Thursday, January 27, 2011

Finding WWWWH and More Through Clustering

WWWWH = Who, What, When, Where and How.

Have you ever....
  • Started a story only to stall out after 10,000 words?

  • Finished a story only to find out your character is so shallow a child could dig her grave?

Are you writing a story that has a lot of conflict, but no CONFLICT?

Do you want to give your villain a secret that raises the stakes?

If you are right-brained (take a quiz here), then clustering will feel utterly natural. If you are left brained, clustering might be more difficult. You may feel the urge to divert to organized lists instead of messy bubbles and lines. But just give it a try - I think you'll be amazed!

When I took the above quiz, my results showed I am 58% right brained. I studied Art in university....Alongside Stats, Finance, Accounting....Maybe this is why I feel comfortable with lists and bubbles?

Anyway. How can clustering help fix your story?

I was amazed at how quickly this method found the coolest plot twists and secrets!

Here's how it works: Write a word in the middle of a page along with a few descriptive words. If you are looking at the whole picture first (i.e. your whole novel), write the title of your novel, along with a simple logline that describes your plot.

Example: RESET: A young woman must discover a secret past.

And yes, draw a bubble around it (left brainers who need neatness might make these bubbles symmetrical rectangles - that's okay!)

Now, the fun part...

Start asking questions! About your protagonist, your villain, the setting...

Draw bubbles around each answer and connect bubbles with subsequent answers to the "subject cluster". I got so into this that I began separate pages for EVERY little thing. And I am uncovering new stuff with every question I ask!

What questions do you ask?

You can start small, if you're having trouble. For instance, one of the questions I asked about my hero was "what does he like to eat", when I wrote the answer "very rare steak" it lead to a bunch of other questions and voila - he has an intriguing secret (NOT telling!)

So, go ahead and have fun with this. It's such an awesome tool, I can't believe I shied away from it before. Must have been the 42% left brain in me!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds awesome! I did something like this with a white board and seeing all out of my brain and onto something else in some sort of order was so enlightening :) Thanks for the link too, going to go test my brain now.