Writing 101: Finding Ideas

Hi everyone! To make up for lack of posts this past weekend, I have a few posts planned back to back. With any luck, my Internet connection will allow them to go through!

In this post, I will share some ideas on how to gain inspiration. Though each idea could be placed into its own post, I use everything at the same time, and each post would be really short.

First, I’ve already shared this one in a previous post. Pinterest. You can make as many boards as you’d like. You could have one board for the inspiring images for all your stories, or you could have multiple boards, one for each story or world you plan to write about.

On the I-Pad, there is an app called “Mental Class” where you can create virtual index cards that allows you to put images onto the front so you can see at a glance what is on the card. More on this in another post where I’ll go into more detail.

“Corkulous” is another I-Pad app where you can “pin” images, index cards and more on a virtual corkboard. This app allows you to type up notes, make labels and more. I believe I had a post about this app before, but I will go back and double check.

One more app I have gone over for the I-Pad is called “A Novel Idea”. This app allows you to write down your ideas in templates for characters, scenes, novels and more. You can also type up whole scenes which you can type over in your manuscript.

Here is an idea I got the year I got my first computer and began typing a story. I got a spiral notebook and used images that I cut out from magazines and catalogs that inspired my story. I even used the salespapers from the local paper to find faces of people who were easy to remember. Have you seen someobdy in one of these formats that you thought would work as a character in your story? Go ahead and cut them out! I did this and then used Scotch tape to tape the edges to the paper within the notebook. I’m going to go back over with clear packaging tape to further protect the images, even though they still look great after 15 years!

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Pinterest as Inspiration

Many novelists know this tip, though it is good to remind those who may have forgotten, or to inform those who haven’t thought of it before. As the title suggests, Pinterest is an excellent app/website for a novelist to create boards for inspiration. Although nobody else will understand what the boards are named for, you can create a board with the name of your novel. You can then search the app/website for pictures that would be excellent visuals to inspire scenes, characters and anything else you can think of. You can also upload your own pictures into the board. If you are concerned that somebody could steal your ideas, you can switch the board to a private one, so only you will be able to see it. I believe the prerequisite is needing to have a Facebook account, though I could be wrong about this. So, go ahead and give this a try if you are a visual person and remember, have fun!

Tech 101: A Novel Idea App

This post is the start of our Tech 101 series, which will be explaining the different technology out there for writers. Today we will begin with the Apple Store app, “A Novel Idea”, which I think is an easily overlooked app if you didn’t know anything about it.

First off, at the time of this posting, the app was 2.9 MB (Megabytes for those not familiar with the acronym), and the full version is only $2.99, which includes the ability to write out scenes within the app.

This app is extremely intuitive for most anybody. At the bottom you have the different tabs. The first tab is the “Novels” tab, where you set up the name of your novel, setting, theme, tone, POV (Point of View), premise and plot. Below that, you can group your novels (if they are parts of a series, I believe. I haven’t tried this part yet), attach scenes and attach ideas. The scenes and ideas are both in their own tabs at the bottom of the app.

The next tab is the “Scenes” tab, which will allow you to write your scenes. Under this tab, each scene has the ability to write in the title, novel, act, time, location, plot type, description and tension. Below these are sections to attach characters and ideas to the scene. At the top right-hand corner, you’ll see a little pencil shape and a trash bin. The pencil shape when pressed will turn the page over so that you can write your scenes.

The “Character” tab might be the most detailed tab of them all, not surprisingly. The options include name, role, age, species, race, gender, height, build, hair color, eye color, skin tone, character description, external conflict, external motivation, internal conflict, internal motivation, education, skills/talents, fears/phobias, traits, current residence and previous residence. Below these options are the option to add relations to other characters, attach novels, attach scenes and attach ideas.

The “Location” tab allows you to name the location, give it a description and attach it to novels, attach it to scenes and attach it to ideas.

For the “Ideas” tab, you can give it a name, description and attach it to any of the other categories.

As you can see, this is one powerful app, especially for on-the-go transit where you would be sitting with nothing to do for awhile. This feature is also great for the months of NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, where you have to meet a deadline of so many words of your novel within those months. If you guys decide to give this app a try, I hope you find it as amazing as I do!

Organizing Your Story Information

Everybody has a different way to organize their files whether they keep physical copies in spiral notebooks or if they use computer files.

I’m still trying to find the perfect organizing method for myself. My mind seems to like having multiple copies of the same thing in multiple places (although a flash drive for external backup is a great idea!) that causes me to look for the documents I need. I have physical copies of my character sheets stowed away in a portable plastic file box. Each of the novels I am working on has a hanging file. Within those hanging files I have categories such as “Characters”, “Setting” and any sort of research that I might need. Each category has a paper folder with brads in the middle. Within those brads are my documents within sheet protectors. I like having something physical to hold while I write, that way I am not switching between screens as I try to find an important detail.

The I-Pad has a few of good apps for those who want more portability than a heavy file box. I found that Corkulous is an excellent program to organize your notes. I suggest purchasing the full app, as the free version only allows you to create one board. I like to have one board for each of my series. This app is pretty much a virtual corkboard with sticky notes, index cards and even another corkboard (which is great for each individual book in a series. Each corkboard has all the previous features and more available.). If space is at a premium in your home, this is going to be the answer.

Another app I really enjoy is the app called “A Novel Idea”. This app allows you to create novels on your I-Pad. It allows for organization with your files, including pictures. You can write individual scenes and assign them to a novel. This is also great for on the go.

“Sorted” is an app that allows you to make lists. If you are a list-taker, this app is for you. Sure, the notepad app can do the same thing. Sorted makes the lists look nicer, though.

“Scrivener” is a program that I think many story writers of all forms have heard of. This program allows you to write individual scenes so that it is easy to go back and edit it when necessary. You do not have to deal with one large document to scroll through when using this program. There are too many features to list here for this post. This and the other programs will each get their own posts at a later date with our Tech 101 series.

Many people like to use their own Wiki pages to organize their information. If they are using an online version, I believe that others can edit the pages, which would cause the original poster to go back and fix everything. The best program for this is a program called “Zimwiki”, which is an offline wiki program that can also be stored on a flash drive.

We will offer more program ideas as we come across them. For now, I hope this small list is helpful for everyone!