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 Writing, Writing 101, Writing Exercises

Writing 101: The Witch of North End Road

This post was written in response to Writing 101: Hone Your Point of View.

All the kids call Mrs. Pauley the witch of North End Road. I don’t know if she is a witch. She’s old enough to be one. She’s been here since before Mom was a kid.

Some of the kids say that she cursed her husband and turned him into a frog. I don’t believe in curses like that. Those things are for kids. But he has been gone for a while.

Sara said that the witch killed Mr. Pauley and that’s why he’s not around. She thinks that the witch had to drink his blood to stay young. I don’t think she drank his blood. That’s vampires not witches. Besides if she drank his blood to stay young why does she have all those wrinkles?

I wouldn’t blame her if she did kill him. He was always yelling at me to be quiet. He popped my pool when I was a kid. Said it was on his yard so it was his.

Mom always took his side. Told me to stop bothering them because they were nice.

Yeah right. If they were nice then I’d be able to have my pool under their tree. It’s the only tree near our building. And if they were nice they’d give out good candy on Halloween instead of those nasty molasses vomit things.

I wasn’t surprised when the cops came. Someone probably narked on her or something. It was crazy. There were police and Mr Scott, the landlord, he was there too.

I seen them when I was sitting on the steps. I was waiting for Jazz to get there so we could go do something. She’s always late.

I don’t know if the cops arrested her because they were quiet. I think if they’re arresting someone they have to have the sirens on. It’s a law or something.

I wanted to ask the cops what was going on but Mom said I had to stay by our steps. She told me not to get in the way.

I heard from Charlie, whose Dad is a cop, that she was being kicked out. He said that Mr Scott found out that she was a witch and didn’t want her there no more. I don’t blame him witches are scary evil.

Mom says we should feel sorry for the witch. She says the witch is just a poor widow whose family abandoned her.

I think I even heard Mom and Dad talking about letting her stay here. They said something about talking to the witch’s kids but I know that’s not true. Everyone knows that witches can’t have kids.

I don’t know what’s going to happen but if the witch stays here I’m moving in with Jazz.


Posted in Writing, Writing 101, Writing Exercises

Writing 101: A Day At The Park (Take 2)

This was written in response to Writing 101: Point of View.

My first version keeps going back to password protection so here is my second attempt at posting.


The Old Woman

‘Johnny’s going to love this sweater. I hope it fits. That boy is growing far too quickly.’ Her hands shook slightly as she twisted the yarn around the needles.

The cracking of leaves caught her attention and she glanced up. A smile graced her face at the sight of the young couple. Oh to be young and in love again.

But she was far too old to be young, she would leave that to her soon to be 3 year old great-grandson.


The Woman

The sunlight beat a perfect rhythm on her face bringing out a laugh. She grabbed her fiance’s hand and tugged him into the piles of leaves.

“Come on Frederich. It’s a wonderful day to jump in the leaves.” She kicked at the leaves in front of her. “Can you imagine how beautiful our engagement photos will turn out?”

“Anna, the photos will turn out beautiful no matter what because you are in them.”

She smiled and tugged Frederich into a hug. Her eyes caught the glance of the elderly woman who was knitting on the park bench.

That would be her one day; knitting sweaters for her grandchildren.


 The Man

Anna made his life better. Watching her childlike joy as she played in the leaves made the fight for his life worthwhile.

He knew he had to tell her. She had plans for their future that can’t work out anymore. At least, not with him.

The shock of Anna grabbing his hand pulled him out of his thoughts. “Come on Frederich. It’s a wonderful day to jump in the leaves.”

He intertwined their fingers and smiled at her.

“Can you imagine how beautiful our engagement photos will turn out?” The light twinkled off of her eyes, making her look even more like an angel.

“Anna, the photos will turn out beautiful no matter what because you are in them.” I’m the one who will make them ordinary.

Anna pulled him into a hug, lightening his mood. He spun them around; making Anna giggle.

While spinning, he noticed the old woman watching them from her seat on the bench. He noticed the small sweater, half-formed in her hands.

A lone tear creeped down his face.

That was something he could never give Anna. If she stayed with him, she would never have the children she longed for.