How to Organize Story Ideas: 4 Methods That Work

Do you know how to organize story ideas? If you don’t, you’re not alone. Learn how I organize story ideas so that they’re close at hand when needed.

When I began writing, I had a ton of ideas, but organizing those ideas was a nightmare! Coming up with a system to organize those ideas quickly was a vital part of becoming a successful writer.

However, because all writers are different, it can be difficult to find the perfect organizational structure to keep your ideas both neatly classified and easy to access. In this article, I’ll discuss different ways to organize your writing, so that you can find the perfect fit for your style.

Ways To Organize Story Ideas

How to organize story ideas?
  1. Storyboard: storyboard allows you to roughly sketch out what’s going to happen to your characters at specific points in the plot. They work well if you need help developing a solid visual feel for how the action will flow in your story.
  2. Chronological Order: One of the simplest forms of story organization ideas, this approach looks at what’s happening to your character in order of time. To paraphrase Gandalf, start at the beginning, proceed through the middle, and when you reach the end, stop.
  3. Index CardsIndex cards are great when you have several major events in your storyline, but you’re still not certain what order they’ll occur in. You can simply rearrange the index cards until you find the order that works for your story.
  4. Mind MappingMind mapping allows you to brainstorm and play with different organizations of your story ideas, but using a logical flow of thought in the process. Take the time to talk through different orders of your story ideas to find the one that works best.

Using Online Tools To Organize Story Ideas

Evernote graphical user interface
You can create notebooks that cover a specific story or simply organize different topics that you write
  1. Evernote: Evernote is a wonderful story organization tool, allowing you to clip research, notes and even imagery to a single notebook. You can create notebooks that cover a specific story or simply organize different topics that you write about regularly.
  2. Google DriveGoogle Drive is great for collaboration, and its organizational aspects make it a good bet for working through story ideas. Create separate folders for each story that you’re working on, then organize your ideas within each folder.
  3. Trello: If you’ve got a list-based mindset for organizing your story ideasTrello can provide you with some great options, with numerous lists, called cards, that can be moved around to help you see your overall plot line. Items can be switched around between lists as well, providing a fluid organizational structure.
  4. Pinterest: If you use a lot of imagery in your stories, a digital idea board such as Pinterest does a great job of organizing those ideas into specific topics or groups. This allows you to access them quickly and easily, especially if your mind cues on images rather than file names.
  5. Mind Mapping: Though you can do mind mapping on paper, there are a number of apps that make it simple to keep this process close to hand. By having a digital mind map, you can quickly access it, transfer it to other devices and otherwise make easy use of its information.

Three Powerful Ways To Brainstorm New Story Ideas

Story outline
Plot points allow you to create fully-developed points within the plot and then reorganize the order
  1. Plot Line: Centering your brainstorming around your plot line allows you to carefully weave interesting characters and events into your story. At the same time, the linear approach helps prevent plot holes as you work through the story.
  2. Plot Points: If you prefer to come up with interesting events, but you’re not certain what order you’d like them to occur in, this form of organization provides a more fluid approach to brainstorming. It allows you to create fully-developed points within the plot and then reorganize the order.
  3. Main Character: When you prefer to focus your story on your main character and their experiences, this brainstorming approach allows you to create ideas that focus on that experience. You can come up with ideas focused on how those issues will impact your characters.

The Final Word on How to Organize Story Ideas

By taking the time to organize your story ideas, you can quickly gain more time to spend on writing. Rather than hunting for an idea that has been misplaced over the past few days, weeks, or months, you can focus on moving your storyline forward, getting closer to a completed piece you can share and enjoy.

FAQs on How to Organize Story Ideas

How should you organize your story ideas?

It depends on your writing style and personal organization preferences, but most people find storyboarding, chronological order, flexible event order, and mind mapping effective.

Have You Chosen The Right Main Character To Tell Your Story?

Consider what you’re trying to accomplish with your writing, then look at the range of characters you can bring into the spotlight to move that objective into the forefront.

How do you start writing a book from an idea in your head?

Many authors use a basic outline of a character, plotline, or concept, then build the book out from that basic outline into a more in-depth piece.

How do you go about organizing a story?

It will depend on your overall preferences, but if you can come up with a basic plotline, weave your main characters into the story and fill in specific events, you’ll be a long way to organizing the entire story.

How do you get an idea for a story?

Look at the world around you. Whether you see it in a whimsical fashion, see the humor in daily life or enjoy stories from people and places around you, you’ll find inspiration for your tales.

How do you organize a story?

Some people prefer to keep notebooks, while others organize sticky notes or index cards, and others work with a range of digital organization tools to organize their overall plot lines.

What are three ways to organize ideas in writing?

Great online options can include collaborating over Google Docs, using Evernote to manage research resources, or Trello to organize the notes you’ve made on different characters, plot elements, and events.

How do you organize your ideas in writing?

Some individuals do well to make short impressions of their thoughts on lists or index cards, while others prefer to use graphic or visual representations, such as an image or storyboard style of organization.

How do you organize a story outline?

When you create an outline for your story, you can then break the story down into specific parts or chapters. It’s much easier at that point to add elements into specific folders, notebooks, or similar organization for those separate parts.

What are some good story ideas?

Good story ideas abound, but telling the tale well is the biggest challenge. If you consider that Huckleberry Finn told the story of a runaway boy and Romeo and Juliet were about teenagers in love, they don’t sound very engaging. It’s the way these classic tales were woven that made the difference.

Storytelling Resources

A Storytelling Guide: Step-By-Step, With Examples

First vs Third Person Point of View: What Makes Sense for Your Story?

How to Write a Story Outline that Works: 9 Steps

The 11 Best Story Writing Apps for This Year

The Hero’s Journey: Explained In 12 Steps

Synopsis Example: How To Write A Winning Summary Of Your Story

Allegory vs Parable: What Are the Differences?

7 Types of Conflict in Literature Worth Exploring

12 Character Archetypes To Drive Your Writing

  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.