Authorship, Publishing, Books and More

Hi Susan-Transforming Stories From Ideas

Susan Palmquist


Time for another Hi Susan and this one was asked by Kimberley…

I have a ton of ideas rattling around in my head. First of all, how do I make sure I don’t forget any gems? Second question, how do I determine if one’s good enough to become a story?

I loved these questions because once again, it’s something all writers face.

My response to the first one is get a notebook or even make a file folder on your computer and as ideas come to you, write them down. I still have my notebook from many years ago. The first couple fell to pieces and I had to transfer my notes to new ones but there are some nuggets (as I call them), still in note form from the early 90s. There’s one I got from reading an ad some company had taken out in the local TV Guide. As soon as I read it I knew I had to cut it out and pasted into the book. I haven’t written a story based on it yet, but who knows, that might be my Swan Song.

Even if it’s snippets of dialogue, write it down. I’ve used some for characters while others I’ve based stories around what I can hear characters saying… which leads me into the second question.

You’ll know which ideas should be turned into stories because when you look at them they sort of talk to you. I know that sounds strange and maybe even a bit out there but it’s how ideas have worked for me.

I imagine a character living the plot I’ve made notes about. There have been articles I’ve cut out and then thought they’d make the perfect plot because they’re similar to something I’d been thinking about tackling.

It’s almost like you look through your notes and something jumps out and says, hey, it’s my turn now, this is what you should be writing next.

Go with your instinct and your heart and you can never go wrong.

I should add that even if you’re a non-fiction writer, keeping an idea book is essential for you too. I used a second one for ideas for stories I wanted to pitch to editors. When I had my two columns, I even kept one for ideas I wanted to focus on and share with my readers.


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