I just finished reading one of the most helpful books on writing I’ve ever read—and that’s saying a lot considering how many titles decorate my shelves.
But I hesitate to tell you the title. You might faint. You might freak out. You might jump back from your computer screen or iPhone or whatever device you’re reading this on and chuck it out the nearest window.
One word, in particular, in this book’s title is generally known to make writers quake in their pink bunny slippers as if they are witnessing a wolf spider crawl up the bathtub drain. Read more
In an earlier post, I wrote about the power of clustering to generate new ideas. Normally, I use paper and pen because there’s something about writing my ideas out longhand that gets my synapses flaring. But recently I discovered Scapple, an online tool that helps you get ideas down on the page and then make connections between them.
Scapple is for Mac and sold by Literature & Latte, the people who created Scrivener. You can use Scapple as a mind mapping tool or not. The program doesn’t force you to make specific connections. It doesn’t expect you to start out with one central idea off of which everything else is branched. There’s no built-in hierarchy–every note is equal, so you can connect them however you like. Read more
Recently, I’ve been toying with an idea for a creative nonfiction piece that I want to enter in an upcoming writing contest, but I’m having a difficult time getting all the threads down. After reading about different plot tools in author Holly Lisle’s “Create a Plot Clinic,” I decided to try her idea of clustering to expand on my idea.
Lisle says, “To cluster, you write a word, a phrase, or a question, draw a circle around it, draw an arrow, write the first word, phrase or question that comes to your mind in relation to the first circle, and keep writing and drawing until you’ve formed a web.” This technique is also called mind mapping, and I’ve used it before but then sort of forgot about it.
So I pulled out my yellow pad and pen (colored pencils and drawing paper are fun, too) and wrote my original idea in the center of my paper and circled it. From there, I drew lines and other circles and wrote down the first words that came to me. Within a half hour, I had my entire piece outlined in the mind map.
Here’s a picture of what it looked like when I was done (don’t be frightened off from my handwriting–it comes from my paralegal days): Read more