Posted in NaNo, On Writing

NaNo Prep: Expanding Ideas

The second step of my NaNo prep is to expand on the idea I’ve come up with. There are a few methods that I use to expand on my ideas. Occasionally I will use one over the others but for the most part I use a bit of each of them.

Expanding With Word Clouds

This is basically the same as my last post except I already have an idea of what I’m writing instead of trying to figure it out.

When I use this method it is usually to write non-fiction. Each cloud outside of the central cloud is used as either a secondary topic or an expansion on a secondary topic.

Expanding With Lists

Similar to word clouds, this method involves word association. However, instead of placing each item in its own cloud, you write them into an unordered list. Once you have completed your list, you can organize it so that it is more fluid.

Again, this is a method that I use when writing non-fiction. However, when I already have a basic plot for a story, I will use this method to organize it.

Expanding With Conflicts

For this method you need to add conflicts to your idea. Occasionally for this method I will pair it with the “What If” game. For instance “What if zombies appeared?” or “What if the main character finds out they are ill?”

Once a conflict is added, it must then be made worse with a complication. For instance, the main character finds out they are ill. This can be made complicated by it being a hereditary disease and the main character is adopted. Perhaps they always knew they were adopted and never felt the need to find their birth family or maybe they never knew they were adopted.

This is one of my favourite methods for planning fiction as it allows plots to form organically.

Expanding With Questions

This is probably my favourite method of idea expansion because I find it the most fun. Quite literally the only thing you have to do is ask a question and answer it. Each answer should bring up another question. This builds up the idea because you are constantly answering new questions.

While the other methods work for fiction and non-fiction outlines, this method is my preferred one for world building. It may help me with plots and outlines but I find it usually builds more backstory than main story.

 

Let me know in the comments if these helped you with your NaNo planning or if you laugh in the face of outlines and are planning to pants.

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Posted in NaNo, On Writing

NaNo Prep: Word Clouds

One of my favourite methods of pre-writing is word clouds (also known as mind maps, word nets, and clustering). I find that this is the best way for me to come up with subplots which are connected to the main idea without overshadowing it or being too unlikely. It also helps me if I have a very rough idea (such as a genre) and I want to narrow it down into a writable plot.

To start, take your idea and write it in the middle of a sheet of paper. Then, draw a cloud around it. This is what I like to affectionately call “the beginning”.

As you think about the beginning, write down all of the ideas you associate with it. Circle these ideas and connect them to the beginning with lines. (To see an example, look at the image down below.)

If you think of things associated with an idea but not the beginning, write those down and connect them to the idea. If you think of something associated with several ideas, connect it to all of the ideas you associate it with. It is also perfectly ok to start a new cloud from an idea if you find yourself running out of room on the original page or if one idea has more associations than all the others.

Continue making these clouds and connections until you have either run out of ideas or feel you have enough ideas to create an outline.

Word Clouds

 

Posted in Blogging 101, Challenges, Writing

Should Have Called Ahead

“I’m telling you Emma, it doesn’t look as if anyone works here. It probably went out of business when my grandfather died.” Carrianne went behind the desk and started looking through some papers. “There doesn’t seem to be any guests booked in at all for the last year.”

“That’s because you’re looking at the wrong books. Everything is on computer now.” A brown-haired girl pulled out the top drawer of the desk, revealing a laptop. “And why are you going through the paperwork? Normally people call ahead if they want to stay here.”

“Well, this wasn’t really planned and I didn’t have the number. Mum just told me to come here and speak with the council.” Carrianne said with a shrug. “Besides, I was told that I inherited the Flowering Rose from my grandfather. I thought that it had gone out of business since I had no idea it existed until now.”

“It didn’t go out of business. We took care of it since you were too busy.” The brunette shook her head. “Goddess, you think you are so much better than us don’t you? Why are you even here? We don’t need you. The Rose got on fine without you.”

“What are you talking about? I didn’t even know about this place until Mom got sick. She told me that my grandfather gave me the Flowering Rose in his will. I thought that I should at least come and check the place out.”

“Oh please, you and your mom think you’re too good for Winterwood. You come here to get what you want and leave as soon as it gets tough. You own the Rose but you’ve never done anything for it. You never even come to visit. So why are you here now?”

“I told you. I didn’t know about the Flowering Rose until Mom got sick.” Carrianne enunciated each word to a painful degree. “If it was up to me, I would sell it to someone who would take care of it. But I have no control over who owns it right now.”

The girl shook her head. “Yeah right, tell me another tale while you’re at it. You own the place. You have all the control.”

“The deed is in trust with the council. I need to meet with them before I get control. And Mom warned me that I may need to complete some other things as well before they will give me the deed.” Carrianne folded her arms and leaned against the desk. “I wish I had control but I don’t. So, do you mind telling me who you are and if there is a free room my friend and I can stay in while we get this sorted?”

“I’m Marny and I don’t think there are any rooms. You should have called ahead like everyone else.”

 


 

 

Blogging 101 asked us to make a prompt our own. The prompt I chose was today’s writing prompt from The Daily Post: “Shoulda Woulda Coulda.”

Posted in Blogging 101, Challenges

Who Are You Talking To?

“Take a bow dear.”

“For who? There’s no one in the audience.”

“Not yet, but there will be. We must practice for them.” Madame Arsenault waved her hands at the empty seats. “Soon these seats will be filled with people from all walks of life. We must perform so that our ideal audience remains seated.”

“Ideal audience? What, you mean people who show up and sit down?”

Madame Arsenault laughed, her hands clutching her stomach. “No dear child. By ideal audience, I mean the people you want to watch you. I perform for my dear Gracie. I dedicate each performance to her.”

“Oh – I don’t know who I perform for. I suppose I perform for myself.” I lift my hand up to my mouth and start chewing on my fingernails.

“That’s good, but it’s not enough. If you just performed for yourself, why do you share it?” Madame Arsenault pulls my hand away from my mouth. “And don’t chew your nails dear, it’s a horrid habit.”

“Ok, I perform for myself and others like me.”

“Are all of your performances for yourself?”

“I don’t know. I suppose not. There are times when I perform for my family or my friends. But when I do perform for them, it is different from my normal work. My performances for my nephews are short and fanciful. Performances for my parents are deep but strange. My sister is a very logical person so when I perform for her, everything is straight to the point with no fuss.”

“What about that man of yours? Do you ever perform for him?”

“There are times but those are just for him.”

“And this performance, right now, who is this for?”

“This is for me. It’s weird, wonderful, and strangely to the point.”

 

 

This post was writing in response to Blogging 101’s assignment to “Focus on Your Audience”.

Posted in A.P. Roberts, Blogging 101, Challenges

Let Me Express Myself

I will start by being 100% honest with you; I am writing this post while listing to a playlist of Madonna’s best music.

 

AP’s Quill began as AP Roberts’ Stories. I thought that by making a site dedicated to my writing I would write more often. I had big plans to post only stories and poems. I didn’t need to write about the craft of writing because I felt I already knew everything.

That didn’t happen. I wrote many snippets of scenes and stories but failed to post 95% of what I wrote. And most of what I did post was about the craft of writing rather than my creative writing.

My lack of posting had little to do with the blog and more to do with the fact that my SO was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) and required a bone marrow transplant (BMT). The time I spent writing was usually while waiting to see doctors or watching my SO get a transfusion.

Continue reading “Let Me Express Myself”

Posted in A.P. Roberts, Blogging 101, Challenges

It All Starts Tomorrow… #Blogging101

I did it. I finally signed up for Blogging 101, one of the free courses offered by the WordPress team over at the Daily Post.

While I have wanted to sign up for another Writing University course for a while, I’ve felt extremely anxious about it. I’ve allowed my fears to dictate my life in terms of what I attempt. In truth I have allowed my fears to turn into regrets.

I have having regrets. They are heavy on the mind and weighty on the soul. Blogging 101 shall no longer be a chain that drags me down.

Besides, my blog could use a good update and I could use the kick in the pants.

In all honesty, I’m excited. This is the first month where I’m not acting as caregiver to my SO (he was finally given the go-ahead to start back at work and get live vaccinations!), and because of that I am able to put more into my writing. My celebration is to join and finish Blogging 101.

Who is with me? Anyone else getting a refresher or starting a new blog?

Posted in Challenges, NaNo, On Writing

That NaNo Time of Year

For the past 8 years I have participated in NaNoWriMo and this year is no exception.

On November 1st, NaNo seemed like an insurmountable challenge akin to my first few years when I was recovering from surgeries and under heavy pain medication. Those years I didn’t win NaNo; in fact, I didn’t even come close. With all the stress involved in my life at this time, I was ready to give up on NaNo before I began. I thought I would end up writing nothing because all of my time would be spent working overtime and helping with my father-in-law’s estate. I was in a panic because I had nothing figured out and I was stressed more than I can ever recall.

Then, today, I did something amazing. I started with a blank page and the words started flowing. They weren’t quite the words I was expecting and certainly not the genre I tend to fall back on, but they were words and they were written.

While I have yet to post my word count on the site I am progressing. Despite the stress involved in figuring out my father-in-law’s estate, I have managed to write a fair number of words. Despite losing hours to working overtime, I have words.

I don’t claim that the words I’ve written are masterpieces of literature. I don’t claim that any of my writing today has been grammatically correct. I have run my post through the WordPress proofreader and through several spellcheck programs. I am hopeful that my worst errors have been caught and corrected. However, right now I feel such freedom from having written through the stress that I don’t mind if I missed something.

I will allow my perfectionist self to deal with my stress levels in a separate area of my brain. For now, my writerly self is going to write.

What about you? If you’re taking part in NaNo this year are you keeping on track? Are you pantsing like me or do you have detailed plans?

Posted in A.P. Roberts, Challenges, Writer's Hub

Dear A.P.

A.P. Roberts,

You are a wonder to behold. You may not get told that as often as you would like, or need, but you are amazing. This is why your name is Awesome Person Roberts.

Of course, we also know that A.P. doesn’t actually stand for Awesome Person. The A does stand for amazingly awesome but the P is what you tend to forget about.

You know the P stands for perseverance in the face of writers’ block and procrastination in the face of deadlines. But you don’t realize that it also stands for “potential magic”.

You have the power to release magic into the world with a stroke of your purple pen. You have the power to create people and the worlds they live in. You have the power to entangle readers into any story that you weave.

But you’ve only begun to accept this power for what it is. Until you began Writing 101 you allowed your inner perfectionist to run rampant through you creativity. You would edit and rewrite pieces meant to be free-writes because you felt unworthy.

This is why I’m writing this letter. I see you allowing yourself to fall back into those habits you worked so hard to get past.

I don’t want that potential magic to be permanently forgotten.

There are many people who will tell you that you need to “get over yourself” and others that will say you “don’t want it hard enough”. But all those doubters and naysayers are wrong.

Don’t get over yourself, work with yourself. Free the insecurities and anxiety by letting them out on paper. Regardless of who reads your work, you will feel better by letting out the negative emotions.

Your problem is that you want it too much. You want perfection in yourself and your work but you don’t expect perfection from others. You are aware that perfection doesn’t exist outside the realms of personal preference yet you constantly chase it. You spend so much time staring at the goal of perfection that you are missing the steps that lead to accomplishment.

Do you remember how accomplished you felt as you finished each assignment of Writing 101? Do you remember how proud you were that you were posting on a consistent schedule?

Keep it up! I dare you to post at least once a week. Then you can play WoW and Minecraft with your SO. Then you can allow yourself to watch Dr Phil and Doctor Who.

Then you can feel accomplished because you deserve that feeling. You deserve to feel proud of your work and proud of what you have done. And you, Ms Amazing Pixie, have all the tools necessary to accomplish this goal.

Sincerely,

A.P. Roberts, writer extraordinaire

 

The Writer’s Hub challenged you to write a letter to yourself. Your topic, should you choose to accept it, is “who you are as a writer”.

 

Thank you Kaygy for pointing out some of the typos I missed. 🙂

Posted in Writer's Hub, Writing, Writing Exercises

In Remembrance

Jade M. asked “Do two lines make a poem?” and Whisper2Scream replied with a poem. I encourage everyone to check out both Jade M’s and Whisper2Scream’s sites and read their poems. Both of these fabulous writers have inspired me to write my own two-line poem.

Trigger Warning: The poem is a reflection of my grief from my father-in-law’s passing. If you cannot deal with death please don’t read.

Continue reading “In Remembrance”

Posted in A.P. Roberts, Challenges, Writing 101

Writing 101: Written Treasures

This post was written in response to Writing 101: The Things We Treasure.

 

Shiny baubles may catch my eye and I may be easily mesmerized by twinkling lights but neither constitute a treasure. I love my family and adore my friends but they are not my deepest treasure.

If you were to cut me open and peer at my heart, you would find in it a treasure more desirable to me than gold or diamonds. Piled high in my heart, flowing through my veins, live stories.

I hoard books filled with stories so that they line my walls without a space between them. I wait, impatiently, for stories not yet written. I long for ideas that will capture the minds of readers far into the future. I crave new stories that I can read and explore their worlds. I anticipate the next story as I’m closing the book I’ve just finished.

As far back as I can remember I have loved stories. I can still remember the words of the “Lost Little Kitten” being read in my mother’s voice. There are story books that have been passed on to the newest generation which were read to me as a child. Some of the stories I remember from my youth were created by parents and babysitters who wanted us to settle for the night. Other stories from my youth were written in scribbles on the notebooks my parents left lying on the kitchen table.

My mother encouraged my love of stories by buying me treasures to hoard like a dragon in its cave. When one book was finished another was waiting to be read. From a modest stack, the treasures grew into a massive pile.

I’ve cut down on my treasure since becoming a woman. I’ve shared them with those less fortunate by donating to libraries and local foundations. Unfortunately for my floorboards, the pile still keeps growing.

 

Whisper2Scream pointed out the disconnect between the previous beginning and the rest of this piece. I’ve edited out the old beginning and replaced it with something I like a bit better.