You see a writing prompt (or, for those with a SERIOUS writer’s mind, any given picture) and a scene instantly plays out in your head. Characters leap into action, and suddenly you have an idea for your next book.
But, how do you get that idea from your head onto a piece of paper without totally mutilating it?
And what if you don’t have anything nearby to write on?
1 – Write it down AS SOON AS YOU THINK IT
These days, even if you don’t have paper nearby, chances are there’s a phone or computer. Phones have these lovely things called “notes” that are basically an electronic notebook. Use them. I do. In fact, I had to clean out my notes the other day because my phone told me there was no room for more. Point being: remember to write them on something solid that ISN’T electronic at a future date.
If you write things down as soon as you think them, you’re more likely to get it down on paper without destroying how you see it in your head. It still may not be pretty, but at least you’ll have the idea on something where you won’t forget it.
2 – Write it down EXACTLY HOW YOU THINK IT
Be literal. If you see something, write it down, no matter how small the detail. Don’t tell yourself that you’ll “remember it”, because chances are you won’t. I’ve done that. “And then, I know that she gets kidnapped by (insert character name here) and he says ‘_____’, but I’ll definitely remember that.”
Spoilers: I didn’t.
So, take a long look at the scene in your head. Study the characters. See their quirks. Study the setting, notice the details. Find noises and smells and tastes.
Example: Stale air. You can both taste and smell that.
Be sure you get down EVERYTHING you see in your head. Everything.
3 – Keep a Writing Journal
I call mine my “Inspiration Notebook”. It’s a simple composition notebook that my sister decoupaged for my birthday, and it goes everywhere with me. If I’m on the move (even from upstairs to downstairs) that book is in my hand. Why? Because then I can write down every single little idea that comes to me. I’m talking everything from “Something about a girl/guy that does _____” to a very intricate detailed scene from my latest endeavor.
I found this tip in a writing article a few years back, and let me tell you this has been one of the most helpful things I have ever done. I find myself thinking farther into a story before sitting down to write it. I write down one idea, and others present themselves. It has increased my efficiency 100 fold. You should really try it.
4 – Don’t delete anything
I know people say this a lot, but it’s true. If a scene (or name or action or settings) doesn’t work for your immediate story/script just set it aside. Don’t discount it as unusable. Maybe it doesn’t fit now, but maybe it will fit in your next work of art.
I know, personally, I have a list of names I want to use, and some of them I haven’t had the gut feeling that they FIT yet. But they will. One day. Same with settings and scenes. I have some things I want to do that sound really cool, but the scene doesn’t fit the story yet.
Don’t give up. You can write better than you believe you can. Get those ideas from the movie screen in your head onto a blank piece of paper. Say it after me: “Blank page, I thwart thee!”
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