A few months ago I started keeping a writer’s notebook of itms that could help me in my own writing. The notebook is divided into various sections, including “First Lines of Novels,” “Agents, Editors, etc.,” “Blog Post Ideas,” “Notes from Author Interviews I Saw or Read,” and “Lines I Like.” I’m doing my first writer’s notebook. My biggest challenge is guessing at how many pages to allot to each section.
First Lines of Novels
In the “First Lines of Novels” section I write down the opening sentence or paragraph from every book I read. Some of them make me think, I wish I’d thought of that!
Literary Agents, Editors, etc.
Occasionally, in the acknowledgements page, a novelist reveals the name of their literary agent or editor. I try to make a note of those names, especially if the book is historical fiction.
Notes from Author Interviews
When I hear an author being interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) or see one being interviewed on TV (usually on PBS – the Public Broadcasting System) by Charlie Rose or Tavis Smiley, I grab a pen and paper so I’m ready to jot down a quote, an idea, a recommendation, or a book name that piques my interest. The University of North Carolina public TV system (UNC-TV) has a weekly program called “Bookwatch” that features interviews with North Carolina writers. I especially enjoyed Lee Smith’s February 25, 2016 appearance on that show and her comments about her new book, Dimestore: A Writer’s Life. I read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I could hear Ms. Smith’s lovely Southern accent in my head as I read it.
Blog Post Ideas
This section is self-explanatory, but I find my writer’s notebook is a good place to write down blog post ideas. If I don’t write down ideas immediately, chances are I won’t remember them later.
Lines I Like
When I happen upon an unusually beautiful, humorous, or well-written passage in a book, I write it down in this section of my notebook. These are phrases, sentences, or paragraphs I want to read over and over again. I note the author’s name and the name of the book, of course.
I’ll end this post with a selection from that portion of my notebook:
“Their recent conversations skipped like stones across the surface of their lives, never finding depth, never touching the trouble that had been visited upon Alexander.” ~ The Guise of Another, a novel by Allen Eskens.