#WriteTip Idea Boards!

Frankie Av

Over the past few months I’ve told you about my writing routine. From my writing tools to playlists, bubble and flow charts to character boards. But what do I do with them once I have them ready?

Well, I make an idea board.

Now, I know many authors just write and find things such as I do merely a waste of time or an added unnecessary chore. I can almost hear them shouting “Oh, for crying out loud. Just get on with it!!” But, when you have a memory as bad as mine, combined with the attention span of a toddler, idea boards come in very handy.

While many authors are able to sit and write a book without the need for such a thing, I personally find an idea board invaluable. Writing is not my full-time occupation, and I have a lot of responsibilities in my life–even more so outwith my working hours. You don’t need to know what they are, suffice to say my time is split tenfold in all directions every day. It isn’t easy for me to find hours to sit and write. Therefore, since I often have long periods between writing, I need something to remind me what my goal is and something which can instantly get me back into writing. Yes, I know many authors are not full-time writers, and we all have our responsibilities, but-as with everything in life- we all do things differently. We all have our peculiarities, our rituals and routines. This is part of mine.

A simple cork-board with everything pinned to it helps me when I find my mind wandering or concentration wavering. It helps me when I have forgotten things or have strayed from the original story idea. My idea boards keep everything for my story in one easily accessible place. Once I have the outline complete and any ideas typed up or written down tidily and legibly, I pin them all to my board.  I often use small index cards to highlight main points and pin them to the board. I print out my flow charts and character sheets (printed on draft/economy mode and only once they are ready. I try not to waste paper and ink!) I also pin up my playlist details, chapter list, any photos or items which help me with the story. I only laminate very important pieces as I have accidentally ruined them in the past! I consult my idea board when writing to stay on track and reach targets I’ve set. It helps me remember exactly where I’m going with the story and reminds me of all the important plot points and twists.

I’ve already started the idea board for Emergence, but I need a new cork-board. My old one was damaged in the recent spring clean! No need to worry about spoilers in the photograph, I doubt you could read the print!

It isn’t only just another tool to help me in my writing. I suppose the creation of an idea board is also a sort of ritual to me. It’s similar to how some professional athletes carry out repetitive rituals before heading out to a big match or competition. I feel I need to make one, believe I would be lost without one, so yes, perhaps it is an offshoot of my OCD and has become a ritualistic chore. But, with every item I pin on the board I feel more prepared and ready to write. I feel more confident and believe that by the time the board is finished I am ready to get to work. In other words, it gets me into the zone.

Once the idea board is complete, I am left with a visual representation of the story. Just a glance at it can get me back on track if I lose my way or have been unable to write for a period of time. While I do keep a record of ideas and such in my jotters, I often find myself flicking through pages in search of something I invariably fail to find. I have wasted an entire day just searching for something. I can become quite fixated on one thing and squander  valuable hours looking for it! So I also consider my idea boards time savers!

Like I say, I am already working on the board for Emergence. So far I have my character sheet, story outline, some drafts, writing sprints and ideas. It’s actually nearly finished! I also have my character board set up for Emergence. If you compare the Emergence board with the Malevolence character board, you will see a very obvious difference.


They have very different moods to them and this was intentional. The returning characters are different from what they were in the first book. They are a little wiser, more wary than they were in Malevolence. Emergence character board is also black-and-white. This was also deliberate as every time I look at it I want to remember what happened in Malevolence, what the characters went through and how they were at the end of the story. Also, the mix of black-and-white and colour in the Malevolence board bugged me after a while!  The only one who didn’t get a new photograph was Louise. The reason for this is because I don’t remember the woman’s name so therefore can’t source another photo of her. If you know who she is, let me know!

I should also point out that the people I choose for my character boards are people who I believe are most like the way I imagine my characters. I’m a terrible portrait artist otherwise I would create them from my mind onto paper or canvas.

Anyway, I’m getting very excited about writing again and have already started Emergence with approximately seven thousand words already written. It looks like the sequel to Malevolence will be well on it’s way long before NaNoWriMo even begins!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE


About oneofthedragons

Samantha K. Balk and F. R. Donaldson met on An Archive of Our Own, one of the many fanfiction sites online, when Sam asked Frankie to illustrate the fanfiction that would one day lead to Sam's first novel. They've been friends ever since! This blog was created as a way to share the oftentimes difficult journey any new author experiences on the uncomfortable quest of an introvert for attention to his or her most personal work. It is meant to remind you that authors don't just appear fully fledged like a George R. R. Martin, that all of us start out unsure and feeling inadequate. Feel free to ask us anything. Sam: sammykaye9@gmail.com Frankie: reluctant.fraggle@gmail.com

Posted on August 6, 2016, in #WriteTip, Frankeh Updates, Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I can understand the “doing things my own way” on writing a novel, each writer is different.

    I have tried to do character boards before for the series that I’ve been wanting/fearing to write for the last couple of years. I suck at it.

    My characters don’t have faces in my head, they do have personalities, character, voices, details about them that I can recognize in a heartbeat. I don’t think is abnormal but when I try to find pictures for them it’s almost impossible for me to pick one above others. If by way of speaking or reactions you ask me to identify them I will in seconds but by face? I don’t know…

    I’m sticking with “every author is different” by sometimes I just wonder if there is something wrong in not seeing their faces yet, specially after two years of living with them inside my head.


    • I don’t think there is something wrong in not seeing their faces yet. I don’t always have a face in my head. When I can’t see the character, I just look for a picture based on the character’s nuances. I found the picture for Eva Carlton simply by searching ‘haunting beautiful model’ and there she was, exactly as I thought of her. There isn’t always a face, but there is always a describer to help me find that face😉

      Liked by 1 person

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