Every writer has “that” folder on his/her computer. It’s the folder where bad stories and bad story ideas go to die. It’s the story graveyard. It’s where we stuff those stories in hope that one day we’ll be better writers and come into those wizard-gifts to weave those bad ideas into bestsellers – I’ve got one of those folders, too. It’s generally labeled “crap,” or some conjugation of the word, like “crap-o-rama.”
But, let’s be honest; those stories aren’t going anywhere. The graveyard is a final resting place, and as fiction has taught us, nothing good comes back from the dead. As my writing skills grow and expand, I will craft new stories with better roots and characters with dimension.
Ideas, on the other hand…
I throw ideas into that folder, such as ideas for characters with no plot or motivation, or settings with no characters or story, or a plot with no characters; those might come in handy. For example, I’ve taken a useless piece about pirates and mermaids that had been sitting in that folder for a good several years now, and added it into the framework for another story set in my steampunk/pirate world (Caroline Eversole and the Gilded Gauntlet). That plotless, characterless world just got plugged into something bigger.
A writer once said that good ideas will stay with you; bad ideas go away. So, in his advice, you shouldn’t write down every idea that comes to you. The good ideas sizzle and nestle themselves into your system. The ideas that don’t leave can haunt you until you write them, until you NEED to write them.
Writers of yesterday had shoe boxes of notes and folded pages. Writers of today have electronic folders to keep their garbage organized.
Where do you keep your odd notes? A drawer? A folder? A shoe box? A hat box? (If so, please add where you got the hat box.) Or, are you a bit like me and have them everywhere? Mine litter my brain, a drawer, my cork-board, and my computer’s death folder.