So apparently now I’m a PLOTTER?!? (And 5 reasons I’m okay with that)

Fellow friends, writers, bloggers, readers.  I regret to announce that this is the death of Ever-The-Pantser-Beth.  I am no longer a person who writes with no abandon and no outline.

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Just… take a look at this screenshot below.  You know what this is?  It’s an… an… *whispers* an outline for my WIP.  *GASP*

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So, yeah.  I’m now a plotter.  Well, sorta.  Here’s the thing about re-writes: it’s kinda important to have some idea where your story is going by the time you’re in the 2nd draft of a novel.  So, with this 2nd draft, I’m finally keeping an outline-type thing.  And I really like this format.  It’s just a Google doc.  (For the record, the document’s official title is “Dragon Story Brain Dump.”  Because I refuse to officially have an “outline” for my novel lol.)  Here’s some reasons why I’ve really been enjoying this method of “outlining.”

1. It’s so flexible.

And as I go through the story, I can add notes and questions and details.  Nothing is set in stone, because the outline is literally just bullet points and sub-points.  In the past, I’ve tried out Scrivener and other similar plotting software, and I found they were too much for me.  It took too long to organize my notes, so I felt like I lost time when I was trying to use them to plot my story.  (To be clear, lots of writers adore Scrivener and other programs.  But they’re not for everyone.)  A simple Google doc is easy to edit and re-arrange, and I can see my whole plot at once.  I can add in as much detail as I want to, and it doesn’t bog down the flow of the outline.

2. It’s not intimidating.

My lil Google doc with its silly name is inviting, simple, and streamlined.  It doesn’t feel like an official outline, so it doesn’t feel like it has to be perfect.  I can use abbreviations and question marks, and no one cares.  It’s fun to use, and it’s fun to see my plot coming together as I work through this draft of my WIP.

3. It’s not distracting.

Some of the nifty plotting softwares I’ve used, such as Scriviner and Scrapple, simply have too many features.  I get distracted by changing font colors and dotted lines and labeling everything correctly and it’s just too much.  My Google doc doesn’t have any bells and whistles.  It’s just a word-doc.  It serves its purpose perfectly, and I don’t get distracted by any extra features.  I have more time for writing and actually getting stuff done.

4. I can access it whenever.

Since it’s a Google doc, I can access it from anywhere I have internet.  I can also access it from my phone any time, so no matter where I am, I can grab my phone and jot down some ideas.  I love having my plot in my pocket everywhere I go.

5. Everything is in one place.

Along with a plot outline, this document is also the place where I’ve been keeping notes on my novel’s world, magic system, and magical creatures.  I also have sections for characters, potion recipes, and places that characters visit.  It’s just so nice to have EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE.  It helps me avoid continuity errors, and it helps me easily find information.  (That way I’m not spending ten minutes searching through a chapter to find that one obscure spell that I forgot.)

ALRIGHTY, FOLKS.  I’m off to go write, with my nifty outline Google document to assist me.

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Happy December!

How did it get to be December 2nd already?

Ah, look at that.  The Hamilton Mixtape is out today!

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In other news, another NaNoWriMo is here and gone.  Nope, I didn’t win this year.  Didn’t even come close.  But I’m A-OK with that.  I started a story that needed to be written, and I’m so excited to see where it’s taking me.  I’m back in The Writing Mode, which is the best place to be.  I’m editing and writing and excited to start querying again after the holidays.  (Most literary agencies close up shop in December and January because it’s such a crazy time of year.)

Also, here’s another fun writerly-resource that I stumbled across: it’s called Scapple.  It’s a plotting program made by the same people who made Scrivener.  Basically, it’s a plotting tool where you can outline events or characters and connect them and move them around and add notes about them.  And like Scriviner, it has a 30 day free trial.  (30 days of use, not 30 consecutive days.)  AND I LOVE IT.  I’m too much of an anti-plotter (pantser at heart, you guys) to stick to traditional outlines.  But I’m writing a series now and I really kinda need to know what’s happening when.  So Scapple has been wonderful and freeing. (I’m not getting paid to promote it or anything.  I just think it’s super cool.)  Here’s an example of what it can look like:

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Here’s the actual plotting I’ve done on it:

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I really like it.  And I really like where this story is going.  It’s like I’m getting deeper and deeper into this world, discovering the heart of this series’ story.  The different story plots are weaving together and I’m madly in love.  Gotta go do some writing.  I have one week of classes left, and then I’ll have free days and late nights for hot cocoa and good books and writing.

Happy December everyone.  Turn on some Christmas music and write some words.  You never know the power your story has to change someone’s life.

NaNoPrep – Part 2

Okay, so NaNoWriMo is three days away.  If you’re like me, and you’re a hopeless Pantser and Procrastinator, then these-last minute tips are for you.  (I like to tell people I put the Pro in Procrastination.)

1. Stockpile Halloween Candy.

There’s nothing like a Kit-Kat staring you down as you try to write the next 500 words.  My personal favorite for writing is Twizzlers.  I’m pretty sure I consumed like 100 Twizzlers in the first week of NaNo last year.  But hey, if that’s what it takes….

2.  Check out the forums.

I especially recommend this forum, which is for word sprints, challenges, and word-wars.  Pretty sure that word-wars are the greatest things in the universe.  My competitive nature takes over and forces me to write faster than humanly possible.  Word sprints are also great.  (Why do you write like you’re running out of time?  CAUSE I LITERALLY AM.)

But there are forums for basically everything nano-related.  Adopt-a-character, help with outlining, advice on life with NaNo… it’s a glorious black hole of information.

3.  If you can, find people in your area.

Join your region forum, and then see if anyone’s organizing write-ins near you.  I went to a bunch of write-ins last year, and they were amazing.  Like so darn cool.  And if no one’s organized a write-in in your area already, organize one yourself!  Otherwise, at least see if you can drag a creative friend to Starbucks for a few hours.  Their job is to make sure you write the whole time you’re there.

4.  Do SOME Planning.

I’m pretty much a Panster, but I do wholeheartedly suggest that you do some sort of planning.  Not necessarily plotting, but planning.  Maybe you want to figure out your main character’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.  Maybe draw what your characters look like with colored pencils. Or plan your opening scene.  Or maybe plan how you want your story to end.  Or stockpile names for characters, explore your magic system, or come up with your villain’s catchphrase.  Do something.  Get your creative juices flowing.

Here’s a good blog post if you need help with basic plotting: 5 Secret Steps to Story Building.

If you’re looking for an epic overview of different ways to outline, try this insane blog post: How to Outline… (warning: language in that post.  But worth it ’cause it’s awesome.)

5.  Stock up on Sleep.  Sleep while you can.  Get all the Sleep.  Because come November, you’ll need it.

 

Good luck to everyone embarking on NaNoWriMo, whether it’s your first year or tenth!  You are gonna do great!  See you in November.

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NaNoPrep – Part 1

Today’s blog post will be Part 1 of the last-minute NaNoPrep I’m frantically starting a week before November 1st.

Here’s some things I’ve done that I highly suggest:

1.  Create a Playlist

Complete with Two Steps from Hell, Audiomachine, LOTR soundtrack, and a touch of Hamilton, I have a playlist titled “NaNo2016.”  Also there might be a couple of Disney songs.  I mean, “Go the Distance” from Hercules, and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan seem appropriate for a month of noveling craziness.  You can check it out here if you’re interested.

2.  Get to Know Some Characters/ Places.

I may or may not have created Pinterest Boards for some of my characters.  And my main setting.  Ooopsy.  It’s actually pretty awesome, because now I can visualize them.  Being able to see characters dress is one of my favorite prep mechanisms.  Also, Pinterest is an amazing way to procrastinate when you have homework due in a few short hours.

3.  Post on Facebook, Instagram, and other places.  Annoy everyone you know.  Tell them all about your noveling endeavor.

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NaNoPrep Part 2 will be coming later this week.

Start stockpiling candy and caffeine, folks.  November is coming.

Some Late Night Ramblings on Character Development.

It’s October 1st.IMAG1488

The leaves on the trees are turning red brown.

There’s a chill in the air.

Fuzzy slippers and hot cocoa are calling my name.

Oh, and NaNoWriMo is a month away.

But that’s just a side note.

What I really want to talk about today is character development.

My characters for my NaNoNovel are all coming together in bits and pieces.

Here’s five things I’m focusing on for each one right now:

  1. Their name.  Okay, yes, it’s sad: I don’t have a name for any of my characters yet.  Okay, I have ONE name.  But the rest are just “the MC” or “The MC’s Friend #1.”  I have a feeling I will spend some time prowling around the Appellation Station forum.
  2. Their backstory.  Obviously, it’s important to know where my characters are coming from.  How their parents act.  Who their friends are.  What their life experience is.  Who they are before page 1.
  3. What they’d wear.  This may seem a bit strange, but I’m really having fun with this.  When we meet someone for the first time in real life, we judge them by what they wear.  And even after that, the way they dress says a lot about someone.  Obviously, I care a lot more about who my friends are on the INSIDE, but how they present themselves on the outside sometimes reflects a part of their personality.  I’ve gone online and printed out some pictures of clothing different people would wear.  So that when I go to write them, I can visualize.
  4. How they talk.  I’ve had issues in the past with wanting to introduce a character but just not being sure how they should sound.  Not every character needs to have a specific “dialect” or “accent” (wher ye’ write all da werds like dis ta convey how dey’s tawking).  However, I do find it helpful to be able to hear a character’s voice in my head.  Is his voice deep?  Does she giggle a lot?  Does he curse?  Does she babble?  Does he say “Aw, man!” all the time?  Knowing how my characters are going to sound ahead of time lets me write dialogue without even thinking.
  5. Their place in the story.  I’ve developed three main supporting characters already (not to mention the antag and another side character).  What is each character there for?  How do they meet the protag?  How do they get along with each other?  Does this character add tension?  Will they surprise the reader?

What are you guys up to this next month?