The Last of the Ideas List (Part 3 of 3)

And finally, the last of the much too long ideas list (I haven't even mentioned the Tumblr draft section).

  1. unbaptised children who died out of wedlock turned into owly marsh-spirits
  2. X in the style of...
  3. Still on Patrol
  4. Editors are author's bartenders
  5. Super/meta-human schooling
  6. Humans as the galaxy terraformers
  7. "I’m just imagining this knight changing and looking at a pair of breasts like “…Those are new.” "
  8. Abbess Superior of the Authorial Confessional
  9. YA: vet tech for mage/wizards' familiars (dragons, etc.)
  10. Alternate English written as the pronunciation guide to words
  11. Vampires driven off by the Mourner's Kaddish
  12. Rats as psychopomp conductors of human souls to the afterlife
  13. Eclipse Phase Insurance fraud (It's the octopus's fault, okay?)
  14. Motto: Truth, Compassion, and Attention to Detail

The first one came from someone on Tumblr talking about either Swedish or Dutch folklore. When I initially read the post, it sparked an interesting scene in my mind. But I've lost it by now and it's not being recreated by rereading the notes now. I'd either have to read up on Swedish and/or Dutch folklore, which wouldn't be a bad thing. But I've got a long list of ideas I'm still excited to write about. So this one is coming off the list.

#2, X in the Style of ..., came from reading part of the Communist Manifesto in the style of Beowulf and thinking that would be a good exercise, to rewrite something famous in the style of something else from a different time period. This isn't high on the priority list, but I'll get to it eventually. Probably a flash fiction or short story length. 

#3 was, yet again, inspired by a Tumblr post. This one was about submarines: 

There is a tradition in the US Navy that no submarine is ever lost. Those that go to sea and do not return after considered to be "still on patrol."

— pipistrelle

There's definitely something ominous about that—there implication that, one day, they will RETURN from patrol.

— tharook

Space context asap

— bastlynn

There's a few places I can go with this — one, where are the subs, what are they doing? Two, what happens if they weren't wherever they've gone? Three, how have they changed since being gone? And Four, what happens if/when they come back? The idea needs more development though before I figure out which way I want to explore on this and get a guess on length.  

'Editors as author's bartenders' came from doing editing work on Red Markets combining with a scene from The Ship Who Searched (many years ago) where the bartender was also a licensed psychologist. 'Abbess Superior of the Authorial Confessional' came from talking about that editing work with a bunch of friends in a very long running group chat. Either work in my head as the setting of a short story and the vague suggestions of an outline of a plot. 

#5, super/meta-human schooling, is what happens when a bunch of geeks who are fans of a podcast that featured a campaign based on parodying the No Child Left Behind act start talking about a member's new comic book project set in a super-human high school. You end up talking about the ethics of busing non-metahumans into metahuman schools, the meta-teacher to non-meta ratio, after school mentoring programs, and the economics of the private schools snapping up the metahuman teachers on the market. This group is awesome. We frequently sidetrack ourselves into brainstorming gaming scenarios and other writing projects. I'm pretty sure there's enough her (from the teacher's perspectives) for a novella, probably a novel. I'll probably start by exploring the concept through some short stories though. For now, to the length uncertain list. 

#6, Humans as the galaxy terraformers, came from one of the 'humans are the weirdos' threads on Tumblr with the posit that humans evolved on, by galaxy standards, a death planet. And consequently get the 'terrible' planets to colonize and become the galaxy terraformers. Or front line terraforming species. I mentally took that and made the species the galaxy conservationists too. I'm thinking short story on this one. Eventually.

#7 is a quote from the Drunk & Ugly folks. I think. I should have taken notes. Whoops. 

#9 also came from the podcast fans group chat, from one of the members, who is also a writer, talking about their day job as a vet tech and how they wanted to write a story with all the snooty dog owners the encounter as the wizard and mages bringing in their familiars. I thought that sounded like an awesome story seed and shamelessly added it to my ideas list as well. Even if we start at the same core idea, we'll end up in very different places. I have to develop this character and their world more, even just inside my own head, beforeni'll have a feel for how long their story will be. 

#10. Does anyone else take a look at the pronunciation guide for words in dictionaries? One, I should learn to read those things, given how horribly I mangle pronunciation on occasion. Two, I want to rewrite a poem or something else shortish in pronunciation guide English, just to see what it would look like. Leave the grammar, sentence structure, and meaning, just do a straight up one-for-one substitution and see what comes out.

#11, vampires driven off by the Mourner's Kaddish, once again came from Tumblr, which I am beginning to maintain is the world's largest brainstorming and short writing session. Which I love about it. Seriously, read that post and tell me you don't want more in that universe.

The next one I'm going to delete. There's nothing wrong with 'rats as the psychopomp for human souls,' is just not enough for me to build a setting or story around. I'm sure it would be for others, it's just not working for me now. 

#13. Look the octopus started it, okay? In this case, that's actually true: I got the idea for writing a short mystery set in the Eclipse Phase universe based on what constitutes insurance fraud while writing the story off the writing prompt: "In my defense, the octopus started it." I mean, in a universe that canonically has sentient octopi and insurance in case of death, how could I not? 

The final and most recent idea came from a friend's assertion that if Clark Kent worked in a library, Superman's motto would be: Truth, Compassion, and Attention to Detail. As a cataloguing librarian, yes. So very much yes. So now I want to write a superhero (not Superman) who actually uses that motto.

 

And that's it for the current non-picture ideas list. Both written words and art pieces can work for me, although music and other sounds don't. Let me know in the comments how y'all keep track of your ideas and potential stories. I love swapping tools and tricks that work for other folks.   

More of the Ideas List (Part 2 of 3)

The other day, after reading over the previous post on the ideas list for typos and whatnot, Partner looked at me and said "I'm looking forward to the novel ideas." So let's try and get to at least one of those this time.  

  1. Teleporting SWAT team
  2. Invert The Fall of the House of Usher
  3. Warrior Kings 
  4. Poor Private Collins 
  5. Cellmates 
  6. Glamour for plainness 
  7. Izzy
  8. Fertility Deity
  9. Ghost rescuing 
  10. Totemic spirit animals of extinct species
  11. Ghost ship one-liners
  12. Hellocene era
  13. Locked spaceship ensemble mystery

Idea #1 came from thinking about superheroes and how I'd actually work to integrate them into society. Because maintaining the status quo is the first impulse of folks in power. And personally, I do prefer the rule of law. Anyways, my thought was, in a world with teleporters, why wouldn't you have a central dispatch to send specially trained SWAT teams (superpowered or not) in at local request. I'd route it through the FBI who already send task forces across the country. Something like the Justice League except part of the existing law enforcement I suppose. So that's a world setting to explore if/when I come up with characters and a plot. I could see this as anything from flash fiction to a novel to a series. So, onto the 'length uncertain' list.

#2 came from a couple writers on Tor.com talking about The Fall of The House of Usher about being the fridged woman in a Gothic horror story. With a psychic connection to your brother who's too busy being gothy to open the door. Sounded like a good idea so I wrote it down to take a stab at myself.

#3 came from a review of a Southeast Asian horror film review in... I think The Atlantic. The film was set at a psychiatric hospital (I think) where dead warrior kings were stealing life force from soldiers to continue fighting each other. With a set up like that, I mean how could I not want to play with the idea at some point.

Poor Private Collins came from playing a Call of Cthulhu game when Ethan, the GM, mentioned the different ways various group have played the scenario and the different results that's produced for an NPC. The idea was the NPC being aware of previous iterations of the scenario but unable to change his own behavior to affect the outcome. So he suffers through several deaths, praying for this new configuration of adventurers to finally get it right. Definitely a horror piece, the poor kid. But to write this one, I'd need to relisten to the recording of that session. And I really dislike hearing recordings of my own voice. Definitely a short story though, if I do it.

#5, Cellmates, stems from an article on how unlikely it was for complex organisms to form from simple bacteria. Which prompted the question: What if we are the only life in the galaxy that made both the leap from simple bacteria sized life to complex organisms AND into consciousness/sentience? I'd set this right as a bunch of scientists are coming to that conclusion, have them grapple with it for a bit. Make a report to some bureaucracy dealing with colonization and terraforming efforts.

#6 came out of reading Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist Histories series (well, the first three) and an article by a woman on what it's like getting approached all the time based on their looks. The thinking went that there would have to be at least one or two women who could cast illusions on themselves who would choose to alter her looks to avoid male attention. Which might be interesting in a Victorian comedy of manner piece. I'd aim for a short story out of the idea, but probably get a flash piece. Like I do.

Number seven, Izzy, is the one Partner's probably happiest to hear about. This reminder is a bit unusual for me in that it's just the one word and a name at that. No notes. No description. Just a nickname. And that's enough to remind me which setting I'm planning to place this novel in (PostHuman Studios' Eclipse Phase), the character (a Fall survivor stuck on Earth post apocalypse and evacuation), relationships (dead lover, dead smart-baboon companion, live smart-dog), opening scene/inciting incident, other characters (well, first draft sketches of them), and story structure/plot (travelogue/heist/adventure). Izzy's been gestating in my head for quite awhile. It's time to give her room to grow in the page. Just as soon as I finish off the current WIP, The Dangers of Fraternization.

The fertility deity idea, #8, came from Greg's backstory in our Monsterhearts campaign over on Technical Difficulties. His character's mom is a fertility deity which, combined with some friends having fertility issues, got me to start thinking about an old fertility deity in modern times and how they'd fit in. How would they feel about modern birth control? Or fertility treatments? Pretty sure this one would be short story.

The next one, ghost rescuing, came from a Tumblr post from RPPR's blog about people leaving reviews for haunted items they bought on eBay. Why are they buying these items? Are they reading the ghosts stuck to these items? Why? I'm just going to have to write this one to find out. And I don't know how long it'll take.

#10, Totemic spirit animals of extinct species, feels like an interesting seed of an idea with no supporting setting, characters, or plot. I don't know what to do with it, other than let it continue germinating and see if something else attaches to the idea to flesh it out.

I think #11 could be a lot of fun. I'd find copies of advertisements put in old newspapers announcing the sinking of sailing ships, then continue forward into the present day, the announcements getting shorter and more direct as the language style changes, and continue into the future, morphing the breadth of ships announced as lost to include submarines and container ships and finally spaceships. ... Oh dang it, I'm going to have to include the Russian cosmanauts, the Mercury fire, and Challenger. Well, that will make it harder to write a slow burn. I'll figure it out though. Short story or flash length, definitely. Too easy to wear out my welcome otherwise.

The Hellocene Era is a concept I learned about from the YouTube channel Kurzgesagt. The basic idea is that instead of counting of calendar from a religious dating perspective, we renumber the calendar based on when the archeological evidence says humans first built a temple. Which turns 2017 into 12,017. It is, once again, a seed of an idea, possibly just something to throw in the background of another story. Although, now that I'm thinking about it, I think I should pair it up with the totem spirits idea — humans are responsible for the most species-wide extinction events in recent (geologically speaking) history, so using when humans first really started altering the landscape around us as the apocalyptic marker to restart the calendar in totemic spirit society is rather appealing from a story telling perspective. I'll have to do that. Neat. 

#13, locked spaceship ensemble mystery, is just a plot, but one that combines my childhood era of too many mystery books and television shows with my ongoing love of science fiction into a locked room mystery where the locked room is a spaceship. If/when I build the setting and some characters for this plot, it should end up at novella length at minimum. I'll have to see though.

Going through the Ideas List

I think it is time to go through my list of story ideas again, discuss getting started on some of the prompts that'll turn into flash or short fiction and deleting the ones that have turned too cryptic or I won't get to for some other reason. If nothing else, on the personal level, explaining my organizational process will get me to reassess how it's working for me.

I have a paper and pencil notebook I write scenes freehand in, jot down quotes, and take notes on writing panels and videos on writing. Every so often (maybe twice a year), I'll go through the notebook(s) and copy any phrases or quotes that still spark story ideas into my to-do app (Wunderlist). In that app, in addition to my chores and day-to-day household stuff (very useful for reminding me to do stuff on an irregular schedule), I have lists for currently active projects, keeping up with this blog, things I want to look into for improving my writing, what I think of as administrativia, and finally, the relevant list: Story Ideas. 

There are 33 items on the list right now, one of which was added two days ago, while discussing a different piece I'd written with Partner. The list never ends... Or gets any shorter... At any rate, I'm thinking that I should break this list up into three lists and group the results in a folder labeled Story Ideas. The new lists would be flash/short stories, novellas, and novels, all based on how long I think the relevant idea would turn into, story-wise. I'll have to revisit that after I walk through the current list. 

The first item on the list is simply labeled 'Writing Prompts' and has the following sentences, phrases, snippets, and such saved as subtasks:

  1. "Let's just get this out of the way," I said. "One of you idiots is likely to die."
  2. Even astronauts get the blues: or why boredom drives us nuts.
  3. How DO you break up with a demon?
  4. "The tag line of the robot apocalypse is going to be 'From you okay? I learned it from watching you.'"
  5. Your Third Wheel is Flat
  6. Witches Brew
  7. Aesthetic terrorist
  8. "In my defense, the octopus started it."

The first one came from a blog post on Scalzi's website a few years back, as the first line of a project he was working on at the time. The second was a headline to a science article I saw on NPR at some point. The fourth one came from an episode of The Drunk & The Ugly (I don't even remember what they were talking about), and the seventh one comes from RPPR's Caleb describing Ross's taste in music, movies, books,... The last one I grabbed from Reddit's writingprompts subreddit the other day and ended up writing a story to on the commute home. Well, a first draft anyway. The rest, I honestly don't remember where they came from. 

Deciding to go through my list also got me to set up some Google documents and actually get started using these prompts. It's not like I'm going to magically have a story burst forth like Athena; I have to make the time to write them and setting up each with their own document eases the start-up cost for me. So yeah, in the week since I decided to write this post and made the documents, I've written a revenge fantasy piece for the first one that will almost certainly never see the light of day, a 635 word short for the second that I'm pleased with (needs a revision pass obviously, but they always do), am a third of the way into a story off the third prompt, and have a decent first draft off the eighth prompt.  

Look, the octopus started it, okay? 

In all seriousness though, I think I am going to delete the fifth and sixth ones as not meant to be. I'm not sure what I was thinking about when I wrote that the fifth one down anymore and it's not sparking any ideas now. Beyond a "is that word salad or something?" The sixth one is just too generic for me to want to save or work with right now. 

Please note that when I said first, I meant the first item that had been added, not the one at the top of the list. So if I mix up my terminology talking about the next (arbitrary) set of items, my apologies. But. This set is always a short two of three word encapsulation of the idea with notes attached to the item. The five oldest are:

  1. Second contact
  2. Summoned demon baby 
  3. Time loop 
  4. Superhero rape 
  5. AI authors 

Second Contact stems off of a story I read as a teenager about first contact between humans and another species, not on one or the other's home-worlds, but because both had sent scientific exploration ships to the same astronomically interesting spot on space. And let me tell you, tracking down that title and author roughly 15 years later when all you remember is the plot was a bit rough (Murray Leinster's First Contact from 1945 btw). My idea is that the two species have worked out a general treaty to share science exploration ('cause money/resources) and discover a third species, this time at their home planet. I'll be honest, I haven't read a first contact story with multiple species as one side before, which is part of why I want to write it. The tracking down the citation for the original story is because I do want to reread the original before I start, to try to be faithful to the technology and characterizations Leinster did. A bit of homage to a story that stuck with me for more than a decade and a half. I think this one would tend towards a long shot story or short novella, to do the complexity of the issues involved justice.

The second idea came from a scene I had pop into my head, probably somehow related to Hellboy. Not that I know what prompted me to recall Hellboy. But the scene was some poor schmuck in military fatigues standing in the middle of a summoning circle comforting a crying demon baby, and then trying to gingerly hand the baby back to their parent. Who'd now been summoned into the same circle. The story idea and notes then came from trying to work backwards from that scene in order to make it plausible and an appropriate stinger/story ending. This one is definitely in the short story range, possibly flash fiction.

I'm torn about the third one. It originated out of an impulse to invert the 'magical black person' trope, but I'm not sure I have enough of a plot or characters to justify this impulse. It'd use the crazy amount of cop dramas I grew up watching as a story structure, but beyond having an older white lady as the mentor and a younger queer black guy as the two leads and the guy eventually raising the baby version of the lady (hence the time loop), I don't really have that spark of what the story is. So do I keep this one in the list and periodically pull it out to try and develop it or let it go? I'm not sure yet, so it survives for a while more.

I'm just going to copy out my notes for number four:

First trial for mental rape via chemically/psychically forcing someone to feel sexual desire at a gay conversion 'therapy' camp.

Yeah, this one came out of reading about the comic Jessica Jones and television show.  Short story length.

Number four came out of reading a review of a new science fiction book, I think, and after review,  is probably going away. To quote my notes again: 

AI emulation of the author's mind comes with every copy of a book/game/text – how does literary critique change

This is sounding more like a think piece essay than a story now, and I do not have a background in literary critique, either the theory or the practice. Also I'm not finding it that interesting anymore, to be honest. I'm pretty sure I read that book review back when I first started critiquing and getting critiqued on Scribophile, which is probably why the idea of how critique would change if you had access to the author's creative process was interesting.  

So, there's some of the oldest ideas I've kept around for writing projects one day. Next week I'll walk through the other 27 more quickly, and possibly include talking about that Tumblr draft section I've got too.

On Trello

As promised, I tried out Trello for organizing what I need to do next to The Dangers of Fraternization (the current writing project) and have some thoughts to share with y'all.

I'm just not sure how much use I'm going to get out of Trello for my personal projects that I couldn't get out of my to-do list (I use Wunderlist, btw). I definitely see the utility for collaborative projects — it's been useful coordinating between Partner, myself, and Tom, the guy we're working on pulling together a Red Markets pick-up-and-play convention packet. We can leave ideas we know we need to happen up on the board and folks can grab tasks as they have time. But that's not really relevant when it's just me on a project.

I used labels? It's nice to have color markers for quick visual reference whether a task is organizational or writing or editing. I guess that could be good if I have a variety of tasks and have more energy for dealing with one over the others that day. But that's not really how I work on projects... I tend to do all the organizational work. Then build a skeleton of scenes based off the outline I built (in the previous step). Then do the writing. Then the editing. Then... Point! Point being that I work more iteratively and less with multiple types of tasks to do.

The checklist feature in Trello matches up with the subtasks feature of Wunderlist. Neither lets me assign a due date to the checklist item/subtask, so there's no gain in features there (that is something I like to have). I suppose I could accomplish that by converting each checklist item to a card (Trello has a button for that) and assigning a due date to the card. Which defeats the purpose of using a checklist in the first place?

Comments on a card seem more useful when multiple folks are on the project, otherwise I might as well just call them notes to myself.

I think the real thing Trello provides that Wunderlist does is visual organization. Moving cards around on a board between lists is dang useful for some folks, just not my thing. I am primarily a visual organizer, but visual in that I want to see the task written down, not that I want a cork board of index cards I can move around to organize my thoughts.

Don't get me wrong, Trello is a good product — heck, writing this post reminded me to suggest using it to the Technical Difficulties crew. I just don't find it useful for how I think about my non-collaborative project. If you're one of the folks who likes the cork board of index cards of ideas or more visual organization than a to-do list or stuff like that, I'd recommend Trello. It's really robust, with good features, that's free for personal use. I'll just be sticking to Wunderlist for solo writing projects and expanding into Trello for collaborative projects, of all varieties. Gods help me if/when Partner and I need to go house hunting...

Cutting back on projects

I've got too many ‘projects’/things going on. Most aren't visible through this blog (I think) and that's actually part of the problem. They're support things, not writing things which is, at least supposedly, my main creative area.

Things I am currently trying to keep moving forward (in no particular order), by type:
Family stuff:

  1. Family time
  2. Organizing the apartment
  3. Household chores
  4. Reading
  5. Gym

The first one is non-negotiable for I hope obvious reasons. Organizing the new apartment (or as Partner likes to call it: ‘nesting’) should eventually be a completed project and absolutely needs to happen for both of us to feel comfortable and happy in our space. Because if we’re not happy, we won’t recharge from coming home and definitely won’t be able to work. So there would go any of my other projects. Chores / adulting have to happen to continue being able to function/feed ourselves, so that has to happen too. Personally I dislike the gym (I'm bored there) but I need to for health reasons (job I sit at all day) so I take a book and read while I cycle for 30 minutes. Just have to start the habit up again in the new apartment building’s gym.

Social stuff

  1. Group chat
  2. RPPR & D&U forums
  3. Blog posting
  4. Tumblr
  5. Scribophile groups
  6. GoodReads updating
  7. GoodReads groups

The group chat for fans of RPPR coordinating going to meals together at GenCon 2015 sort of… metastasized into a general chat hangout. It's turned into my primary non-family social outlet and what I'm distracted by at work (trust me, if it wasn't this, there’d be something else). I like talking to these folks, so not giving this up. Especially since I think it fits into down moments I wouldn't be doing other things. I like checking in once a day with the forums for my two favorite podcasts, so keeping that (even if I do think I should post more and lurk less). Keeping my commitment to blog twice a week gets me to write, even if it’s a different type of writing than my main goal (fiction), so that’s staying. Also, you know, this post probably wouldn’t be going up if I was going to cut out the blogging. So that kind of speaks for itself. Tumblr might be my biggest time sink buuuuut I kinda want to keep doing it. A lot. I’ve kept up with news and general internet chicanery through RSS feeds for years, but thinking about sharing content through my Tumblr blog gets me to look at / read through more, which I think is good for my engagement with the world…

I don’t currently have anything going through critique on Scribophile, nor time soon to put in a round of critique through the Fast Critters’ group on Scribophile, nor really time to keep up with the forums… Forums are difficult/hard for how I think about interacting. I don’t have enough time or attention span to respond to them in real time and then when I get back to them, I generally feel overwhelmed by all the discussions that happened. So it’s hard to catch up to see if I have anything to say. RPPR and The Drunk & The Ugly’s forums seem to be my exception to that general pattern though. Any rate, same problem with GoodReads’ groups. So I’m going to set those two aside for now, see if I miss the interaction or feel differently in a few months. I do plan to keep with by fellow bloggers’ group on Scribophile though. Too much good writing to drop that. As for keeping my ‘stuff’ on GoodReads up to date, I’m going to stop feeling like I have to do that and see if I just want to update what I’m reading or rate things once I finish a book. It’s there. I know it’s there. We’ll see what happens with it.

Hobbies & Writing

  1. Red Markets Editing
  2. Red Markets Convention packet
  3. GMing @ WashingCon
  4. Technical Difficulties
  5. Dangers of Fraternization
  6. The Night Clerk
  7. General Backlog of writing ideas

I get paid for editing Red Markets, that’s not going anywhere. I’ve got this thing about following through on my word, you see.

I think the convention packet for Red Markets is where most of my creative energy is going right now. See, this guy in one of the social media groups for Red Markets said ‘wouldn’t it be great if someone put together a packet for GM’s to be able to teach the game to new players at a convention? Anyone interested in working on that with me?’ Well, both Partner and I said ‘yes’ so we’ve been working with this guy Tom to write that up and refine it. Or pare down the available rules to a quick-and-dirty guide. Six of one… We tried out what we had at GenCon and now are working to revise it based on feedback in time for WashingCon. Where we’ll solicit another round of feedback on improvements. End result eventually, hopefully being that we have a well put together tool for GMs, both new and experienced, to run an enjoyable introductory game of Red Markets for both new and experienced players. Because we want to evangelize the system. But yeah. Set project. Definable goals. Actual project management  tools in use (that reminds me, I should try using Trello for one of my other projects and write up a review for y’all next Monday…) I’m not pulling back on my involvement in this project. As for GMing at WashingCon, 1) I’ve said I’m going to, so I need to, 2) I think my game at WashingCon is already full of people (meep!...), and 3) it’s in three weeks and then it’ll be done. It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s all fine.

Technical Difficulties is usually one of my two main creative energy outlets (the other being writing), it’s just that summer made our schedule go a bit wonky. But I remember the difference in my mood when I picked up gaming again. It's necessary for my mental health and happiness. It's why I try to talk Partner into playing with the TD group as often as I can – I like it, I want to spend time with Partner, and I want to share.

The rest just has to go on the back-burner until editing on Red Markets is done. Or I’ve cleared off enough of the time-bound projects to free up some time for them. Dangers next, then Night Clerk, then pull something out of the backlog into it’s own project. Like in 2 years. Man, I hope it doesn’t take me that long to work through Night Clerk…

The final list of stuff I’m going to continue pushing forward:

  1. Family time
  2. Organizing the apartment
  3. Household chores
  4. Reading
  5. Gym
  6. Group chat
  7. RPPR & D&U forums
  8. Blog posting
  9. Tumblr
  10. Red markets editing
  11. Red Markets convention packet
  12. GMing @ WashingCon
  13. Technical Difficulties

I can handle 13 things. I think.

Keeping track of story ideas

I've mentioned my poor memory skills on the blog before. Plus, I really prefer to work on one writing project from beginning (outlining) to end (final draft/POD file creation, depending on the project). So, no surprise, I have a method for keeping track of the random story ideas I have while at work.

First there's the slim moleskin notebook I carry in my bag. It's not just story ideas in there though, I take notes during writer's panels at conventions, on using the print-on-demand machine at my local library, while listening to the Writing Excuses podcast, interesting things from non-writing podcasts, good quotes from actual play gaming podcasts (I listen to a lot of podcasts at work okay?), and have, on occasion, hand written a scene from a current project (I was really frustrated with work that day). Every few months, I try to read through the whole notebook again, to refresh my memory.

More recently, I created a new list in my to-do app on my phone (I use Wunderlist), titled 'Story Ideas'. I initially populated it by going through that notebook and adding an item for everything I'd labeled 'story idea', thinking it'd be good to have it all centralized. The full list currently sits at 15 items long, one of which is the collection of writing prompts I think I should free-write off of one of these days. One of those items is definitely a novel, conceived as such from the start and so firmly in my mind that I noted it with one word (the main character's nickname, actually). The rest are between two or three words, with notes if necessary. But I think most of them will be short stories, which surprises the heck out of me – I thought my natural writing length was novellas. Up until I started writing short stories off the latest RPG campaign I'm playing.

So dear readers, what should I write next?