The Idea Box


Dancing with my latest manuscript issue has reminded me of a cure for half-finished manuscripts I discovered not too long ago. Well, not a cure, but something to help limit the available excuses not to finish.

I don’t get ideas every single day of the week, but when I do, I’m passionate about them. Every waking thought is filled with an electrical storm of visions, dialog, and full scenes cascading through my head. If I listen to it, what ever piece I’m working on is left on the road side, incomplete, probably forever.

The problem with this method of writing is that nothing ever gets done. The storm rolls by, another one rolls in, and there I am with an endless succession of half finished manuscripts.

Of course, I’m not a miraculous fountain of ideas. For every idea storm I have, I also have at least one idea drought. I wonder if I’ll ever have a creative thought again. I don’t make any progress on the story I’m on because I don’t have ideas for it, or if I’ve finished the manuscript I have nothing new to work on. Those times are scary for an aspiring author.

The first year I started trying to get published, I realized that wasn’t going to work. Publishers want complete manuscripts after all. I can’t listen to the siren song every time it calls, and what happens if I hit a draught with a deadline coming up?

My solution came in the form of a folder on my computer. When ever I get an idea for a story, I open up a new document and fill the pages with everything that will immediately flow out of my fingers. Names, characters, dialog, scenes, anything. I keep going with everything that will come out of me in one sitting. Then I save it into the folder, and go back to my WIP. I don’t pick at it, organize it, or extend it past the easy stuff. If it won’t come out in the first literary burp, it doesn’t need to.

When I’m done with my WIP, I open the folder and look around for something interesting. With this system, my manuscripts get done and I don’t have any down time.

I also put scenes I have to ax but totally love in the idea box. After all, it might be out of character for Susie to be crying under a tree, but what about moody Angelica? Mm? I never delete anything anymore. It’s all in my idea box. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pondered a spot in a story I just can’t fill, only to find the perfect answer somewhere in this folder.

If you don’t have an idea box on your computer, I strongly suggest you make a folder now. It can save you a lot of time!


It’s not destiny, dang it!


I swear I do have control over my  characters. I’m the author, I decide their every motion. I can force them to produce llama noises if that’s what I want them to do. Unfortunately, what I want is for them to stay true to themselves, and my inner-critic tells me that my characters are not prone to producing llama noises when staying true to themselves.

As everyone knows, the past few days I’ve been stuck on chapter five. There has been no movement forward. None. Zip. Zero. (I could get the thesaurus out for more words but I think you get the idea.) I’ve even been fantasizing about other stories, and writing out a list of theme music for my next novel. My house has never looked cleaner. What does that tell you?

Well I finally figured out why I couldn’t move forward. According to my outline, mom’s not supposed to walk her through the woods. According to Mom however, there is no way her little baby girl is going outside without protection until she’s sure it’s safe.

We have a deadlock. I can’t find a way to write Mom into the scene, and Mom isn’t leaving. Sorry.


Unless of course, something far more sinister is coming in the back door, and she needs to hold the sinister creature off while Elizabeth makes a dash for it. ^^

Now you see why I have this blog. I can’t talk it out with a Writing Buddy, so I talk it out with my readers, because I know awesome people like Carol are out there listening. As I talk, I get ideas, and with the ideas, solutions.

Thank you, all. I know you haven’t even replied yet, but you’re already so helpful. Now, onward!