I was recently asked how do I manage to keep all my ideas organized. There are times I don’t feel they’re very organized—they can be a bit jumbled. But it’s helped me to write almost everything down so it can be organized later.
For example, if I have a story idea, I write it down in my notebook. If I’m not home or I don’t have it near me, I add to the idea lists in my phone. The lists are separate between ideas for original screenplays, spec screenplays, comic manuscripts and novel manuscripts. The ideas aren’t concrete—once written out, something I thought would work best for a TV script may be better written as a novel.
Once I pick one to start with, I begin by working on the point of the story. This can be the most challenging. What is the story about? Is it about the character? Is there a lesson to learn? Is it to cheer for the bad guy? Anything can be a good idea for a story, but it’s all got to have a point. Otherwise, why would your audience care?
Once that’s figured out, I’ll outline everything. This is something new that I’ve found works for me. In the past, I’d never outlined anything—I just started writing and would shift things as needed during editing.
But it would take me longer to work on a project that way, and it’s easier to miss key points this way thus leading to holes in your story. Since it helped me out during last year’s NaNoWriMo, I decided to stick with it. I’ve even gotten into the idea of writing key points on sticky notes and pasting them onto a mirror in my room. This way, I can physically move the idea around and it helps when I have to write it out later.
I’ve used this tactic on 2 projects so far; it’s really helped me stay on track and to become unstuck when something isn’t working.
What do you use to keep your ideas organized? Are you outlining before writing? And if not, what ways work for you?