5 Tips To Sorting Your Writing Ideas

Photo by Andrea Kratzenberg

Photo by Andrea Kratzenberg

Laundry and I have a love hate relationship. It loves to grow. I hate to do laundry. You can laugh if you want, but a house of six, three of which are young boys who love dirt, dares and sports can challenge even the most dedicated laundry expert. Which. I’m. Not.

In all my mommy wisdom, I have begun to teach my kids laundry basics. Hey, it sure beats my husband wearing pink socks whenever the kids help out with the laundry. As you can guess, the first major piece of wisdom I shared with my kids was how to sort colors before putting them in the washer.

As writers sometimes we come out with pink plot, just like my husband’s socks. What am I talking about? The simple mix-up that occurs when we sort our ideas incorrectly and place them in the plot.

Brainstorming is a powerful tool for writers, but sometimes we don’t know what to do with the ideas we have during a brainstorming session. We either put them in the wrong part of the book or add them to a book they don’t fit in.

5 Tips To Sorting Your Writing Ideas:

*Create a Dumping File on Your Computer. You may have some fabulous ideas while brainstorming that have nothing to do with this story. Put those ideas into an idea file to be used later. Recognize that writing is a long-term pursuit. You don’t have to use all of your great ideas at once.

*Create a Three Act Structure Grid on Paper. (It can also be on a white board.) As ideas come to your mind determine which part of the book they fit in the best. Stick the idea on a post-it note and place it under that Act of the book. Don’t worry about individual order at this time. If you prefer, Scrivener can be helpful in this process.

*Create a Character Scene Page on Paper. As you have ideas for individual scenes, put these ideas on a post-it note and place it on the page. After you have completed plotting your ideas from tip one, then you can create a story grid from these using a three act structure chart. (Once again, this works well in Scrivener.)

*Create a Dialogue Idea Page. As you brainstorm, if funny comments come to mind or powerful phrases. Write them down on a piece of paper with the initials of who will say them. This will help you come up with creative dialogue and a general sense for the way you want a certain character to talk. If a particular bit of dialogue stands out to you, but doesn’t belong in this book, save it for later.

*Sort Your Ideas By Point of View. It is important to ask yourself who would be the most powerful POV perspective for each scene. Also, giving each character’s POV a different colored post-it will help you to visualize immediately if you have a balanced number of scenes per POV.

What sorting techniques have you found helpful while brainstorming?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

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