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Monday, February 11, 2019

Bringing Your Ideas To Life



I have been trying to find a subject that I wanted to write about this last week. You probably figured out by the belated post that I didn’t find one. Luckily I found a subject for this weeks post.

Today I decided to talk a bit about my process when I write my stories. If you follow any writer’s social media, they all seem to post about how they got from what is some vague idea to a completed story. I know that there are many authors who share how they proceed from point A to point Z.  I will most likely do the same. Let's begin with what else but the beginning.

I don’t know about other creative people, but my stories come to me like I am watching a movie. I just need to run the movie a few times to capture all of the action. This is what I call step one. I work to get as much of my idea down on paper or in a program on my computer such as Microsoft Word or Scrivener.  I myself prefer the pen and paper method for this early stage.

I say get it down in writing because if you are like me. You have about a thousand or more ideas on any given day and if I don’t write them down, they will get lost in the clutter of my creativity.

a open manila file folder with pages of handwritten notes.
Once I have dedicated the idea to paper, then comes step two- the thought dump. In this step, I start writing all of the things happening in the scene playing through my mind. Even the most innocuous thought gets put down because you never know when that might just turn into a key element to the story.

This is also the stage where I begin to develop my characters. I also decide what theme I want to run throughout my story. As I develop my characters, I begin to see how my theme impacts their story arc.

We have now reached the third step. This is where you find the difference between pantsers and plotters. Some writers prefer to bypass the outline phase, which is okay but for me, I prefer to have an outline. Why? You may ask. I like to have an outline to look at as I write so that I don’t go off on a tangent and lose track of the story. Yes, this happens to me. It is like dropping a pebble in the water. As I write my brain conjures up different scenarios that could happen. Since I haven’t planned for this idea usually it loses ground and the story loses its cohesion.

It is during the outline process that I enter into stage four. In stage four I begin to flesh out my rudimentary outline by going into more depth in the key scenes. I also cut away anything that I feel is just filler. During the revision phase this happens again but by doing a cut at the beginning,  I find I have a lot less to trim once I have finished writing the first draft.

I usually will do this part when I take what I have handwritten and have begun building my Scrivener file. If you don’t have Scrivener, don’t worry. I have also done this in One Note and MS Word. I just prefer using the Scrivener program.

I  do a storyboard also. What is that you ask? My storyboard is a cork board filled with index cards. On these cards is my outline broken down by chapter and scene.  This is so instead of opening my different files while writing, I can just glance up at the board in front of me. This also leaves the number of open windows to a more manageable number. This is one of my pet peeves, having window after window open. I prefer to just have my research file, dictionary, and thesaurus open while I write. Fewer distractions. Now I have finally reached the final step to writing my first draft.

I also like to create a Pinterest board for my stories. What goes into this can be many different things. It could be pictures of what my characters look like, what they might wear, where they might live, you name it and you will probably find it on my storyboards. If it isn’t in one spot, it will be on the other. I also like that I can send my readers to Pinterest to get a feel for what is going into the story creation process.

Photo of a Pinterest board devoted to new story.
This fifth step is the most important one of all. I sit down and begin writing my story, or for you, it might be a script or whatever you have spent the last few days doing the building blocks for. I figure if I don’t write the story, that means I have just spent my time on nothing. Remember just to get it written down if it turns out to be something less than you wanted, at least you have something that you have accomplished.

Every writer I know has a few stories or projects they finish, only to feel it isn’t the right time for it or they feel it isn’t good enough. You just will never know until you do the work and bring what is flashing through your brain dying to come forth into the light.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. A great book to get you started is Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. You can find it on Amazon.com. I leave you with the hope that you live life fully and laugh often.


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