1. Vapor
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    Vapor Member

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    Making "notes"

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Vapor, Jun 5, 2009.

    I was reading about the writing process of my favorite author (Dostoevsky!), and apparently he would take extensive notes of his observations and ideas. To those of you who do this, what do your notes usually consist of? I tried making random jottings of people I ran in to for example but so far I don't think I've created anything useful. If you have other writing wisdom to share too it would be appreciated. I've done lots of reading my whole life but am just starting to try my hand at writing.
     
  2. sophie.
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    sophie. Contributing Member

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    I make notes sometimes - they're really random though, just observations. People watching :)
     
  3. afinemess
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    afinemess Active Member

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    Journaling from your characters perspective is very helpful. Also, I will hand write a scene and few days later type it. There is always a vast difference, but it makes it easier to get detailed the second time. I scribble, put down rough ideas for a plot line, and even have drawn the main characters house. I had such a clear vision of what I wanted it to look like, I just drew it out. I think jotting down, even with no clear plan really helps clear the mind and give you focus. After writing out what I call "plot points" (which I havent really learned I just figured making a list of how I want the story to go in order would be helpful) I have a clear and driect view of exactly what I need to write and where it needs to go. This is helpful to me, since I write out of order. I can put the number of the point in front of what I'm writing and then go place it in order when I'm done.


    OR maybe I'm just crazy and the only one this works for. haha
     
  4. sophie.
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    sophie. Contributing Member

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    I write in a random order too..but then I plan in a random order too...
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I mostly only take notes on research items - facts, statistics, calculations. I never have any problems remembering storyline ideas or character attributes, and I change things as I go along. Any notes on those would quickly become obsolete.
     
  6. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    My notes are longer than the story I'm writing. But they're not about my characters or plot. I had to do a lot of research to get the historical accuracy I wanted, and I don't mean buying books from the library and looking things up on Wikipedia, either.

    I was dealing with information from a culture that has largely been destroyed on purpose. I had to find a lot of people across the world who could help me - there are a hundred and ten million ethnic Gaels in the world, and odds are what I wanted to find out was no longer known in Scotland or Ireland, but was in America, Canada, or Australia.

    I noted the oral tales I was told, and checked them for anything that was similar with another oral tale, and then accepted that as historical fact. Then I wrote how I could use that in my story.

    So I have a lot of notes. I have the greater part of medieval Gaelic history written across over a thousand pages.
     
  7. Carbon
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    Carbon Member

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    I'm writing a book set in the past (WWII to be exact). I don't know if I'd go as far a GG did, but notes are important. It's more history than anything.
     
  8. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I use notes to help me define chracters and to keep track of ideas that I have but am too busy to work on. I have a small note book with dozens of story ideas and I go back and add a little more detail about the world sometimes.

    It helps since there is soo much time inbetween chances for me to visit a world as a writer because of my schedule I can see the world and imagine a history for it and the things that go on there.

    When I am writing I also keep notes about what has happened before in the story so that I know where I am picking up at a few days later.
     
  9. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I'm in the same boat as Cogito on this one (amazing, isn't it?). I rarely make notes. Honestly, stories change and ferment in my head so quickly that notes are frequently obsolete almost before I finish writing them out. Even my "final ideas," ideas that I'm absolutely certain are what I want the story to consist of, may be subject to rapid change if they don't work out the first time or two.

    Plus, whenever I do make too many notes, I start getting overexcited and want to skip right to the "good stuff." That never works out well for me.
     
  10. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    I take notes on certain facts and other supporting things for the story. If I took notes of ideas, I'd have a mountain of them. Although I still rarely take notes. I only write things I can't remember down.
     
  11. lovely
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    lovely Member

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    I take a lot of notes. I do a lot of research for everything that I write, and it's just easier to compile notes than have tons of sources on hand. I also take notes about what my characters are like and rough outlines of where I need to go with my works. Probably the most frequent notes I make are ones about problems that I need to figure out. I typically write memos to myself such as "Figure out what this character needs to do in this situation. It cannot be this, because of this... etc."

    I also take notes of things that inspire me. If I see or here a phrase or a couple of words that I find particularly interesting I jot them down and plan to come back to them for a future story or poem. It's really about what works the best for you, though.
     
  12. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I probably don't take enough notes. I keep a lot of things in my head, observations, ideas, plots, you name it I stored it in a file in my head.

    The problem I have, is the older I get the harder it is to find these files since my office management skills seem to be lacking a little in my head.

    So I have to make little notes. Sometimes I keep a blank open doc on my laptop while I am writing, to jot down character details (usually ages, full names, married to, children, who might play them if it were a movie (an actor or actress inspiration) their imaginary address, and any plot lines that may develop while I am writing it.

    I don't write a lot down, I tend to work on the story in my head while I am doing the mundane routine of everyday Mom's life. I'll crack a problem I'm trying to work out while doing dishes and have to run to the computer to put it on paper. Sometimes I just have time to jot a sentence or two down, but I'll use my blank doc for that. Sometimes it's an amazing piece of dialog my character's were having in my head...yes I know I'm crazy...and I'll have to write it down, but I'll be in line at the grocery store. I must look like a lunatic pulling my note pad out and writing like a mad woman while waiting. I keep a note pad in the car, one in my purse, and one in the house that is only mine. Sometimes what I write is usable, sometimes not.

    Do you have to have detailed notes? It really depends on your style of learning and thinking. Some people need lots of notes, while other's work with just a page or two of scribbles.

    I do observe people a lot, but most of that is just kept in my head.
     
  13. Vapor
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    Vapor Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone. I shall be experimenting with some of your ideas.
     
  14. SilverRam
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    SilverRam Member

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    Does conceptual sketches/paintings count? That is all I usually do, everything about the characters/plot/scenes is in my head. If a thought hits quickly I may jot it down at the moment, but the next day those are sadly lost.
     
  15. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    I keep a notebook close to hand wherever I go. I'm not one for writing long diatribes or complex plotpoints, preferring instead to jot a brief note when it comes to me which I can refer back to later on. It means I'm never in a position where I can't remember something 'brilliant' that popped into my head in the middle of shopping, or even socialising. Cuts out that horrible torment of 'knowing' I was onto something good, but which got lost in the murk of 'Thoughtsville'.
     

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