folder system for keeping track of notes. (I mentioned it the other month in some detail, wonder where that went.)

Anyway under the main book folder I'll have folders relating to background research with titles like "planetary systems" and "pottery".

I have a folder called "Plot" - which will hold various files, text and spreadsheet.

Then once the work is actually in progress, I track on either a chapter or episode basis depending which suits me best (by episode I mean - characters charter space ship, characters fly between solar systems, characters land on planet). Then under that folder structure I create a sub-sub-folder structure with folders called things like "To do", "Being discussed", "Being written", "Final version". Inside the folder/sub-folder structure I will have various files, some of which might be exploring a few paragraphs - as in working out how the interstellar travel works, then how the character perceives it. (Could vary with character - anything from ship's engineer, to rough transition spilt my drink.)
And when there is a final version of a scene/episode/chapter it is added onto the main manuscript file. Gives me a basic history tracking so I can look back and check I've not missed anything.
 

Abernovo

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#16
Notebooks on my desk, beside my bed, and one in my jacket pocket. I also record things and type notes on my mobile phone when out, as well.

On top of all that, I make notes in the document (Insert Note), possibly similar to Springs. Sometimes, it's for when I know it's not quite right, but I'm too tired to stay up (or just can't figure out the solution). Other times, it might be a reminder that this section might be useful for later, perhaps as the beginning of a pattern, or a clue in a mystery.
 

Brian G Turner

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#17
How do you do it? Do you have a physical note pad that you carry around? Do you type it on your phone in a note pad? email ideas to yourself?

I now lie in bed at night and think of good ideas and just hope I remember them. Do you guys have any tips for me?
I tried a notepad, and a dictaphone.

Strangely, the note software on my smartphone is proving a real winner - I have written what feels like thousands of words of notes since I got it six months ago.
 

ratsy

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#18
I always have my phone around me so I think I might opt for a Note App to keep ideas in. I also think I will get a Notebook just for this purpose too. I am brand new so I appreciate your ideas. It is great to have such a helpful forum to ask questions too and get advice.
 

Susan Boulton

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#19
When I am working on an idea or a full blown WIP I have a lever arch file which has printed out notes, character lists, information I need, pictures of items that either belong to my characters or they use them (my novel Hand of Glory had pictures of 1920's cars, local landmarks, WWI trenches etc...) Everything to do with the work in one place. Also research books with yellow post-it notes numbered to correspond with the places in the novel where I need that information placed, or where it refers to something the character is doing, going, using, etc...

So an idea begins with a thin lever arch with maybe two or three pages in. A novel in the progress is rather messy with ref books shoved in, post-it notes stuck to everything and lots of rude words written in the corner of pages where things have annoyed me or gone pearshaped and not worked. A finished novel is a one large (sometimes two) lever arch file with everything inside placed neatly in plastic wallets and the name of the novel written on the spine. These sit on a shelf in the study. Sometimes the information I have researched for one novel can be applied to another, so I take the lever arch down, copy the pages I need and place them in the new file. Though sometimes I spread them out and stick them on a pin board for a few days as I think about what I need.
 

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