Paper Corners and Post-Its

In the middle of class while jotting notes, an idea strikes. Does this plot bunny go before Herbert Hoover, or after, in the section for the Great Depression? At least if its there I’ll know where to look when I have writers block.

So many of my spiral notebooks get doodles into the margins, or small to-do lists for my day. A greater number get marked with tidbits of dialogue, or maybe a strange anecdote that could be important for character development. Or to help create a character.

The biggest problem becomes when I have a short story due and my nearest idea is on the other side of the drift.

And of course these notebooks are nowhere to be found.

When I still lived at home, I’d put my ideas on post-it notes in a small box. They’d live there until perhaps it cropped up again, only this time attached to more than just its paper. I’d get lucky and there was a whole story clutching on to it for dear life, waiting to be written. This idea worked out so well, I started doing it in college, and its worked so far.

wall photoMaybe not as well as I would hope since occasionally the post-its fall off and land in that black hole behind my desk (actually that space is rather clean). Now I’ve resorted to scotch tape, and when I remember it, Facebook messaging myself the idea. At least then it will live somewhere other than a pink post-it on my wall.

The larger ideas get to live somewhere fresh. For my most recent thought vomit, I’ve put up a piece of butcher paper above my bed and wrote about a single idea. Its every possible question I and some close friends have come up with in relation to a story idea noted in one of the pictured post-its. I’ve garnered more strange looks for the paper on my wall than the post-its; which makes sense given the fact the paper is a large section of my wall with questions and thoughts in thick black marker.

How do you like to keep track of your plot bunnies? Do you put them in the corners of notes, or napkins? Or is there a specific system that you think I should employ to organize my various ideas?

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Every Word Matters

I’ve spent a good portion of my life stringing words together.

And while not everyone enjoys that task, I have a deep passion for being a wordsmith.

During a writing course at the community college I previously attended, we read Hemingway’s A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Immediately I saw the beauty in making every word count. There’s something pleasant about sparse prose that keeps me reading. I don’t know how to describe it.

After reading a few more Hemingway shorts, I gave myself a challenge. Push my style and my language. Don’t just string words together, but explore storytelling in a minimalist fashion. Make every word and every sentence matter.

And I suppose its worked.

My nonfiction essays have grown shorter, until my last one was barely over a page. Maybe there are details I’m leaving out.

Only way to know if this is working for me is when I start submitting my essays for publication.