I have way more ideas for stories and characters than I can use at any one time. I used to jot them down on paper or sticky notes. I’d clip articles out of newspapers and magazines, so I had folders of ideas. But it became unruly quickly. Here’s how I keep it all organized and usable.
Electronic Links and Pictures: If it’s a picture, web page, or blog post, I have Pinterest boards to organize ideas. For example, I was researching vintage trailers and tiny houses for a WIP, so I built a Pinterest boards to keep my information in one place.
Single Spreadsheet: I finally created a single spreadsheet for all of the hundreds of sticky notes that were cluttering up my life. I created a column to tag each idea (e.g. character name, dialogue sample, story idea, etc.). That allows me to sort by the category when I’m looking for something specific. I also add notes if I’ve used the idea. I may still jot things on sticky notes or paper, but they now get transferred to the spreadsheet.
Web Favorites: If you mark favorites in your browser for websites, you may want to export it from time to time to ensure that you have a backup in case of a crash or device failure. (In Internet Explorer, locate your “Add to Favorites” button. Click the down arrow and select Import and Export. Follow the screens to export your favorites to a file.)
Character and Place Name Table: I also build a Word table for each series I write. Each book gets a column. I put basic information about each character and location. I track which books these appear in. When I’m done, I sort my list alphabetically, so I can make sure that I’m not reusing names or naming characters with similar names. This helps me keep the character details consistent in each book.
What other ideas would you add?