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Using A Notebook To Store Ideas For Novel Writing, by Paul Volponi

Rooftop by Paul Volponi

I’ve done a lot of work as a sports writer covering thoroughbred horse racing. The great race caller Tom Durkin, who has to paint a picture using the spoken word, often in two minutes or less, keeps a notebook of words and phrases he has either used or is interested in one day using. That inspired me to keep a writer’s notebook as a writer of teen novels. It has been a great help to me. What’s recorded on the pages of my writer’s notebook? Well, almost everything. I have it broken up into sections – potential names for characters, titles for books, phrases or expressions that have made an impact on me, interesting situations I have encountered, plot-lines for books, and of course, miscellaneous trivia to cover a myriad of other things. The notebook helps me to store current thoughts for future use, and stops me from having several hundred scraps of paper floating around my work space. Naturally, this doesn’t have to be a physical book. It could also exist electronically on your computer. But personally, I really do enjoy holding a notebook and thumbing through the pages. Every two weeks or so, I look through it from front to back.

Here’s a glimpse at some of its pages.

Names – Cortez – as a possible first name. The Muscle Hamster – an actual nickname for a short and strong NFL player. Pogo, cool name for someone who shifts positions. Lashley – last name of a pro wrestler, good ring to it, like the imagery. Rosario – good feeling for me, has a feeling of trustworthiness to it, like Kent from King Lear.

Titles – Stop and Frisk – a NYC police procedure. Shadow Tag – an alternative to playing real tag, stepping on a shadow instead of touching. Personal Foul – sports title with some imagery.

Situations – A woman puts her cigarette out on the side of a church and then crosses herself as she passes the church’s front door (actually saw this happen). Boy wearing a Spiderman hat on a city bus has a real fly sitting in the fake web on the hat. Fly sat there for a while. Wanted to swat it to see if it was real or fake (actually saw this as well). A school short of money sells ads at the bottom of its test papers – a pizza ad on a math test (real newspaper article).

I’ll pass on sharing my possible future plot-lines with you. But I think you get the idea about keeping a writer’s notebook and how helpful it can be. I’ve used it to develop the real titles of mine such as Black and White and Rikers High. It gave me character’s names such as Brick (Rikers High) and Noah (Response). And situations like the vending machine break-in used in Hurricane Song. I hope that as a writer you can make good use of a notebook as well.


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Black and WhiteRikers HighHurricane SongRooftop     Tarzan: The Greystoke LegacyBlack Storm Comin'Shock Point

Writing Teen Novels

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