A Plot Notebook

Many writers keep a notebook handy just in case a brilliant, or even a not so brilliant, idea comes to them while shopping, sitting in the doctor’s surgery, having a coffee, or while doing the chores. Ideas can pop into our heads at any moment. Some writers carry a notebook at all times. Others have one beside their bed or near the computer, or, in both places. And others…well, they don’t use a notebook…ever.

What goes into these notebooks?

Everything from phrases that won’t leave your head until you write them down, possible character names, story titles, full character profiles, snippets of scenes and, of course, story plot ideas.

However, you don’t have to limit the content to the above. You can, and should, include little things you discover in your daily wanderings. For example, you might see a certain type of flower in full bloom in April – this should be noted in the notebook so that you don’t write a story with that flower coming into bloom in November. How silly would you look for that blunder? You can also include alternative names for medieval occupations, parts of an aeroplane, important facts about history, political milestones, and much more.

Not only can great story ideas come from these snippets of information, you may also discover they can help keep your plots realistic (as shown in the example of the flower already mentioned). Do you have aliens come from a known planet which, after a description, the reader knows they couldn’t possibly survive on that planet? Do you have a journalist working for an ancient Egyptian pharaoh? It’s important to get things right or we lose our credibility.

Some writers use their notebook on a daily basis. Others only use them occasionally. But what about the writers who never use a notebook? How do they cope, I wonder.

Do you use notebooks?

6 thoughts on “A Plot Notebook”

  1. I have a note book but I generally don’t use it fro notes. I use it for writing. I have used it for some “first” drafts. It give me the oportunity to do a first edit when I type it in.

  2. My notebook is a page (and a half) of one line story ideas – so I don’t forget them – usually just a title. If it doesn’t make it onto the tablet – I’ll soon forget the brilliant idea, and it has NO hope of ever being writtin. Unlike the meager hope of the story ideas currently on my yellowing sheets finding their way to a Wordperfect format one day!

  3. I have a small moleskine notebook I use sometimes to capture my story ideas, but often just grab what is closest, be it post-it notes or the back of a used envelope. Not the most efficient way of doing things, but it helps me remember ideas.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, everyone. It’s interesting to see how other writers “file”.

    I have been using a notebook more often, but I often write the ideas etc onto a piece of paper and put them into a folder. Some of the ideas in that folder are fully plotted already, other are just cool titles, or a few sentences that could turn into something fabulous later.


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