Thursday, August 1, 2013

Keep Your Writing On Track by Making Lists

How are you doing with your writing this summer? There are so many wonderful distractions--ice cream, amusement parks, gardening, more ice cream, visiting friends, the beach, and the list goes on and on.

Over at MiG Writers, this week my writing buddies and I are offering some tips on how to keep your writing on track in How to Keep Your Writing Focus: Tips from Six Middle Grade and YA Writers.

But I have another tip for staying on track with writing that I'll share here on my blog: making lists.

I always make lists of the things I plan to do in my non-writing life (e.g., the chores I want or need to get done), but it's totally helpful to make lists related to writing as well.

Examples of some writing lists:

- steps my character needs to accomplish to reach a goal

- ways that my villain could stop my main character for reaching the goal

- a list of potential setting locations for scenes in my story

- a list of cupcake flavours (for research purposes, of course)

- a list of what I need to accomplish in a scene or chapter

I often find that creating a list kicks my brain into gear and gives me ideas for new scenes and story events, or even helps me find places where I can double up and put two story events into one setting.

Lists are also really helpful when I'm trying to brainstorm details about my characters to give them a life that extends beyond the book. I generate ideas that I don't need to discuss in detail in the story, but can mention briefly. Here's a peek at a couple of the lists I used to brainstorm ideas for my current revision:

Do you write lists when you're writing a story? What kinds of lists do you make?


  1. I use lists too! My notebook is full of scribbles, but without my lists, I forget the great ideas I have while drafting and revising.

  2. Great post! I made sticky note lists everywhere!

  3. Two specific lists I make:

    Lists of words to be pieced into a title.

    Lists of snatches of dialogue for each character.


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