Writing Tips: Lists Help in Creative Writing

A list of items, which you can build with keywords relevant to any context, can be a great aid in your writing. A list is not necessarily facts; it’s just a few keywords (words, ideas, thoughts, technologies, applications, services, names, companies, articles, websites, objects, clothes, cuisines, feelings, expressions, clich├ęs, etc.) The list can be endless containing many items.

How Does a List Help?

In creative writing, lists can be a great help. It’s a way of brainstorming. Whenever you come across an idea, you should add it to the relevant list. Let’s imagine you are writing a story about a Chinese woman, who found herself stranded in a US city street after thieves stole her things and left. Her skill in English is not up to the mark, and she hadn’t memorized her contact’s address.

To successfully write this situation, create a list each for the items she had in her luggage, the places she had in her itinerary, the ideas as to what her plan would be in the US, and the government agencies and organizations she can approach for help.

Now, try writing the scene. You will find that your research has become a lot simpler. You only have to pick out the appropriate keyword from the list and research it further. Thoughts are simpler and your writing gets finished in half time.

Creating Lists

List building is part of the research. But, all you do here is list a few things that may have influence in your writing. You should not limit yourself to one list of all keywords, but create as many lists as you want, with relevant keywords.

Create a list for each of your character, chapter, scene, etc.

Creating list associated with each point of development of your plot helps you fight the writer’s block as well. If you have a number of ideas by which you can move your plot forward, enlist them. Refer to these whenever you have any plot development problem. Sometimes, you may casually get some great ideas. Put them down in a list so that you can refer to them when you are actually sitting down to write.

How to Put Down Lists

The best way to put down your lists is using your word processor; just create some independent word files as a bulleted list. Otherwise, you can create lists on your diary, allotting a page for each list. However, using the word processor, the list updating can be quite easier.

To jot down the casual ideas you get, keep a notepad always. Keep it below your pillow with a pencil, and jot down any idea you get during the night. This way, you needn’t be afraid of losing any great ideas you come across when you are awoken by a nightmare.

What to List and What Not to

When you create lists, it’s important to know what exactly to list. You don’t want to make your lists overly complex by listing all relevant and irrelevant things, you think, may add to the list. This can make your list huge and unmanageable.

Only list those items, which are relevant. The smaller the list, the better it is. You should create several lists associated with each character and scene you have in mind and link the related lists together. This way, you can remove a lot of redundancy.


List creation is a great way to organize your research information. This way, you can list all your relevant keywords under appropriate topic headings. In this way, you can easily research any of the items further. List building is important not only for fiction, but also for non-fiction.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

5 Opinions:

  1. Thanks for the tips. I'm going through writer's block and your post is helping. Thanks

  2. Hi thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.


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  4. Hi, I find all your stuff pretty helpful. I am trying to write my first blog, I believe it is a "Must" to do it, as I want my story to be known. I want truth to be told. I appreciate your help, pls keep up the good work and maybe give a small visit to my blog! :)

  5. I think lists are a great way to brainstorm and know the direction your story is going. In fact a list and very similar to writing an outline for your plot. I've never thought to write outlines or lists for your characters, but that's a great way to remember what's what if you step away from your writing for awhile.


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