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.

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