Sunday 22 December 2019

Everything's Connected - Heather Dyer

This plotting exercise was inspired by Rory’s Story Cubes, a children’s story-generating game. No cubes necessary here, however. 

I've tried this on my own children's-book-in-progress, and also with PhD students working on their theses. There's no reason why you couldn't use it on any sort of project. 
  1. Quite quickly, write down 20 words associated with your project. Write them down in two adjacent columns of 10.
  2.  Now draw random lines linking pairs of words in each column.
  3. Freewrite (or make notes or just reflect) on the connections between the words.
Creativity is about making new connections between previously unconnected ideas. When I used this exercise in a workshop for PhD students, a dance student connected the words ‘dance’ and ‘movement’. She said that freewriting on the relationship between these words had, for the first time, made her really reflect on how they differed. ‘Dance’ is defined and shaped by convention, whereas ‘movement’ is more fluid.

You can modify this exercise by listing characters in a story in order to explore the relationships between them. You might be surprised by the connections that can arise between characters you previously didn't think had much to do with one another. 

Heather Dyer is a consultant in writing for children. She provides writing and publishing advice through The Literary ConsultancyThe Writers' Advice Centre for Children's Books, and privately. If you’re ready for feedback on your work-in-progress contact Heather at

Heather’s children’s novel The Girl with the Broken Wing was one of Richard and Judy’s book club picks, and The Boy in the Biscuit Tin was nominated for a Galaxy Best British Children’s Book award. Heather also teaches creative writing for the University of the Creative Arts, and facilitates workshops in creative thinking techniques for creatives and academics.



Anne Booth said...

This is really helpful. I think I will do it for the current book I am working on. Happy Christmas!

Heather Dyer said...

Thanks Anne - and good luck!