How to Preserve a Plot Idea

Nicki J Markus

Nicki J Markus

Our Guest Blogger, Nicki J Markus, hates to let a good idea escape because it sneaks up on her when she’s not looking. So… she’s come up with some strategies to ensure that she snares those ideas right away. Here, she shares them with you…

Admin for  Artistic Types: How to Preserve a Plot Idea

If you are anything like me, story ideas will just pop into your head at the oddest times. That’s fine, but how do you make sure the ideas don’t slip away from you before you can get to work on that first chapter? Below are three things I do so those fluffy little plot bunnies don’t hop away from me. Some may be obvious, others less so; in any case, I hope you’ll find them helpful on your writing journey.

Pillow Talk

How often have you awoken from an amazing dream full of possibilities only to forget the whole thing before breakfast? The answer to this one is nice and simple: keep a pad and pen on your bedside table. You don’t need a huge A4 pad and your best fountain pen, just something small in which you can jot down your notes. There’s no need to compose the first chapter while still in your pyjamas—just get down a few notes that will jog your memory when you get chance to begin writing.

Creative Commuting

Another place ideas often come to me is on the bus on the way to work. As with the first tip, a pad and pen are all that is need to make a note of the main points you’ll need to help you remember your idea later on. I always have a pad and pen in my bag wherever I go as you never know when inspiration will strike.

Mental Exercise

So what if you forgot your pad or your pen ran out of ink? This is where a bit of mental gymnastics can do the trick. So, the story is in your mind and you’re worried it will drift away. The trick here is to make connections within your mind that will help you recall your idea later on. What connections you make will depend on your personality and what works best for you. For me, it’s music. I love music and often song lyrics really stick with me. In this instance it’s a case of the stickier the better.

If an idea comes to me, I let it rumble around in my mind and I look for connections. Does a particular aspect of the story remind me of a song? Once I find the right piece of music, I bring the lyrics into my mind, letting them permeate through the story idea, which I keep replaying. Then, later in the day, when I am able to start writing or at least jot some notes down, I think of the song and the storyline will come back to me too. Simple, no?


Everyone’s mind works differently and so everyone will have their own ways of jogging their memories. The best thing you can do is trial a few different ideas until you find the one that works for you; the one that helps you connect all the pieces and recall the plot to that bestselling novel you have yet to write. And remember—a small pad and pen are a writer’s best friends.

Happy Writing Everyone!



Books by Nicki J. Markus

Books by Nicki J Markus

More about Nicki J. Markus

Nicki J Markus was born in England in 1982, but she now lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Nicki J Markus launched her writing career in 2011 when she released several short stories with Wicked Nights Publishing. Her two current, short-novel releases, Day-Walker and Time Keepers are published by Silver Publishing.

In her spare time, Nicki J Markus also enjoys many other creative pursuits, including music, theatre, photography and sketching. She also has a keen interest in history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling and travel.

Where you can find Nicki…






How to Preserve a Plot Idea — 12 Comments

  1. After having to make due with napkins and the back sides of receipts, I’ve learned to keep paper on hand too. My next cell phone will need a voice recorder for those ideas that come while driving down the freeway. If only I could find something waterproof to record ideas when they strike in the shower.
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    • There’s a waterproof notepad called Aqua Notes. Google it for info. I haven’t tried it and can’t even remember where I heard of it–probably in someone’s blog. 🙂

  2. Agghh! That post reminds me of a great dream I had a couple of nights ago….what was it now? Hmmm, I thought at the time it would make an excellent story but now its gone. Darn! Must get that pen and notepad.
    BTW, some of those hints are good for remembering names, especially the associate it with music one. Doesn’t have to be music of course.
    Beverley recently posted…Depression PLRMy Profile

  3. Nikki,thanks for sharing these tips. I liked the interesting way you presented them, particularly the image conjured by “fluffy little plot bunnies” hopping away. I’ve been encouraging kids in school groups and aspiring writers in my adult writing sessions to keep pen and notebook handy at all times but the mental gymnastics was new to me. It would never have occurred to me to make connections with song lyrics. I must try it…I don’t always follow my own advice and am sometimes caught with a wonderful idea and no pen or paper.

  4. I usually have these vivid dreams in technicolor and when I wake up I mull about them for a few minutes and then forget. My mum noticed the problem I had and she advised me to keep a ‘Dream Book’ by my bedstand. That worked for a while, and then I gave up. But I like to keep a journal handy because I always have ideas.

    Thanks for this post Nicki and for your tips, they were really great!

  5. I can relate to just about everything in this post!

    I’m always having ideas and I learnt very early on that the best thing to do is record the idea as soon as possible, in whatever way I can. I always make sure that any new phone I buy has a voice recorder and notepad on it too, just to make sure nothing gets lost.

    It’s interesting you mentioned dreams too actually, as I had the idea for my current ‘work in progress’ through a dream I had, and then frantically rushed around looking for a pen and some paper before it disappeared!

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