Writers rely on their imagination and memory to develop their stories. How do they accomplish that? Some can write a short story or novel without relying on notes. They’re the lucky ones. If you are like me or most writers, you use a notebook to record details that interest you the most.
These details can include someone a writer knows; a childhood memory; a thought; a conversation; an interesting statistic, fact, or quote. They can also be used for character profiles, plot outlines, and/or research on a place, hobby, occupation the writer does not already know about-all to help them store information for a story until they are ready to begin it.
These notebooks are basically useful tools that makes writing easier (a.k.a. the reason I call it my best friend). So, what’s worth recording? There is no right or wrong answer. What people find intriguing is so subjective; that is why no writer will have the same notes. And, there’s no rule on how long a note or detail should be.
I’d like to make a suggestion though. Select strange details. Don’t go for the obvious ones. Even though I call my notebook Book of Observations, my details don’t only come from what I see or hear. It is possible to invent some details as well.
Here are some random notes that I’ve recorded in my Book of Observations:
- “BARROW, ALASKA: longest day starts May 10 & continues for 3 months. Longest night starts Nov. 18 & continues for 2 months. W/ approximately 4,500 residents, area is probably harshest polar location in Alaska. Ocean is usually ice free from mid-June thru Oct. allowing cargo bargo to pass thru Barrow. Polar Bears are fairly common during May & June. They hunt seals.”
- “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
- “I never exaggerate. I just remember big.”
- ” ‘I’m not sad. People are meant to grow old and be alone.’ Rudy revealed. He said he hated saying good-bye to people and this was the reason why.”
- “After Uncle George’s funeral, me and my cousins Devin, Markita, El rode to his grave site in Martinsburg. We had to drive through Shepherdstown. Past the light near Morgan Grove’s Park, there is a bike trail. When we rode past, we all noticed a dead deer lying on the bike trail. Devin’s the driver, and he yells, ‘Dang! A bike killed a deer!’ In his delivery alone, we all laughed. One moment of silliness during our tragic moment.”
My notebook is small enough to fit in my purse; I never know when I may need it. What works for me won’t work for everyone. If you decide to create one, you don’t have to necessarily carry it around. You can remember what you found interesting during the day or night then write in your notebook when you get home.