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Mind Mapping for the Novelist

Since many of you are in the throes of NaNoWriMo, here’s a reprint of a post I wrote years ago discussing how helpful mind-mapping is and how you might use it to spur your creativity and work through your plotting ideas.

And, of course, any writer can utilize these techniques to help come up with great plot and character elements for any story.

Brainstorming ideas seems to be one of the hardest stages in the writing process for many novelists. As I discussed in a previous post, this storm of ideas that flash and thunder in our brains often appears unruly and difficult to harness.

I introduced the practice of mind mapping, which is used across many disciplines—such as in classrooms for essay writing and in business meetings to problem-solve. Mind mapping can be used in just about any situation when ideas need to be reeled in and transformed into practical application. Continue Reading…

How to Avoid Writing a Boring Story

This is the time of year when many writers (or aspiring ones) commit to the fun madness that is NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month is a huge ubiquitous event, with thousands of people spending the month of November writing a novel. It can surely be a fun exercise in creativity, stick-to-itiveness, and high-goal-setting.

But regardless if you are joining the mad crowd in this endeavor or not, there are some basic things every writer should consider before committing any amount of time to a project.

Don’t Bother Writing a Boring Story

It should go without saying that if your own story idea bores you, maybe you shouldn’t waste weeks, months, or years of your life writing that book. Don’t just write a book to write one, unless you just want to challenge yourself to accomplish such a goal, which is what some people strive to do during Nanowrimo. I’ve spoken to many people who wrote a novel just to see if they could do it, and for many, that end was satisfying in itself.

But for a serious career novelist (or poet or short-story writer) who wants to tell a compelling story, and hopefully more than just one in his lifetime, it’s a good idea for him to come up with a concept that excites him, for whatever reasons. Continue Reading…

What Microtension Is and Why Writers Must Master It

Note: This post was originally posted in August on Writer’s Fun Zone here.

Tension is created by lack. Lack of understanding, lack of closure, lack of equilibrium or peace. When your readers have questions, that creates tension. When they need to know what happens next, that is tension.

Masterful writers keep their readers in a constant state of tension. And that’s a good thing.

But here’s something to keep in mind: our characters may be tense, but that doesn’t mean readers are tense in response. A character with a tightened fist or clenched jaw does not ensure readers will respond in the same way. And that might not even be the desired response a writer is hoping for.

What the characters think, feel, and show must be carefully executed to evoke the desired emotional response in readers. Continue Reading…

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