Recently, I wrote a post about how I use music to inspire me and keep me going when I’m writing. I thought I’d come back today and share a bit more about what inspires me to start writing a new novel or short story in the first place and how I begin getting the story down on “paper.”
Inspiration comes in a lot of forms. There have been times when a line in a movie, a song, a photo that passes across my Pinterest feed, or even something in my environment gives me a vision of the next story I want to work on.
Other times, I see a location in my mind and a line or character comes to mind. Those are honestly the ones I love the most. My usual way of dealing with these story ideas is to type them up quickly so I kind of seal in that original vision. In my “writing” folder on my computer, I have the beginning stages of a variety of novels. Some have at least a chapter – some only have a few pages. Either way, I get out enough that when I come back to it eventually, I have a clear picture of who the protagonist is and the overall plot.
For instance, I have a character named Lacey – her story needs to be told. But I’m not ready for the entire novel just yet. I’ve written bits and pieces of her story though. I can close my eyes and picture where and how she grew up. And I know where her story is leading her.
My current novel came to me in bits and pieces of inspiration from a job I applied for, a town I have dreamed up (I want to live in a town like this), and a complicated relationship between two best friends. But I was also inspired (but not at all) by Taylor Swift’s newest album. The story isn’t really anything like Folklore.
But as with anything in art and life, sometimes your inspiration comes from a direction you don’t expect. Folklore is melancholy in some ways. And even when it’s not, it evokes a certain romantic memory of something that once was – or almost was. Even the album cover perfectly fits the mood.
As always, I’m writing a love story. And not just the protagonist’s love story. But more on that another day. Ultimately, inspiration finds me just about anywhere.
Organizing, however, is a little overwhelming for me sometimes. In order to keep all my “facts” straight, I use a writing tool called Scrivener to plot out my novels and eventually to begin writing.
But back to Scrivener. I bought this a few years ago and have never regretted it. Not too long ago I came across K.M. Weiland’s template for structuring and outlining your novel. While I’m usually more of a seat of the pants kind of writer, I have felt, in recent times, that my new novel ideas need more planning than my older writing.
I don’t use each and every part of the template. But I use a lot of it. I’ve found it to be a huge help in getting the creative juices flowing. It helps me think through the structure with a little more effort than the past.
Features in the template I find most useful:
- General Sketches (beginning your outline)
- Premise (includes asking What If, Reader Expectations, and Premise Sentence)
I will probably use the character sketch section this time around, too. This template will serve as my scrapbook of sorts as I work through this novel. I will have a separate notebook within Scrivener for the actual novel itself. I organize by chapter and scene. Each chapter is a folder and the scenes make up the actual writing within the chapter/folder. I like breaking the scenes up because the smaller sections help me feel as though I’m accomplishing something. 🙂
Scrivener gives you the ability to compile everything electronically so when you export it, all of the scenes appear seamlessly in each chapter. Overall, I think that by organizing all of the inspiration into 1-2 of my Scrivener notebooks, I have increased productivity.
If you’re a writer following along – what is a favorite tip or two you use to organize and structure your novel? Or, what inspires you to write in the first place?