Monday, 2 February 2015

Organising the Mess

Monday, 2 February 2015
*This post is for the monthly theme - The Ideas We Carve* 

So often, I find myself struck by a new idea, an image, a character, a feeling, anything, and I need to get it down somewhere i.e. the plot bunny. If I haven't got access to a computer at the time it usually gets jotted down in a notepad. All I have to do then is remember it is there so I can type it up later, or it will just get lost in pages of notes. For some reason, I have always used Microsoft Office Powerpoint for noting down ideas. When I was younger, I used to have lots of ringbinders filled with ideas and drawings. I don't do that anymore but I still use Powerpoint. But recently I started using OneNote for my ideas and planning. The way it works makes it really easy to organise things. So, I thought I would write a post about organising ideas.

Plot bunnies can be great, but they can also be extremely annoying because they can get in the way of something else you're trying to work on, demanding your attention. Some great ideas can come from plot bunnies, but you need to know when to spend your time on them and when to put them to the side for a time. So, here are some scenarios:

  1. You've been stuck for ideas for a while and have been on a bit of a go slow with writing. Great! Plot bunnies can be really useful in this situation. If I've been having this problem then a plot bunny seems like a miracle and I dive right in. 
  2. You've got a few ideas that you've been playing with. Right, now I have to think about if I have the time/brain power to think about another idea, or have I already got too much on my plate with the ones I'm juggling at the moment. Sometimes in this situation it can be best to just make a note of your thoughts/ideas somewhere and come back to it later. 
  3. You've been planning a novel for ages and you've started writing it and, most importantly, you intend to work on only that so you can finish it. No, although I have so often said this to myself when I've started writing a novel, I have many times found myself becoming distracted by plot bunnies. This really is a situation in which to shelve the idea for now. Although it might seem to tempting to work on it, you'll end up not finishing that other book. Obviously, if you have an idea make sure to write it down, but just come back to it another time.
The plot bunny can be your friend or your foe, you just have to know how to tame it. 

So what about when it's time to bring that plot bunny out of hibernation? Whenever I have them those ideas inevitably ending up as a complete mess of random thoughts that mostly don't add up. The key to making an interesting idea into a solid plot is to get those ideas organised. When coming up with it, I generally collect ideas about it over a fairly long period of time, until I have enough material to bring it all together. Then I go through it all and decide what would work, what wouldn't, what is cliche, where there are any holes that need filling.

Different people have their own ways of going about this. For me, I usually end up putting all my ideas for the plot bunny in one document. Then when I come to the time when I want to write it I make a new, fresh document so I can organise those ideas, and paste in the things I want to keep/leave out the things I've decided to leave out. But then I still have the document with the original ideas in case I want to go back to them.

I never delete any of my ideas/bunnies. So the folder in my computer that has them all in has tonnes of folders of ideas. I couldn't bear to delete any, even if they're dreadful ideas from when I was ten. Sometimes, looking back through them, I can find some little gems of ideas that I had completely forgotten about, but which were just biding their time. 


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