Writing 101: Cluster Choices

Today, I will go over a new idea that I thought of recently. This is what I call “Cluster Choices”. This is something I have never done before with my writing, so it is going to be an experiment on my end. I’m talking about this today, in case anybody else wanted to do this with me. Feel free to comment below on what you think of this technique and how it worked for you.

So, Cluster Choices. When you get to a point in your writing that involves making a choice to continue the story, write down the various options that you think of. Make sure there is enough room on the page, white board, ect. to be able to branch out the options. For each possible choice, think of what could happen through each path that is open to you and branch it out from the main choice option. Which one would work best for your story? When you get to the next block, you can do the same thing. Try it out and see how you like it! Below is an example I made.

    

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Please Leave Comments/Questions if You’d Like!

Just a quick post here. Taking care of a blog about writing novels and stories is really difficult, due to all of the different ways to write novels/stories. So, if you guys have any questions for me about the subjects, or have any requests for future blog posts, feel free to leave a comment on any posts that I have made so far.
I’ll keep a tally of requests and make my way down the list, depending on how many “votes” each category is given. I want everybody to come away from my posts feeling more confident in their writing, as well as more informed. If a question or comment is something I do not know much about, this will give me something to strive for as far as learning something new. This will not only help me grow, but give everybody else the knowledge as well after I have done extensive research. So, let’s be successful writers together!

Finding Time For Writing

Many writers ask this question at one point in their writing life. The thing to remember is that everybody has the same 24 hours a day, no matter who they are. With so many commitments for our jobs, family, friends and hobbies, it may seem like we do not have very much time in the day to write.

Remember, even if you find time to write five minutes a day, that is still better than no writing at all. Of course, we all have days where we simply do not feel like writing. That’s fine as well because we all could use days off to recharge and spend time with loved ones. If writing is feeling like it is becoming a chore, stop and find something else to do for awhile. The recommendation I have is to keep something nearby to write in, in case you find inspiration. You do not want to tell yourself that you’ll remember something only for you to forget about it later. Trust me, that is so frustrating! Speaking of journals, make sure you keep a journal for those dreams you remember when you wake up so you can make scenes out of them. I have come up with whole novel ideas through my dreams, so this is an excellent resource that is often overlooked.

If you feel overwhelmed by the space you are trying to write in, go ahead and clean up. Do your eyes keep wandering over to the dirty dishes in your sink when you are trying to write a fight scene? Go ahead and wash them or put them into your dishwasher. If something is preoccupying your mind, take care of it so you don’t lose focus. Finding time to write can be a challenge and a struggle, especially with commitments to the family, your kids’ sports practices, an out-of-town retreat for work, ect.

Another trick is to write down each major thing you do all day. Did you watch television six or seven hours one day? Could you shave that down to four or five hours per day? Do you find yourself on social media for hours on end? Perhaps thirty minutes to an hour is suffecient. Do you have a two hour ride ahead of you? Perhaps you can do some novel planning or writing in the vehicle? If you pay attention to what you do during the day, you can find time even in small increments. Have fun!

Find Time for Yourself

Everybody has days where they do not feel like writing. Sure, many people recommend writing at least five minutes everyday, thoguh, you really do not want to burn yourself out. If you do not feel like doing it, for whichever reason, don’t force it on yourself. This is especially true for the more difficult days. Take some time for yourself so that you could relax. If something else is occupying your mind and it is something that can be taken care of, go head and take care of it. The less stress you have on your mind and in your life, the easier it will be for you to focus on your craft. If it is something that you need or want to focus on, you can still think about scenes in your story and make notes for yourself, that way, when you go back to your story, you should have an easier time writing out the scenes than you previously have. On that note, have fun creating your worlds!

Reading Other’s Reviews

In this post, we will talk about book reviews. This isn’t going to be about the books you published or are thinking of publishing. This is going to be about reviews for books by other authors. Why? We are going to use those reviews as a learning tool to improve our own stories.

First off, find books in your genre from sites like Amazon (more specifically, Kindle books) and Goodreads. Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance and the like would all be considered genres. Going even deeper, you may even want to read through books in your niche. Zombies, vampires and dystopia would be considered niches.

Once you find several book reviews to read through in your genre/niche, notice the complaints about the book. This is what many readers find annoying about those specific books. Would you like to have the same type of reviews on your work? Probably not. Of course, you cannot please everybody, so I would advise you not to take any harsh reviews personally.

Now go to the next book’s reviews and read through those. Are there any similarities between the reviews? You may want to make a list of complaints that you find that you were thinking of adding to your own story. I’ll use the zombie niche as an example, because those have risen in popularity over recent years. One complaint which can be found throughout this niche is that the main character picks up a gun and start “killing” zombies with perfect headshots. That isn’t really realistic, no matter how good a shot a person is. There are factors that would work against the main character, such as fear, which could affect their shooting ability as they try to put distance between them and the zombies. Another issue with this genre is how everything seems to go great for the main character, you know, everything seems to be handed to them out of thin air. This, in effect, makes the story unbelievable and takes the reader out of the story.

What could you do if you notice something many readers do not seem to like within your own story? If it is a cliche, perhaps you could change it up a little? Cliches work, which is why so many stories have them, though, people get tired of them quite easily. What if your hero suffers from everything handed to them? Make their situation more dire to where they need help from the people around them. This could add conflict, if those who are supposed to be “helping” are actually either hindering your hero’s actions or are doing things for their own goals. Also, your main character doesn’t always have to be the leader. They could be part of a group and show concern over the group’s current leader, or they could dutifully do as they are asked. Stories have so many different possibilities from all the characters within the story. The question is, who do you want to be your main and secondary characters, and how can the character contribute to the story?

I hope you found this post beneficial to you in whichever format your story takes place. Remember, one of the goals to writing is to have fun!

New Year’s Resolution

I know that New Year’s isn’t for at least another week or so, but I’ve decided on what one of mine is going to be. I would like to have five novels finished by the end of next year. Pretty outragious, right? Here’s the plan, which I think anybody could follow. This is in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, where you create a 50,000 word novel by the end of November) fashion. Here is a rundown of how I planned this to work:

January – I plan on finishing the current novel being worked on by the end of January. If I finish early, I can start planning my February novel.

February – I would start another novel this month, while putting the first on the back burner.

March – March would be the month of editing and revising the novel finished in January. Why do this in March, instead of finishing the project earlier? It give me time to walk away from the novel long enough to read it with a fresh mind to see what needs to be added or deleted from the final manuscript. March will also be the month for publishing the novel and marketing for it.

April – April will be the month to edit and revise February’s novel. By the end of April, there should be enough time to publish and market the second novel.

May – This will be the month for a new novel. By this time I should have two published novels.

June – Yet another new novel with the novel from May on the back burner.

July – Editing and revising May’s novel. Publishing and marketing said novel.

August -Editing and revising June’s novel. Publishing and marketing following.

September – New novel. Have you noticed a pattern, yet?

October – This will actually be the month to plan for NaNoWriMo, with plenty of advice on this blog on how to prepare for the journey of NaNoWriMo. Of course, there will be plenty of advice long before then as well.

November – NaNoWriMo novel. I did this for the first time this year, and I highly recommend it. Joining in on the fun has many perks, including advice from those who have done this challenge before (in the forums) and a new novel for you. You can even do fanfiction for NaNoWriMo, which is a great practice run for any budding novelist. The world, rules and characters of your chosen fanfiction world are already in place, which can also help you figure out how to worldbuild and character build.

December – Editing and revising September’s novel. Publishing and marketing.

As you can see, I have a busy year ahead of me, and I cannot wait to come up with a lot of new worlds! Do you have a crazy schedule for your writing? As you can see with what I’ve come up with, you can also be achieve your goals with a lot of persistence!