There is nothing worse than beginning a story only to realise that you have forgotten where it is going.
Make use of easily learnable techniques to keep all your ideas in one place and go back to them to rediscover your initial plot path. It happens to the best of us. An idea for a book pops into our head and we immediately start scribbling down the main points. A few days later we revisit the scribblings only to realise we cant remember what the bigger picture was. At the time we saw it so clearly in our heads… but time mists over the details leaving us wondering… at what point did we lose the plot?
I bet you have mountains of notebooks with little snippets of story ideas written on them.
And i will bet you can’t even remember writing half of them – but there must have been something at the time that grabbed your imagination and you saw the potential for a plot idea or new scene – if only you had captured it better.
Keeping Writing Notes
One solution is to try put your snippets into some larger context.
For example, I saw an escaped horse running down the main street this morning. although this was a fairly serious incident, it amused me and I quickly scribbled down the event in my notebook (please tell me you carry one!). Knowing that I would probably forget about the event, I also took the time to expand upon the details… I added a note about the weather, the looks on people’s faces, the number of police cars and the chaotic way they were trying to round-up the horse. I wrote down vivid details of the horse owner – as he was in a right predicament… and the ever-changing expressions on his face which were fantastic. Finally I took a quick snap on my camera so I could bring colour to my words.
Now instead of a quick line of words, I have a detailed ‘report’ of the event and all the things that occurred. I have now gone from simple writer to journalistic capturer of events…. go me! Later I could wrap a whole story around this scene using characters created from this ‘real life’ scenario. I have all the players and a scene with a beginning and an end.
Mind Maps fo Writing Plots
Another favourite method of mine is mind maps!
I love them. Take a central idea or piece of text, then create associations with related people, places, events, ideas… After a few minutes you could have the beginnings of a great new story idea complete with the all the basic elements you need to get writing. Keep a hold of the mind map and add new ‘branches’ to it as they pop into your head. (I use the free software, FreeMind. It’s so easy to use – just search for it on Google).
Organise your notebooks and scribblings.
Cut them out and associate them or re-type them into a word document or mind map. You need to capture every little spark of inspiration you can – as you never know when you might need them. Your next character might be standing at a crossroads waiting for you to type in the next step of his journey – don’t leave him standing there.
Delve into your bag of scribbles and find something that fits the scene and advances the plot. I’ll add more to this later after I finish my review of popular software packages and apps that can be used to help you keep the plot.
Now where did i put my notebook?