Using Tables to Generate Ideas

    When I don’t know what to write next, whether the next action, solution for a character, or a brand new story, a word processing TABLE always helps.  I find those empty cells a lot more stimulating than a blank sheet of paper.
    I type a word in the upper left-hand cell
    and try names
    and situations.
    Possible actions
    Effects on story
    Tells a lie.
    Saves friend but the lie brings trouble for himself.
    For words, tables are better than spreadsheets because the cells expand to fit the content.  The cells can also be easily dragged to resize them.  In the next table I added a column to the right and a row below:
    Possible actions
    Effects on story
    Tells a lie.
    Saves friend but the lie brings trouble for himself.
    I use tables to learn about and expand my characters.  The empty box commands me to put something in it, right or wrong, it doesn’t matter.   I don’t always use these ideas but reading them later helps.
    What is difficult for this person?
    Waiting. wild thoughts. understanding. going ahead. thinking about anything else. doing nothing. sleeping, being realistic
    organizing, planning, going ahead with things, caring about anything
    being away,
    sharing thoughts,
    sharing himself,
    being loved;
    What result of the difficulty?
    tears for discarded, unwanted things;
    throws away her old work clothes;
    wants to buy a dress for her funeral; Asks Olive to take her
    stuck in time, marking time, waiting,
    The work self and the home self; affection side of him in the valley where he has more pleasant role;
    What is the person hiding?
    how much she wants to live; how little faith at this time; how focusing on any service lies close to her desire to live; what can she do for someone today?
    guilty that she’s glad Marsh is out of her life;
    does not like his job; has only work associates, no friends;
    As far as I know, tables in Word and OneNote operate similarly.  Tables are better than spreadsheets for blocks of text, because the cell will expand vertically, and it accepts a “return” or “enter” for a new paragraph without going to the next cell.  If the cell’s small size breaks your text in odd places, the size is easily adjusted.
    If you’re a visual thinker, making a table can help you plan and organize anything.
    For those who haven’t used tables:  You can create a table with the number of rows and columns you want (See “Insert Table” under TABLE on OneNote’s top menu; or in Word, “Table” under the “INSERT tab).  You can easily add and delete columns and rows later. 
    You can find video tutorials about tables, or you can learn by experimenting, or start with an official tutorial, here.

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