Friday, January 15, 2010

Cavewriting

"Before we had the alphabet, we drew to communicate with others." Barry Lane




In
After THE END, author Barry Lane suggests a strategy he calls "cavewriting" as a way to bring our characters to life. He reminds us that drawing pictures is an effective way to utilize a different part of our brains when we write and revise. Whether a great artist or a stick-figure doodler, getting images of characters, thoughts, emotions, questions down on paper is vital to seeing a story as more than words. Here are some suggested cavewriting ideas from After THE END:
  • Cavewrite the big moment
  • Cavewrite the end of the story
  • Cavewrite the moral of the story
  • Cavewrite the central question
  • Cavewrite a snapshot of your MC
  • Cavewrite an explodable moment (maybe include dialogue)
Another interesting strategy he suggests is called "moment mapping". To do this, first make a list of the key moments of your story. Put each moment on its own index card and shuffle them. Arrange the moments in front of you in a variety of different orders. Here, he suggests we take risks and begin in the middle or at the end sometimes. Then, reflect. How did rearranging your moments change your story?

31 comments:

Anna said...

These strategies sound great! I've seen people storyboard their books, but I love the idea of "moment mapping." Thanks for sharing!

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Very cool... It's interesting to me because, though I'm not drawing anything out (I can't even draw stick figures--it's that bad!) But When I outlined my plot and subplots for my new project, I looked at some of the same areas! And I cut out magazine pics of my characters, so there's the snapshot aspect too :-)

Falen said...

This is awesome - i often make my sister draw my characters for me, but i've never really thought of "cavewriting" conflicts or explodable moments. I think i'll try it once the WIP is complete

Southern Princess said...

This is a concept that I adore!
When I worked with animation storyboarding is, well, the key to creation. I would spend days working on thumbnail sketches, shuffle them around and make sure the characters' direction was not too bland. It was simple to see how the conclusion should be in visual form. As for my WIP I have done similar things with a brainstorm cloud for certain scenes. I love the index card idea. Will have to try that... thanks Shannon!

Click to enter My Kingdom!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

This is a great idea, Shannon! Now I just need to find a wall...

Kristi Faith said...

how different. I might have to try that. :0)

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Awesome! I love that and I just got a new sketchbook!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

There are some similar suggestions re: index cards in "From Where You Dream," another good writing book, especially for a longer work like a novel. I am SO not a good artist, though, that I feel like I might get hung up on the imperfections of my stick characters. :) Still, I can see how it would bring the story to life more. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Catherine Denton said...

Oh this sounds fun! I love index cards and stick figures.
Winged Writer

Elle Strauss said...

I thought about story booking my novel, like they do for movies. It's kind of the same idea.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I do the index cards in the moment mapping, but not the drawing. That's an interesting thought. Glad you shared this neat idea.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Interesting! I never do much of this for my characters, but then I have to stay within the framework of history. That tends to dictate some of their personality traits.

However, Book #2 is set so far back in time I have only scant historical documentation of the people. Like they existed. So I might have to think about some of this!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Very interesting! I might have to try this. : )

Have a great weekend!

Simon C. Larter said...

I like the idea of moment mapping. I guess I've been calling it scene-plotting, but that's the way I go about my work. Every story I tell appears in my head in scenes, so that's how I write 'em.

Jonathon Arntson said...

This is , like, really cool! Who knew something so simple could help us overcome struggles as writers? B&N is getting a good commission off my writing already.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Ohhhhh...loving this concept. Although, I'm definitely more of the stick drawing type. In general, I have to label all of my drawings so people know what they are. BUT, how very fun. Even if I have to label my pictures so that when I look back on them I can remember that I was actually trying to draw my MC and not a spotted blob with strings.

Kristi said...

Very cool concept!

Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!!!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You guys are great! Thanks for all the comments. I love them!

If you try these strategies, come back and let me know how they work. :-)

Bethany Mattingly said...

Oh, I like the idea of drawing everything out. I might just do this for fun. :)

Elana Johnson said...

I'm so getting this book. I need all the help I can get when revising.

Thanks!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Elana - DO GET IT! There are many revision strategies in there. It's geared toward teachers, but it's still great stuff.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Thanks. This makes sense to me. I doodle, sketch, and can picture the scenes. I also like the idea of shuffling the life moments around. I'm feeling reflective today and want to apply it to my life.

Michelle Gregory said...

i've never even heard of this. might have to try it.

Cuppa Jolie said...

Really interesting, Shannon! Thanks for sharing.

(I grew up in MT. Would love to know where you're from.) :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Very interesting ideas - and new to me. I'll have to give it a shot :)

Lisa and Laura said...

Such an interesting idea. I've never considered doing something like this before!

Terresa said...

Great ideas, here. Moment mapping, cavewriting, I like it, I'll try it!

Kelly said...

I have never even thought of sketching out the plot! Very intriguing idea! Thanks for the great strategies!!!

Daisy Whitney said...

I love hearing about different writing suggestions like this and reading a book aloud or even recording yourself reading it. There are so many good techniques we can employ to make our stories stronger!

Robyn Campbell said...

Hey ya Shannon. I've never tried these exact strategies however, I have thought about starting in the middle of my new WIP just to give it and me a KICK. I'll have to try these.

I'm unplugging next week(need the time to prepare to query)so I'll see you the week after. :-)Be safe and write on!!

Jen Chandler said...

These are great ideas! Now I wish I could draw a comic of my story. That would be fun!! Alas, all my characters would be stick figures. Not very dramatic!

Jen

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