By Michelle Lynn Senters-
Do you like to collect things? Some people collect rocks, seashells, or various items from nature. Others collect coins, stamps, or figurines. Toys, junk, books, dolls, ball point pens, and antiques. Collections come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the typical (rocks) to the absurd (wads of chewed bubblegum, yuck).
A writer is a collector of ideas. Story ideas. Character ideas. Plot ideas.
Not only do writers need to collect ideas, they must also have a way of documenting and organizing ideas. Some writers gather their thoughts on notecards. Others keep files on the computer. I organize my idea collection on the computer and in a “Writer’s Notebook”. I also use my Pinterest account to gather ideas. (See it here.) Over the past seven years, I’ve collected 92 children’s book ideas and 7 non-fiction, adult book ideas. Over 20 of story ideas are in the rough draft stage and many are finished manuscripts. Having an organizational system in place assures me I won’t forget a fleeting moment of inspiration.
Today, you are going to create a system to organize your story ideas.
1. Choose a way to organize your information. Here are a few possibilities:
- 3 ring binder with loose leaf paper. You may use dividers, if desired.
- computer documents and file folders
- notecards and box
- spiral notebook or composition book
- filing box, file folders, and loose paper
- cork board or whiteboard
2. Choose your lists, according to your area of interest. Devote at least one page for each list and put the title of the list at the top of the page. Ideas for lists include:
- life stories (the people, places, and memories you never want to forget)
- family stories (stories passed down from your family)
- fiction story ideas
- non-fiction ideas
- genres: Ideas for fantasy, fairy tales, historical fiction, articles, biographies, poetry, mysteries, songs, plays, children’s stories, novels, blog posts, etc. (one page per genre)
- character ideas
- setting ideas
- KIDS ARE WRITERS prompts you want to remember
- journaling ideas
- additional lists you need
3. Fill in your lists. Now that your organizational system is in place, document the ideas you want to write about in the future. You may choose to simply write a title. You may want to write a sentence or short summary about your idea. Here are a couple examples:
- the time I fell in the frozen lake
- making mud pies in Wisconsin
- the frog-eating snake
- making spaghetti with Grandma- the passing of tradition- the special spoon
CHILDREN’S STORY IDEAS
- a robot who wants to become real
- a little girl who would rather make mud pies than go to tea parties
- “Stay in Bed, Sleepyhead”- a little boy can’t sleep and finds many reasons to get out of bed, much to the dismay of his parents. (Completed manuscript.)
4. In time, you may add the following resource sections to your Writer’s Notebook:
- helpful hints for writers
- rough drafts
- story maps
- revision checklist
- punctuation chart
- list of commonly misspelled words
- list of favorite words
- list of online, writing resources (dictionary, thesaurus, grammar, etc.)
- or any helpful information
5. Helpful Hints
- You do not need to fill out every page today. You will add to this notebook in the coming days, weeks, and years. I’ve had my notebook for 7 years.
- Only choose lists that are important to you.
- Younger children may start with a simple list entitled, “Story Ideas”. Serious writers will need more space and categorization.
Michelle Lynn Senters is the Founder and Director of KIDS ARE WRITERS. She spends her days working as a Reading Interventionist and spends her evenings writing books for children and adults. You can learn more about Michelle HERE and at www.michellelynnsenters.com.