Side Notes

Side Notes

Side Notes

I’ve been gone for a bit, sorry about that. There was a reason and I do have some news I think is fantastic. I have finished my newest book and have begun the primary revision. I’m very excited about this story and can’t wait to share some information.  I’ll be composing a tentative query letter for it soon and I’ll post about that process as I’ve done a whole bunch more research on the subject.

For me, the writing process for this story became very involved. My writing time is limited (Full-time job + a family + summer = busy me) so when it came to writing I was deeply engrossed in the new story.

While I write, I often have thoughts or ideas. Whether they are yet to come or they are things to add or even things to change. I try not to go back while I’m in ‘writing’ mode and change things. For one, it throws off my groove and for two; I might change my mind before the story is done.

So, what do I do about the little or big ideas that pop into my brain? I make notes. I keep a pad of paper at my desk at all times. The more detail the better, I write down the idea and my reasoning. There is nothing worse than going back to see “Make the tablet a pen and pad of paper.”  If I forget why or the significance I could make mistakes in the change or lose the great idea because of lack of explanation or supportive information.

Here are some things I might jot down

  • A clever line or two of dialogue

  • A foreshadow for something ie. “Go back and foreshadow Belfast knowing about Lex”

  • Change in character name, behavior, quirk or appearance

  • A reminder to go back and add a quirk to a character

  • Location change idea

  • Add a character in

  • Notes to remind me to check whether or time of year ie. when is sunset in July or when do daisies bloom.

  • Add an interaction or moment in

(I just looked at my actual notes for examples)

Anything that is added after the fact, a quirk, character or moment are things that come to mind because of a new idea. I’ll be writing along and a clever scenario pops into mind. However, to make it work I’d have to change a conversation. I write a detailed note and either go back when I’m done writing or at least done writing the new scene.

Nothing in my story is set in stone until I’m certain I’m done with it. I add stuff all the time, just as long as it’s relevant to the story or scenario.

A word of caution, anything added needs to fit. Magically appearing or disappearing objects or people are frustrating, confusing and a clear indication of a novice or careless writer. If I change something, I go through with a fine-tooth comb to make sure all references or moments surrounding the change make sense.

My notes can get messy; sometimes I’ll make a spreadsheet or word document to keep track of the more important ones. Alternatively, I’ll transfer the handwritten notes to a word file so I can actually read them. (Yes, I have chicken scratch handwriting)

This pad of paper I use for side notes is often written on just after a shower or just before I fall asleep. It’s not the best time to have inspiration strike, but I’ve written many notes to the light of my wireless mouse so I don’t wake anybody by turning a light on.

My advice about Side Notes

Whether it’s a novel, poem, blog post or song, keep a pad of paper handy for when inspiration strikes. I recommend making notes or explanations on the notes so they don’t get forgotten or misunderstood later.


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15 thoughts on “Side Notes

  1. It’s actually a brilliant idea. I find this idea invaluable when it comes to character development, or regarding a pet. I had to go back and edit the cat in Blindsided. I’d written she had one, then when chaos hit, forgot what happened to the cat throughout. Several chapters along, I realized, I’d forgotten to mention the cat and since he was important to the character, it had to be revised because she wouldn’t continue on without him. Or he wasn’t that valuable at all and what does that say about her, easy come easy go? Not! If you have a pet, they become part of the family. I felt silly when I realized what I’d done, but it was an easy fix in the end. A few lines of dialogue here and there so the reader knows she’s not a scatterbrain and the pet mattered, didn’t just drop off the face of the earth. PS Great your back and might I say, hopefully you’ve had a wonderful time. The new book has you excited and thrilled, so I’m thinking it might be better than the last??? All the ideas, thoughts, are fresh in your mind so it flowed easier I’m betting. Kudos!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good points as usual, especially on foreshadowing and names! I am reading a serial right now where I think one of the secondary characters changed names midscene! I was so confused wondering where Benita had gone and when Brinda got there? Also in that scene the main character is wearing a black dress and in a previous scene had a black suit on then in a later episode says she doesn’t wear black. Little things that are easy to miss as a writer but to the reader can be so jarring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks.

      Continuity is a huge issue for a lot of writers. It’s why I have many proofread my work and I read and read it and make notes. Notes are helpful because sometimes as the writer I can glaze over and not notice. I’ve read a lot of work with so much wrong it made me wonder if I was reading the rough draft! Yikes.


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