Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Story Seeds / Writing Tips # 10 - Hurrah for an Idea Notebook!

For the next few months my blog is featuring writing tips gathered from my own experience of growing story seeds into published books. 

Story Seed: “I don't want to be the cat. I always have to be the cat. I hate being the cat!”
          I opened my idea notebook and there they were...three sentences of dialogue spoken at least four years earlier. It had become totally lost among the thousand other things that had happened.  But I was on the search for a story idea...and here it was.
(c) 2013 Ruth Ohi 

Book Title: And You Can Be The Cat (illustrations by Ruth Ohi, Annick 1992)

The Writing Tip: Keeping a notebook, journal or diary is a huge benefit to a writer -- we've all heard that one more than once!  A beginning writer, however, sometimes feels that she or he has to officially sit down and capture every nuance from a certain moment in time for it to count ...and that can lead to avoiding the task entirely.  
     So here's my trick.  I give myself permission NOT to write down every last detail. My goal is always "just get a few words down on paper."  I often do indeed write more but even a single line is better than letting a great idea (character, location, oddball thought or snippet of dialogue) slip away. 
     Here are some of the shorter bits and pieces that speckle my notebooks:
      - an unusual way of looking at a common-place event
      - a theme that particularily speaks to a child's view of the world
      - a bit of humour ... that lovely unexpected touch
      - strange and amazing facts
      - an idea that screams "story!" even though I have no idea as yet how to build it into something with a beginning, middle and end. 

    The original three lines of dialogue never did get written into the actual story itself. The pacing of the tale called for action not discussion at that point (another thing I'll talk about in future posts). But it all began with the immediacy of that moment -- and a tiny bit of its associated emotion -- being captured on paper. 

        Write those ideas down!

(c) All Rights Reserved. All blog text(except comments by others) copyright Hazel Hutchins.

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