How does everyone like to record their story ideas?

DAgent

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So one thing I decided a while ago was to record all my ideas onto a single word doc. This has let me keep everything somewhat organised in one very long, ever growing document (currently around 170+ pages) where I've separated everything in to genres first before showing off the working title, the overview, the general outline I want the story to take, characters bio, world building, equipment and so on. Even some very rough drafts or passages I think would work later on in the story. After this when I'm as happy with it as a I can be, I just copy a particular story details I want to work on into a separate doc and take it from there.

This has had some drawbacks, as it's a very loooooong doc to scroll through, and because I do like to use a pen and paper to write my ideas as well and I've kept those in a file box on my desk at home. One story I've had ideas for over the years has about five different "drafts" of outlines and character bios, which I've typed up onto the main word doc just by typing one version after another after another, with the aim of just merging them all into one at a later date. Which has very much become a back burner project now.

I figure everyone else will probably have their own way of doing it, and I am curious what everyone else's methods might be.
 

sknox

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Scrivener. I have a project for each story, including short stories. I have a project for the world building (all my stories take place in Altearth, so there's a lot of worldbuilding).

And I have a project for story ideas.

The difference I see, besides the tools we use, is that my Ideas file is only that: ideas. If it gets to the place where I can outline, sketch a plot, start some characters, that becomes a separate project. This keeps the Ideas fairly streamlined, and encourages me to toss in any old idea without any obligation of taking it further.
 

JS Wiig

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Just got Scrivener and really beginning to see the benefits for my style of creative creation!
 

Wayne Mack

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I keep a simple text document. Currently it has 16 items and 679 words; one of the items has generated a novel and a follow on. I'm not a big believer in keeping a lot of ideas, if I am not going to actually turn them into stories.
 

THX1138

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I use a notebook and pencil as well as character sheets for my novels. This is after toying around in my head and doing research first (months to years) In the notebook, I do a simple list and description of the characters first then a list of notes and the key points in the story (this ends up being pages and pages) in order as a rough map for the story and do any changes in concepts and order of the notes/key points to make it flow more. During this time, I also complete the character sheets. It may seem like a lot of steps but it helps me come up with twists and sub-plots and the likes as well as improving the story flow. ( buy this time there are a lot of numberings, arrows and rewritings and scribbles of the notes/key points) This whole writing process will take a couple of months to do.
My notes/key points are something like this:

Tom goes to computer store to get parts for system he is building. Meets old co-worker from Tec-Tronics. Exchange contact info.

Tom is back home working on system. 2 days pass co-worker calls.

The two meet at coffee shop. Discuses incorporating new experimental 3D memory into Tom's system.


So, with this and the character sheets, I will start writing. I will already have what system Tom is building and why in the Tom character sheet as well as the needed info about the co-worker and the 3D memory in the co-workers character sheet. As you can see from the given example, this can be 2 chapters easy by letting the characters and notes/key points write the story as well as setting up for plot twists and such while leading to the next line of notes and key points. In the end, my outline map of the novel will have changed even as I write it. Plus I can do this anywhere anytime as no computer is needed to keep notes on paper. And it's a lot easier to reference and make changes to. But my penmanship is poor so there is that!
 
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Venusian Broon

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I keep all my story ideas in my head, figuring if they are any good I won't forget them. Unfortunately, I have no way of proving if this works.
I can only speak for myself, but trying to keep story ideas in my head is by far the worst way to do it! As soon as a 'bright' idea comes along, I really need to jot it down somewhere. On the phone, on a bit of paper, on the PC. Then at some point transcribe it to an 'ideas' document.

Oh, and if you have an ideas document, use it. Regularly go through it and read all the stuff you've come up with. Refresh your mind. It might spark further thoughts and development.

I know that trying to keep it in the head will make most ideas become forgotten. Even great ones.
 

DAgent

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I can only speak for myself, but trying to keep story ideas in my head is by far the worst way to do it! As soon as a 'bright' idea comes along, I really need to jot it down somewhere. On the phone, on a bit of paper, on the PC. Then at some point transcribe it to an 'ideas' document.

Oh, and if you have an ideas document, use it. Regularly go through it and read all the stuff you've come up with. Refresh your mind. It might spark further thoughts and development.

I know that trying to keep it in the head will make most ideas become forgotten. Even great ones.
Yeah, I have the same issue with ideas that I think are great but if I don't make a note of them soon I know I'll lose them. Now sometimes, they do come back, even if I have recorded them somewhere, my mind does have a tendency to let things resurface like this at random, not always at a convenient time though.
 

Zach777

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I just use various Word files. I tried to use Scrivener, but I couldn't quite get the hang of it. Word does work fine for me, though I am thinking of using Wiki Dpad.
 

Guttersnipe

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College-ruled notebook and black pen. I usually make asterisks with a brief phrase following if it's a story idea, but I'll also jot down details and tropes if I want to use them. It can get a bit disorganized.
 

sknox

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Here's the thing about keeping ideas in your head and trusting that the good ones get remembered: ideas are neither good nor bad. They're just ideas. The first step taken doesn't really tell you anything about the road; it's just the first step. So, for me, all ideas get recorded. They sit there waiting for me to notice them. One day an idea might catch at me, yet on another day it leaves me cold.
 

Steve Harrison

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I can only speak for myself, but trying to keep story ideas in my head is by far the worst way to do it! As soon as a 'bright' idea comes along, I really need to jot it down somewhere. On the phone, on a bit of paper, on the PC. Then at some point transcribe it to an 'ideas' document.

Oh, and if you have an ideas document, use it. Regularly go through it and read all the stuff you've come up with. Refresh your mind. It might spark further thoughts and development.

I know that trying to keep it in the head will make most ideas become forgotten. Even great ones.
This is probably true, but I have half a dozen of the ones that stuck which are in an advanced state of development my my head, some of them formulated over many years. It takes me one to two years to write a novel, so they are more than enough to keep me going for quite some time.

I run these ideas like movies in my mind, building them periodically as I revisit them. I've had one, an epic religious thriller, running along for over 30 years which I suspect will eventually be my major novel. If written!
 

mistri

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I've got scrivener and keep meaning to create a story ideas project but have simply never got around to it.

Instead I have a google doc called 'vague ideas' and stuff stays there until it gets bulky enough to warrant its own document.
 

Astro Pen

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Often the idea is not just a notional plot but also a texture, a style.
I just start the story. A few lines in the style I want.
When I come back and look at it I have a feel for how I wanted to write it stylistically. That is as much a story 'seed' as the plot idea itself.
 

Guanazee

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I keep an Excel spreadsheet with date of idea, title, genre/age/type (ie short story, blog, novel), and notes. Some entries are nothing more than a title, some are a handful of words, some are a few paragraphs of jotted notes. Once I'm ready to actually draft anything, I create a new folder with at least a Word document in the appropriate formatting which is saved in my main writing folder. If I decide not to pursue it any more, at least at that time, I move the folder to my "Retired" folder because I only want to see manuscripts I'm actively working on.
 

Please Be Nice

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So one thing I decided a while ago was to record all my ideas onto a single word doc. This has let me keep everything somewhat organised in one very long, ever growing document (currently around 170+ pages) where I've separated everything in to genres first before showing off the working title, the overview, the general outline I want the story to take, characters bio, world building, equipment and so on. Even some very rough drafts or passages I think would work later on in the story. After this when I'm as happy with it as a I can be, I just copy a particular story details I want to work on into a separate doc and take it from there.

This has had some drawbacks, as it's a very loooooong doc to scroll through, and because I do like to use a pen and paper to write my ideas as well and I've kept those in a file box on my desk at home. One story I've had ideas for over the years has about five different "drafts" of outlines and character bios, which I've typed up onto the main word doc just by typing one version after another after another, with the aim of just merging them all into one at a later date. Which has very much become a back burner project now.

I figure everyone else will probably have their own way of doing it, and I am curious what everyone else's methods might be.
Please have back up files. Also customize the file so its not a basic word file. Go into settings use the organization tools for references to make hyperlinks, table of contents, appendices and other things.
 

Stephen Palmer

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Notebooks... pen or pencil?
 

LostCosmonaut

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I admit that I'm a bit obsessive, when it comes to organizing my creative output. Most of my story concepts end up stored in Google Docs or longhand notebooks for later use. In general, I do record everything I come up with, because A) my memory's not that great, and B) my projects have very long life-cycles, so a fleeting idea now could become something tremendous five years in the future. I still look at documents I made in 2016 and think, "Hey, that's pretty cool---what if I continued it?"
 

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