Thursday, October 16, 2014

Using a Voice Recorder to Plan a Story

One of the greatest challenges that I face as a first-time novelist who is more familiar with the short story form is that it is difficult to break down the plot into each individual moving part. From the get-go I mapped out the novel and broke it down to a chapter-level, and was confident that I would then be able to easily write the story and make the scenes fit the chapters as I went. I was wrong.

What I didn't take into account was the fact that my plot ideas were constantly changing as time went on and as I began to explore each individual character and scene. The outline for my novel that exists in my head is now barely similar at all to what I originally wrote down.

With so much having changed, it can be very difficult to be able to see what should happen next. Imagine being in the middle of a American city with a river running through it, but only one half of the bridge is there, the other half of the city is in Europe, and there's a really low-hanging thick fog everywhere. Now try to cross into Europe from America.

One tool that has recently become very useful for crossing this impossible bridge is a voice recorder. I had purchased a very inexpensive one while in college to aid with my brief attempt at being a journalist for the school paper (which, it turned out, I was terrible at), and had then attempted to re-purpose the device for recording meetings during my internship. Since it seems that formal meetings are very scarce at my new place of employment, I frequently enjoy taking solo walks down a trail that runs right by my office, and I'd seen voice recorders occasionally used in the movies for a character to dictate their thoughts for reference later, I decided to try recording my thoughts regarding my stories as I walked.
talking into a voice recorder
Recording myself talking into a little electronic device has greatly helped me to plan and understand my stories. Talking while I walk keeps my mind focused on the topic at hand more than just trying to think about that topic and I can go back and listen to any ideas including how exactly I arrived to them. Rather than just recording tidbits of ideas when they come to me, I force myself to start talking about a particular problem I've encountered until I eventually talk myself out of it. This process has already resulted in brand new ideas that I'm excited to write as well as a clearer vision overall for where my stories are headed.

It may seem and feel odd, but I highly suggest anyone else to try this method for writing or any part of their life that might require some extra thought power.

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