The Program That Will Revolutionize Your Writing Life

I’ve been late in updating my blog this week because I just now finished creating the most important writing tool in my future career. It took hours and hours of work, felt a little boring at times, and will probably give me permanent eyestrain… but it was all worth it. Now I can never complain about not having an idea ever again.

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The concept is simple: I built an idea database.

Have you ever used Microsoft Access, or any other program that lets you create tables out of a variety of sources? An idea database works like that. Instead of searching for “Debt>$500” and receiving a list of client names, however, you can use the idea database to input something like “Shakespeare” and receive all your creative musings on the Bard in one table. You can even specify it further, to find all character ideas based on Shakespeare, or any horror stories involving Shakespeare, or whatever else you dream of. I made my storage file to cater to my own needs, but you can design yours however you want.

I created my idea database in Apache Open Office, which is free to download and is safe for your computer. From there, I created a database with 8 columns: ID, Idea, Genre, Type, Tag 1, Tag 2, Tag 3, and Used In. Here’s where all the idea notecards I had written over the years came in handy. For each flashcard, I entered in as many of the categories as I could. It’s hard work, but at least now I know what data-entry’s like.

For some examples, let’s look at that wild story synopsis I posted yesterday night. Say I like the idea of a God of Hope being a crippled idiot. My entry into the database might look like this:

 

 

ID Idea Genre Type Tag 1 Tag 2 Tag 3 Used In
64201
The Turtle God of Hope is a crippled idiot
Fantasy
Character
mythology
stupid
nature
Seventh Sanctum Story

 

Note the ID number: that’s more useful than it seems. The tags exist for the benefit of searching. Unless you want a billion different tags, you’re going to have to oversimplify some concepts— hence why “nature” can include plants, animals, the environment, and much more whenever I look the word up. I even created an Excel document just to keep track of all the categories my ideas fall under. Again, you should design the idea database to your own satisfaction.

But talk is simple; let’s see it in action! Going back to the Seventh Sanctum Story, I glossed over the misfortunes that made Shawn “The Cursed” the hateful genius that he is. Let’s query for “tragedy” under the “Science Fiction” and “Fantasy” categories and see what comes up.

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This search is a bit narrower than I’m used to for such stories. Shawn is a man of science, so let’s get rid of the “Fantasy” search. And instead of “tragedy,” let’s search for “stupid”… it’s what he’s surrounded by, after all.

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Looking at these ideas gave me a new insight. We only have Shawn’s word that his life is one of tragedy. Perhaps, to him, the people of ©Happyland complimenting his smarts by calling him “a salt cookie” is a tragedy all of its own! I now have a detail that fleshes out both the villain and the world he lives in… a detail that I thought up over five years ago.

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No peeking!

Here’s where ID numbers help. If I want to find the original entry and write in the Idea Column that I’ve already used this concept (even though, as a writer, you really don’t have to), I just look up the idea on the original table, which is organized by number.

I can’t wait to see how this program works out for everyone! Tell me if you try it, and if it improved your writing life as much it improved mine!

 

P.S. Here’s my Tag Listing Sheet: database-keyword-guide

 

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