Category Archives: Writing Resources

Writing Rules? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Rules! – Helping Writers Become Authors

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Writing Rules? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Rules! – Helping Writers Become Authors.

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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Writing, Writing Resources


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Structure, plotting, and beats oh my

What was I thinking when I signed up for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo? I was already working on a novel. I had already plotted the beginning, middle, and end…Along with the catalyst, the midpoint, the darkest moment, and the B-Story. I know, I lost my ever loving mind. I just lost it! So I decide to plot a completely different novel for Camp NaNo (April) and get most of it in my project in Scrivener, and at the last minute an idea hits me like a ton of bricks! WHOA!

Stop! So I’m working on the structure for that one. Plotting. Reading about plotting, structure, Saving the Cat, and beats…WHAT!?! Somebody has to save a cat? No, no…that’s just the hook…Oh, okay. I got it now. Back to plotting. Back to the dreaded outline. And outlines are not my cup of coffee, they never have been. I spent my first NaNo as a pantster. Then I became a plotster. I tried so hard to be a plotter, but I just get bored with that much detail being put into an outline–I’m long-winded, my outlines don’t look like outlines–No, they look like condensed essays or summaries, a few even look like short stories. And I’ve went through stacks upon stacks of index cards because there just isn’t enough room on one to write it all down.

CUT! Cut! I said cut! Okay, so that type of outlining doesn’t work for me. I wish like hell it did, but it doesn’t. So I condense my index cards to three-four word sentences, or phrases. And the whole while my inner editor, bitch that she is, is screaming. I can hear her as I write those short sentences or phrases. I finally yell back, “It’s just a friggin’ outline!” Okay, I feel better now.

I’ve looked at way too many beat sheets. One too many writing resources about structure. It’s all starting to run together. I go back to the Cat. 15 beats. Only when I look at the list I automatically want to convert the pages for the screenplay into novel pages. Where does the inciting incident go in a novel? Where is that rascally rabbit called the First Plot Point and where does he go? My goodness, don’t forget about the Set Up. So I read some more. Found examples. And wouldn’t you know I found this great post about Harry Potter and structure. Complete with diagrams, percentages, and examples that my overloaded plotster brain can comprehend. If you want to check it out here’s the link. Hell, I even printed out one of the diagrams so I could compare it to the book, which meant I could read the Harry Potter series all over again. (Yes, I realize I’m 46 years old and a grandmother and a wife and a mother and…Reading Harry Potter gave me the same feeling I got the first time I read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia–yes, I’ve reread the series as an adult but  alas my big book is gone and I need to get another–insert extremely sad face here). So on top of trying to write 50K for Camp NaNo, reading several books on structure, along with writing in general, I am also rereading the Harry Potter series. And to be honest, each time I reach my goal I give myself permission to read two-three chapters from Harry Potter, otherwise I’d be curled up on my couch all day reading about Harry’s adventures and my novel for Camp NaNo would develop virtual cobwebs. Last NaNo I rewarded myself with an episode of Supernatural (I was catching up on missed episodes), along with copious amounts of dark chocolate. I’ve done better this time about limiting my amount of chocolate, but I can’t say the same about my reading for pleasure.


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Plot, Conflict, and Outline

I’ve been working on character, plotting, and setup for the first part of my novel (which has 4 parts: Part 1 is Setup (of course), Part 2 is Response, Part 3 is Attack, and Part 4 is Resolution, which I got from the book “Story Engineering” by Larry Brooks.


Part1: the Setup of my novel, which is called Blue Moon (that is definitely subject to change and probably will), should introduce the reader to hero and what is going on in the hero’s life (backstory, character empathy, what is at stake, what the hero needs in her life, what “trials and tribulations and opportunities” she is “facing before the arrival of the primary conflict” so that the reader cares about what is going on with the hero.

So my first 4-5 chapters are all about the Setup and right now I’m debating on whether to name my chapters or not. To name or not to name?  That is the question.

In chapter 1, the  reader finds out that my character Jynx was orphaned as a child and went to live with her fanatically religious aunt Avena when she was seven years old. Her parents were killed in a plane crash. She wanted to go live with her uncle Bourne who has spent time with her, but her aunt, whom she’s never met, gets custody of her and raises her. We get a glimpse of how much of a zealot the aunt is when Jynx receives a letter from a lawyer stating that requests her presence at her uncle’s funeral and for a reading of his will–she calls her aunt and finds out that the aunt refuses to go to her own brother’s funeral because he was a heathen. We learn that Jynx has psychic abilities and that she hid them from her aunt.

In chapter 2, Jynx moves into her uncle’s home and learns that her uncle, along with her mother and grandmother, were all psychics, which is why her aunt disowned them–they were sinners, psychic ability=sinner/satan. She figures out that her aunt raised her to keep her away from her uncle because her aunt thought that her uncle would corrupt her with his “demon” powers and that her aunt thought she might develop them, especially if she were around him. She wonders why her aunt didn’t have psychic abilities if they run in her family.  She also wonders why her uncle, who was a lawyer, didn’t fight for custody of her instead of allowing her to live with Avena.  Her uncle owned the bookstore in town, which is now Jynx’s, and Jynx wonders what to do with it. Should she sell it? Run it?

In chapter 3, Jynx meets a few of the town’s people, including the librarian Carita who was friends with Jynx’s mother. Carita is Jynx’s godmother and has a box of letters that she wrote to Jynx but that Avena returned to sender. Carita knows about the psychic abilities that run in Jynx’s family, and is willing to teach Jynx how to use and manage hers….

So I’m wondering if I should name my chapters…And if so, how do I decide what to name them? Something to think about and research as I continue to plot my novel for NaNoWriMo.


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Part of my routine each day is to check out my WP reader, FB, email, and the news. Yesterday (or maybe it was the day before) I found a post entitled 10 NaNoWriMo tips & tricks. In the post she gives a shout out to Rainy Moods and I’m now a fan and am hooked. Even my husband, who doesn’t write but is a musician, loves it. We fell asleep to the sound of rain last night and it wasn’t raining here.  I’m picky about listening to music when I write–most music distracts me so I often listen to classical, movie soundtracks (the songs that don’t having vocals), that kind of thing. Now I feel like I’ve found the perfect music for the mood I’ll need for this novel. Yesterday evening I was telling my daughter about the character I’ve chosen for my NaNo novel. Her name is Jynx and she’s a 25 year old graduate student. My daughter asked me what color her hair was, and I told her black or red, and she has gray eyes. My daughter said, “You should give her violet hair. Dark purple.” And you know what, she’s right. I thought about for a minute and nodded to my daughter. So now I’m on the hunt for a picture that comes close to what I feel like the character looks like. (Thank goodness for google, creative commons, and pinterest.)

One of the first things I do in the morning is make coffee. I normally drink coffee out of the Goofy cup my brother gave me. (This morning I’m having coffee with spiced pumpkin creamer–Oh, it’s so good!) I take a shower while the coffee is brewing–on a good morning my husband and I take our shower together, and come next week he’ll be back on the road so I won’t see him but on the weekends–FROWN! I open Word Press, Facebook, and my email account. I check all  of those. Then I either write a blog post or wait until later on in the day (some days I go straight to my novel).

Funny thing about routines is that once you get used to them it feels weird when you do something different. Lately I’ve been working on the outline for my NaNo novel instead of working on the current WIP and I’ve been reading Larry Brooks‘ book “Story Engineering.” For Camp NaNo in April, I read several books beforehand. My favorite Stephen King’sOn Writing,” Baty’s “No Plot? No Problem!” and “Ready, Set, Novel!” as well as quite a few others like “Creative Writing,” “Finding your Muse,” “Rock Your Plot” by Cathy Yardley, “Write Good or Die,” and “You’ve Got a Book in You.” Finding out what works for you when writing is important. I am more of a pantser than a plotter. Lately I’ve become a plotster because I’m determined to have less writer’s block, more writing time. I got stuck at the midpoint of my novel–not a good thing when you have a deadline.

So now, I’m working on getting my routine in order for NaNoWriMo. It’s getting closer and closer and I’d like to have my outline and character outlines finished before it starts.


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6 Rules for a Great Story from Barnaby Conrad and Snoopy | Brain Pickings

6 Rules for a Great Story from Barnaby Conrad and Snoopy | Brain Pickings.

I’m a huge fan of Snoopy and Woodstock. Always have been. When I came across this post on a blog I couldn’t help but smile, especially since I remember reading Snoopy’s books, and watching Charlie Brown as a child. “It was a dark and stormy night…”

I’ve been looking up writing resources in preparation for NaNoWriMo and I”m glad I came across this one.

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Posted by on October 12, 2013 in Writing, Writing Resources


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