Participating in Clarion West Writeathon

This week starts the Clarion West Writeathon and it’s been great fun participating in this event so far.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be using this Writeathon to kickstart my next Science Fiction novel. I’ve managed 2000 words so far. It’s always a bit rocky to start a new story, but this one is flowing well so far.

It’s also interesting to see how the story drifts from the outline here and there. All the upfront planning is great, but at times, the story has to tell itself. Those revelations are as exciting to the writer as they hopefully are to the readers!


Crafting a story with Mindmaps

My latest endeavor is to sketch out my next novel with the help of a mindmap. I do most of my writing on a Linux netbook, so I hunted down Xmind as a free mindmap application. Mindmaps, if you haven’t worked with them before, let you brainstorm ideas in a visual way. Think of an org chart, and you get an idea of where it can go. There are other core templates or structures to use.

So far, I’ve used the org chart template to flesh out my main characters (Terran, Novan, and others). I list the person and their main role. Then I add notes for physical, emotional states etc( your basic character sketch.

The second map uses the timeline template to lay out the main story arcs. I will eventually use this to drive the chapters. Since you can collapse subtopics in a map, I could outline the entire novel this way. We’ll see how it goes after the first few maps are fleshed out!

Analyzing fiction

I’ve been thinking about ways I can improve my writing. One thing I recall another author did was to sit down and deeply analyze a book or three from her favorite authors. This would involve not just plot, but characterization, pacing, theme, description, etc.

That’s something I’d like to do this year. But before I did into the full book deep dive, I want to try my own twist on that idea. I enjoy the kindle app on all my online toys. So combining the two, this is what I’m gonna try:

  • pick an author
  • download a sample chapter on kindle
  • use highlights and notes to analyze description and characterization
  • repeat for three other books (of different authors)

I hope to learn a few things with this approach. Not only get some ideas of how other authors start their stories, but learn from that, and learn how well kindle works as an analyzing tool. Could I then use it for a full book analysis? Would be easier than highlighting a paperback with markers 🙂

Anyway, starting out with one of Bujold’s Vorkosigan books. Will letcha know how it goes.