Turning Ideas into Stories

One of my most valuable possessions is a notebook. Sometimes it’s high quality, a Moleskine or something similar, other times its no different than the large spiral-bound ones I had in school. It all depends on what I can get when I fill the old one.

The notebook is my first step when I have an idea, and I prefer the smaller ones that I can keep in my pocket. Makes it easy to get to. Easy to scrabble down the idea, and then take that first leap into a new story.

I’ve found that first burst of intuition is like a drop of water on desert sand – it’ll dry up fast if you don’t keep pouring more on.

Say your first burst of thought is something like “A man on the street suddenly grows wings”. OK, there’s anĀ idea, but that’s not a story. There’s no character there, no real plot. But write that idea down, and then keep going.

Who is that man? What do the people around him do? Is this even in our normal world, or is it normal that people sprout wings on the street in this setting?

Letting the pen run amok on some paper will help you flesh out that idea, add some characters and some conflict, so that when it comes time to turn that idea into a novel, or a novella, you’ve got a lot more to start with than “a man on the street suddenly grows wings”.

If you’d prefer to rapidly type out that idea, then go for it. I just find scribbling on a piece of notebook paper to be less intimidating, more freeing. There’s something less formal about the swirl of ink, especially with my craptacular handwriting, that lets the story grow.

Just make sure to transfer whatever you care to keep into something more permanent, like a backed-up Word document, Evernote, or something similar. I’ve donated a lot of notebooks to hotel rooms, airplanes, and random corners of my house over the years, and you don’t want to lose those little miracles of yours.

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