Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Trip Through the Idea File.

"Who'd follow us to a grave-robbing?"

That's the first line in my file of story ideas.  It's for a short story I came up with over a decade ago, about a human thief and a minotaur monk-type who are out robbing graves in search of something.  I no longer remember what they're looking for, which is why I wrote it down.  But every time I open that file, I see that line, first thing.

I'd like to think it represents something significant and spend the rest of this blog entry developing that metaphor, but really, it just reminds me that I'm not much good at short stories.  :P

It's weird to look through the idea file, though.  There's all kinds of stuff in there that I've forgotten about, things I started on in one form or another that crashed and burned, notes on what's basically the same plotline and setting done three or four different ways, so on and so forth.  There might actually be notes for the one story I wrote that got published; I'm not sure because I haven't dug through that section of the file for years.

I don't know if everyone has a file like this, but I think everyone should.  There's a ton of weirdness and "What the hell does that even mean?" in here, but it's interesting to read through and see all the things I've forgotten, things I've remembered, things I'm still trying to find a way to make work.

For example, not long after I learned about New Adult, I plotted out a college-age story involving fae.  This is one of the more involved ideas, as my notes stretch for nearly two pages.  It deals with a guy who doesn't believe his new-age hippie-ish mom when she tells him not to take off the crystal she's made him wear since he was a little kid, and finds that there's an old family bond with the fae that comes into play when he takes the crystal off and the fae can find him.  The whole thing ends with an epic human-vs.-fae rap battle, which I swear makes perfect sense with the rest of the plot.

It's also only the second plot I've written with sex as a plot device, so there's that.

That's not the only college-age story in my file either.  College was easily the best years of my life so far (screw you, high school), so I like writing stuff set in that era and area.  I've had a lot of trouble getting any of those stories to work, so maybe you really can't go back.  Someday, I tell myself.

Looking through my notes also shows some themes I seem to be stuck on.  Lots of stuff about people usurping their gods or gods otherwise dying.  Lots of stuff about people gaining extraordinary powers.  And at least one would-be plot that combines the two.  Not sure where the ending-gods stuff comes from, but the gaining-powers thing I'm pretty sure comes from being exposed to the X-Men right as I became a teenager when that idea would most appeal to me.

It's sometimes depressing to look through the file, though, because it's full of things I haven't done.  I try to counter that by thinking it's only things I haven't done yet, though I'd have to live to be three hundred or so to get all these stories written.  But I think I've blogged before about how some of my best ideas come from putting two unrelated story ideas together.  And that's what this file is best for.

It would be pretty redundant to say "I'm working on something new" in this blog.  I mean, I'm a plotter.  I'm always working on something new, trying to find ways to make a story out of disparate ideas and settings and random facets of character.  And this is why I keep everything, why I write everything down.

Because sometimes, I glance through the idea file and find something I'd forgotten, or something I'd abandoned long ago.  And sometimes, I get that flash of inspiration, of connection, and that's the beginning of something awesome.  Or at least something I hope will be awesome, if I can figure out how to make it work.

Does anyone else have a file like this?  Long text document, massive stack of note cards, notebook filled with enough scribbles to make it look like a madperson's diary?  You don't have to share what's in it, but I'd like to know if I'm not the only one.  ^_^

Next week: IWSG.  What will it cover?  IDEK.


  1. Sounds like you have enough to keep you going. You should try some of the college stories since new adult is gaining in popularity.
    I don't have a file like that. Wish I did.

    1. I've heard varying bits and pieces on how popular New Adult is or isn't. But we'll see what happens. Writing this has made me curious to see if that story would work, so I might pick it up again.

      And yes, I definitely have enough to keep me going, possibly for the rest of my life. If you don't have a file like this, nothing stopping you from making one. ^_^ You can't have mine, though.

  2. I love that when you got to the end of your post, you completely gave up on bringing along anyone but the people who speak acronym. FWIW, I had to look up IDEK. So, yeah, learned something.

    1. I saw a chance for parallel acronyms and went with it. :P

  3. I've only recently become organized (was it yesterday?) where I actually put folders together and named them accordingly: short stories, memoir pieces, scraps. Before that, I had anywhere from twenty to fifty separate documents, all starts or ''scraps' of different projects.

    I get everything you're saying in this post, which is great by the way (and I agree with you - every writer should have an 'idea' file) but instead of feeling down about all these things you started and never finished, you should feel awesome that you came up with so much material! The more ideas the better, right? I hope you DO live to be three hundred so you can write them all and I can read them.

    Idea files... just proof you've been working hard for years ;)

    1. I like that way of looking at it, thank you. ^_^ And I do try to look at these things more positively, like it's a file full of possibilities, not just things I haven't done. It doesn't always work, but I try.

  4. I do have a Drafts and Ideas file. In fact, most brand new manuscript start out in that file and only after I've fully committed to them do they graduate to their own file (titled in capital letters). Occasionally, I do open the documents in that file, just to see what's there.

    Like you, there's a lot of: Um, what was that supposed to be about? Where did I plan to take this? What did that mean?

    On another note, I also have a folder in my Chrome Bookmarks specifically for websites and news articles that spark my interest and might some day turn into a story.

    1. Heh, I do much the same - some of my novel plotting documents started as a few paragraphs in the idea file that I cut-and-pasted into new files. I don't title stuff in caps, though, as I don't like to feel like my filenames are yelling at me. :P

      And I'm stealing the idea of the bookmark folder for future story fodder. Time to make that and get my bookmarks reorganized...