This may come as a shock, but do you know what a crucial part of novel writing is? Ideas. Boom. Yep- characters, plot lines, story arcs, scenes…you not only have to come up with all of those things, but then also put them together in way that makes sense. You know what you have to do before you can do any of that? Remember the ideas that you have.
I actually consider myself to be a pretty good “idea person”. In fact, in the process of writing my novel I’ve been surprised at how frequently new ideas pop into my mind. However, due to the ever-present stream of Irony in my life, those ideas usually have nothing to do with the story I’m working on. Alternatively, if they DO have something to do with the story I’m working on, then they pop into my mind at the literal most inopportune moments possible. Moments when not even one of the mini notepads or pens from my SAMs club “no one will ever need this many of these” sized packs are within my reach.
I’m sure some of you are thinking, “You do have a cell phone, no?” Ah, well, let me tell you the tale of the time I woke out of a dead sleep because of a dream that gave me an idea I had to get written down immediately. Side note- I hate waking up. I hate it at 7am, I hate it at 10am, and I especially hate it at 2:45am. So if something is going to make me disturb my own sleep, obviously I think it’s important.
So here we are, 2:45am. (I bolded that, because 2:45am) I blindly smacked at the nightstand reaching for my phone, entered the wrong pass-code twice, and frantically typed my idea in ‘evernote’ before rolling back over. Ah, the contented slumber of someone who knows she finally succeeded in documenting a big idea.
The next morning I woke remembering the incident, but for the life of me I could not remember the specifics of my idea. No surprise there, I’d had enough self-awareness to know that would be the case, hence my urgency to write it down. I grabbed for my phone and opened the newest entry. I still have it. Here’s what it said:
Sonebro mothr codnt bc se die. Styed for dad-=scted.
Well, that clearly did not go as planned. I then sat there attempting to decode what those letters in those orders may have meant I was trying to type… I did not succeed. If any of you out there has advanced decoding skills, or really like puzzles and riddles…or regularly uses those brain-trainer apps (that I can’t do because I end up worried I have early-onset dementia when I try), your input would be greatly appreciated.
The moral of the story is: don’t wake me in the middle of the night. The second, equally as important, moral of the story is that I need to find a more efficient and reliable way to compile all my story ideas while simultaneously filing away the good, but unrelated ones. I have a general idea of what I want to happen in my story, the main characters, and even the title. What I struggle with is a clear story arc from start to finish. I have fantastic (well, I think so) scene ideas that I know have to be in the story ‘somewhere’, but when I sit down and try to tease out what the actual POINT of the story is going to be I end up having a staring contest with myself in the computer screen. But I win. I always win.