The other day I bought a trio of notebooks. Just your standard 5×7 lined journals with one red, one blue and one green cover. If you know anything about me, you know I have OCD so the notebooks are my way of keeping my writing organized when I am in “brainstorm” mode.
I started with the first, the one with the red cover, and labeled it Characters. My first page is titled FEMALE. This is where I keep a list of female names that strike my fancy. The second is titled MALE. The third is LAST NAMES. Fourth is PET NAMES, but since I don’t need near as much space for that, about 1/3 of the way down I titled another BAR/CLUB NAMES. I know it has more to do with place than characters, but for some reason, I added it anyway. Maybe it’s because I needed one for my current story, who knows. I left a gap of pages then started my first Character. Top left hand goes their name. If I don’t have one yet, I leave it blank. Top right hand goes their mystical type. That may sound funny to those of you who are prone to writing non-fantasy works, but the main reason I actually started this particular notebook was because I am starting a new fantasy series which will have many types of supernatural beings. If mystical beings aren’t your thing, you can add a stereotype (ie: bubbly cheerleader, goth chick, dumb jock, etc.) Beneath that I begin the description of their appearance. Then goes their key personality traits and quirks. Last, but not least, I add in a history of their life until now or what will become of them. I make notes of anything else as I go, family, friends, goals, etc. After yet another gap in pages (the majority of the notebook, actually) I started a small section in the back for general back-stories. ie: Legend of the very first shape-shifter, creation of a Lich Queen, etc…
The second notebook, this time green, is not yet labeled. I’m not exactly sure what to call it at this point. I just know that it’s for all things fantasy/supernatural. The first page, I made a list of any class/race/species/mystical being I could think of (ie: witch, vampire, healer, psychic, fey, ghost, demon, angel, etc.) Then, each page is titled with the main subject and any notes regarding that specifically. I started with witch. Then, as I googled, wiki’d, etc. I jotted down any interesting facts, ideas, rules that interested me so that I could flip back to those pages any time I was dealing with that particular subject.
I haven’t started my third notebook yet, but I think it’s going to be filled with things such as forgotten artifacts and mystic weapons, or I might just add that to the back part of the second if I can find a different use for the third.
Anyway, that gives you a better idea of how my obsessive brain works. I’m so eager to start writing, but my OCD is literally stopping me from doing so. I feel like I can’t write anything until I have the whole thing perfectly plotted. I have a main idea, but now coming up with all the in-between stories and having them connect is a nightmare. It’s like this big huge mess in my brain that is spinning in circles and I can’t get it to stop. I think I use the brainstorming as an excuse not to write. But it’s like the more I research and find, the more complicated it gets. And I’m so obsessed with getting it perfect that I can’t focus on anything else. Not until I have that Aha! moment and everything falls into place. I don’t think I can approach this as your average person with the advice of just write and it will come. There’s a block in my brain that won’t let me do that. I can’t even write a stream of consciousness. I can’t write at all unless it’s me explaining something as myself (like this post) or if I’m describing something that is happening around me at that moment. It’s ridiculously frustrating.
So, here it is. Another day that I will spend finding new and mystical characters, objects and ideas instead of focusing on what I really want and that is the story itself. However, I WILL ask that if anyone has any unused back stories, personalities or fairytales to contribute, please don’t hesitate to pass them on to me! I’m dying to find that perfect plot connection and the smallest spark is sometimes all it takes.
Until then, wish me luck. And good luck to you if you’re seeking a more organized solution to your writing habits. If you’re looking for a way to straighten your mess, I’ll be glad to help in any way I can, just ask. Trust me, it’s what I do best!