Thursday, May 16, 2013

Time to get writing!

Here's another legacy post from my Goodreads blog.

November 18, 2012
Step one, write another book or books.

Back in early January I learned that authors who have more that one book under their belts are more likely to land an agent, so I realized that it was time to get writing.

Part one, prewriting.

Did I prewrite for The Golden Ship? No way! I just wrote and spent several years editing away the plot abonormalities, disjointed storyline, and scenes that didn't really fit into the story. Sure, it turned out great, but several years to produce one book was not in the plan. I needed a new book this year, so I decided that this time I would put some thought into things before I got started. In a 70 page, wide ruled notebook I picked up from a local grocery store I began to draft the startings of a new story, at the time unnamed.

There are many methods out there for pre-writing and each have their own pros and cons. I chose one that served me well for writing essays when I was working on my BBA at Strayer University. I've seen the method refered to with different names, mind mapping and the double bubble method, but both are essentially the same thing.
What I love about mind mapping is the sheer craziness and freedom of it. All you have to know to get started on one is one word or a topic. Then, you draw lines off from that to things that relate to the topic. From there, you branch off from each of those new related topics into more topics and the process continues until you have a very thorough idea of what your topic (or in this case, story) is about.

I also like that a mind map, by it's very nature, organizes your thoughts into logical sections and categories, something that is sometimes difficult to do when you don't know where to start.

So I began on page one of my notebook with a mind map. The topic in the center, the one that started me on the path to writing my second novel, Shadows of Valor, was "Flying Air Troups." From there, I branched off into "hats make them fly", "home", "chronology", "war", "country/state", "gear", "love", and "weapons". Did I keep all the original ideas when I started to actually write the story? No, but my mind map did provide an excellent reference and medium with which to define my characters and their environment. Before I began writing I created two more: Main Character and Main Character's love story. Other mind maps followed whenever I reached points in the story where I found myself blocked.

Of course, there are times when mind maps aren't the best tool, especially when it's time to describe a new location or even a memory, so the other method I used was drawing. Basically, if I was about to write a scene in a new location that deserved a detailed description, I would take a break from writing to sketch what I had in mind and then I would refer back to the picture whenever I wrote a scene for that location.

Along with the mind maps, my notebook is peppered with sketches of symbols, buildings, rooms, layouts, and even maps, which I still refer to today as I work on the second volume for what became Shadows of Valor.

Did prewriting help? You bet it did! I wrapped up my draft for the book in just six months, and when it came time to edit I found very little that needed attention.

Will I always prewrite? Probably not, but I won't hesitate to drop everything and do so when a topic eludes me or I can't quite picture what I want to put into words.

I encourage you to try these methods out in your own writing and see where they take you.

Next time, finding inspiration. . .
Published on November 18, 2012 08:15•  Tags: drawing, ideas, mind-map, mind-mapping, prewriting, sketching