#TBT! A (kind of embarrassing) glimpse into my writing notes

IMG_2375In honor of Throwback Thursday, I thought it would be fun to share a look inside my writing notebooks. I, quite literally, have a pile of notebooks where I jot down my ideas for Records of the Ohanzee. I never know when a sentence or scene will come to me, so I make sure to have a notebook on hand at all times. The smallest silver one lives in the glove box of my car. It tends to get the most action since my ideas often come while driving. The bottom two in the pile are completely full, while the larger silver one and the waves book are still active.

By now, you’re probably thinking that there’s nothing “throwback” about writing notebooks. The thing is–I started writing this series back in early 2005. So these notebooks contain the very beginnings of the story, from a time when I wasn’t even sure if I would ever really be able to turn them into a book.

Below is one of the first pages of my original notebook, dated February 17, 2005. As I was re-reading over these notes, I was both amused and embarrassed by them. The story has come so far since this rudimentary start that its a bit like looking through awkward elementary school photographs of myself. (Little orphan Annie hair from third grade was not a good look on me. You’ll have to take my word on that because that picture is never coming to light on the internet.)


The scene here actually did end up becoming the opening of Chapter 1 in book 1. It’s kind of funny to see how much and how little changed between these notes and the final version. At this point, Nerissa was going by the generic “Princess” because I hadn’t yet figured out her name. I had completely forgotten that Charis ever went by another name (Acadia?!). Despite these major differences, the scene itself hardly changed at all. The first line of dialog at the bottom of the page, “What harm could possibly come from reading a book?” is the first sentence of Chapter 1.


Here’s an image from January 2013, which ended up becoming part of book 1, Chapter 14 “Treasures.” I should point out that, when I note down scenes, they aren’t in any particular order. I just record the images I see at the time and go back for them later when I realize where they were meant to go in the story. Which is how things like this happen:


Notice that this clip was from May 7, 2010–3 years prior to the above section that ended up being part of Chapter 14 in book 1. But this scene with Raysel ultimately became part of Chapter 18 in book 2. The final version can be seen in the image below. (I had to blank out the next page in the notebook because it contains spoilers for the third story arc.)Sword

My last example is from September 2007. I still distinctly remember when I made these notes. I woke up from a sound sleep at 3am and dashed into the other room to write down this scene before I forgot any of the details. For those of you who have read book 2, you will immediately recognize the opening scene of Chapter 1. The final version changed very little from these initial, late-night scribblings–despite being written 60,000+ words and almost 8 years apart.


I’m eternally grateful to “past Rachel” for keeping such good notes and being organized enough not to lose a single one of them over 10 years and through multiple moves. I’m sure that “future Rachel” will also be relying on these notes quite heavily too! I’ll leave you with one final throwback image…


Anybody else remember these? They were the wave of the future…or so I thought in 2005. ^_- I guess that can be chalked up with hoverboards and self-tying shoes? (Why was Back to the Future Day one day too early for TBT?!)


    1. It’s becoming a lost art, but I do all of my notes and outlining by hand. I like being able to line through without losing the idea entirely (aka deleting) or drawing weird squiggly arrows to connect seemingly unrelated thoughts. There’s no substitute for working out ideas by hand!

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      1. I feel the same. I will work on printed drafts of something that I’ve created via computer, but when I first learned writing, it was all longhand drafts then typed / printed later versions and final copy. I have notebooks that go back to my teens, full of bad poetry and bad ideas that I keep, just in case (they will eventually go into a box with strict instructions to burn the lot in the event of my demise…)

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