Start Writing Your Book with a GO Folder

If you're like me, you are constantly bombarded with ideas for books. They come in the middle of supper and at the stop light and in the shower. Ideas are everywhere. I catalog them all in my Idea Notebook, but not every idea can be a book. Life really is too short.

So how to winnow the idea list? I use a GO folder.

It's green (of course). It's nothing special – just pockets and grommets.

Inside I keep the following:

Logline formulas, like Luke's:

Main character
sets out to [achieve a goal]
but runs into [unexpected or sometimes ironic obstacle]
and must [grow in a way to triumph or face certain doom]

Beat Sheet from SAVE THE CAT

Plot & Character Worksheet (happy to share, if anyone wants to see what I use... just email me irene at irenelatham dot com to request the PDF)

I take my idea – often more of a premise, i.e., “boy who lives at the zoo” – and put it through these paces to determine if I do, in fact, have a book. Sometimes I'll create several loglines, just playing around. I do the same thing with the Beat Sheet and then move forward with the one that feels most compelling. Then I apply the Plot & Character worksheet, and if I'm still interested, still excited, I start a writing regimen of 1000 words a day (my standard writing diet).

Six to eight weeks later, voila! I've got a first draft. *Easy as pie.

*Sorry. That last sentence is a complete lie. But really, what good does it do anyone to think about how difficult something is?

If I can do this, you can do this.

GO, baby, GO!


  1. I keep hearing this I can do it you can do it... hummmm

  2. This is a great post. I love the ideas and will use them in future projects. Thanks Irene!

    1. Thanks for reading, Darlene. Looking forward to those future projects!

  3. This is great -- so different from my approach (I'll share a bit more of that tomorrow). I keep an idea book, but don't do all the pre-work that you do. It's so interesting to hear how different writers work.

  4. I am so impressed by your organization and analysis of your story ideas. Thanks for the inspiration!


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