5.28.2014

Writing tip #1: Write stuff down

On a scale of 1 to earth-shattering this probably doesn’t raise a tremor at first glance. Great advice numb-nuts! How else do you propose to write anything if you don’t write stuff down?

A fair point well made internal-dialogue-person. But allow me to retort.

I’m not limiting this to actually writing a story – in fact that’s the least important part of the writing stuff down routine. I’m talking about all the weird fishes that swim into your brain in the small hours. The pithy one-liners that jump out at you just after you could have used one to win an argument. The scenic gems, the character names…write them down.


I’ve got a Word document with all kinds of scribbles in it. Hilariously I called it Pandora in honour of the world’s most famous box (prior to the release of the Kim Kardashian sex tape). It’s got all manner of strange and wondrous things lurking within – some of which I’ve used, some of which I may never use. It’s a great place to browse around before a writing session and it is filled with things that I can’t remember writing.

The point being…if you can’t remember it even after writing it down what chance do you have of it staying in your head?

Take the old theme of slavery and human trafficking and modernise it. Check out the droptag press launch as a way to monitor the consignment.

I wrote that after hearing about an application called Droptag on the radio which essentially allows you to get readouts of how your luggage has been treated in transit. A couple of weeks later I had an idea for a character, I joined it with this idea and wrote a story called Damaged Goods. From that I wrote another story called Safe House with the same characters and I’m planning on expanding it further with futuristic human trafficking at the core.

It begins as most things do with a man talking to an imaginary cat. I can’t remember when I wrote this down (or indeed why) but it became the opening line for a story called Crouching Feline Hidden Lobster.

I noted one Sunday afternoon that the gap between our toaster and the fridge looks like the place that bread rolls go to die. That ended up in a story called Oats.

Sometimes it’s a lot more complicated. I’ve got about six paragraphs of notes about Welsh Halloween traditions – most of which got used in Ysbrydnos: Night of Spirits.

Last night I discovered that there’s line in there about experience (there’s a theme based competition currently running on Shortbread Stories that requires use of the word “experience”) that starts with the clich├ęd idea of a dying man reflecting on his life experiences. I’ve added a badly spelled note (suggesting a late night scribble) with the words maybe he fathered all the blokes from One Direction.

I have no idea how to process that right now.

Anyway you get my point so I’ll push off and stop trying to pretend that I know anything about writing.

But hey…if it helped write it down and tell me…

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