Zettelkasten Forum

Vague thoughts on a fiction-oriented ZK.

edited May 2019 in Writing

I write mostly fiction, not articles, so the distinction of what I put in my zettel is a weird one. I wind up putting a bunch of ideas and fragments into my ZK which would be a bad idea in a more academic work. For example, yesterday I wrote a two-sentence fragment which contains a nice idea, but I have no idea if or when it will become part of a book, story, rant, or anything.

Is this a good idea? I have no idea. I'm trying to optimize for what I will want to find in the future, but with fiction that is a much more nebulous thing.

Opinions are welcome.

Post edited by ctietze on


  • edited May 2019

    I am struggling with a similar issue; I am writing both nonfiction, fiction, and texts that blur the boundaries between both. At the moment, I've used a single folder for all my Archive text fragments, fictional or not, but there's a deeply-wired part of me that feels that this somehow violates something essential about the ZK method.

    Pathological perhaps, but there you have it..

    Started ZK 4.2018. "The path is at your feet, see? Now carry on."

  • I take the approach that I'm recording my ideas. I realize my ideas blur the boundaries of reality as @Phil would say. In their raw form, how could they not? They are not fully formed usually, open for revision, they are recorded hopefully without judgment, at the time of recording they may be wildly inaccurate in the face of reality. Once recorded then they are exposed to testing for usefulness. I think this is one of the superpowers of the Zettlekasten method; exposing our own ideas to the scrutiny of testing for usefulness. Ideas around fictional motions can turn out to be just as useful as motions around any topic. I just tag them appropriately and trying not to be too fussy. (Another superpower of the Zettelkasten method: Low persnicketiness.)

    Will Simpson
    My zettelkasten is for my ideas, not the ideas of others. I will try to remember this. I must keep doing my best even though I'm a failure. My peak cognition is behind me. One day soon, I will read my last book, write my last note, eat my last meal, and kiss my sweetie for the last time.

  • I have a structure note on small text fragments if they are fictional. But I regularly include them in other notes.

    Screenshot 2019-05-12 at 09.23.20

    In my opinion, in fiction your are on the level of metaphor. You paint an image to be seen by the inner eye of the reader. In non-fiction, however, you are on the level of model. You still paint an image to be seen by the inner eye of the reader. It is not a difference of what but a difference of how.

    Good Reference: The Master and his Emissary by Iain McGilchrist.

    I am a Zettler

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