October 20, 2014
Let’s do a mini prompt?

Last week we did setting, so this week, let’s do quick plots. Keep in mind that no matter how complicated your story is, it falls into one of 9 basic story types. (For example, we have “A stranger comes to town,” and “Someone comes home” as a couple of them.)

So let’s take your story and boil it down the basics. No names, no descriptions, just tell us what your story is about. Here’s the quick rundown of my NaNo project, “God’s Engineer”

Man gets exiled from all known human space. Man meets a strange creature called The Engineer. (Honestly I’m not sure what happens after that.)

There’s your mini prompt, good luck.

October 15, 2014
Put some meat on the bones of your story

Here’s a response to a suggestion from duskborne wondering how to flesh out a story idea.

Figure out what’s important in your story

I can hear the questions now-“I know my story idea, why are you asking that kind of a question in a post about fleshing out a story?”

It’s simple. If you don’t know what’s important in your story, how are you going to know where to focus? Consider all the directions your story could go. (Let’s take a simple boy meets girl story, but feel free to adapt the question for your own particular story.)

Directions you could go with boy meets girl story (abridged)

  1. Boy is hired to kill girl, but falls in love.(or the reverse)
  2. Girl meets boy who tries to save her life.
  3. Boy meets girl and falls in love with her brother
  4. Girl meets boy and helps him discover his true calling as a pop star in a boy band.
  5. Boy meets girl and takes her on an adventure in time and space.
  6. (You get the idea hopefully)

Those are all directions you could go with just one simple idea so you can see why it’s important to know what you are trying to accomplish. You have a month, so there isn’t time to play around with ideas.

Here are some questions to help you get a grasp of what is important in your story

  1. What goal are your main characters trying to accomplish in this story?
  2. What are the obstacles?
  3. What are some ideas you have that aren’t really important in this particular story?

Let do some weeding

Now that you have a clearer idea of what your story is about, it is time to get rid of the clutter. Sure there are some great ideas in that clutter, but now is the time to find them, put them on your list of great ideas, and save them for later.

You are going to need some side plots and maybe some “filler” but no matter what you put in your story, it should add to the whole of the story and move the plot forward. If it doesn’t, it should probably get out of your story.

Let’s add some stuff

Now that you have whittled your story down to the essence, it’s time to figure out what you need to add to your story. Here are some questions to help you with that process:

  1. Who are your characters going to be by the end of the story?
  2. What do your characters need to do/accomplish in order to be where they need to be by then?
  3. What minor characters do you need in your story?
  4. Where does your story need to end? (location)
  5. How are your characters going to get there?

Hopefully that gives you some ideas on how to flesh out your story. November and National Novel Writing Month are quickly approaching so get ready. If you have more questions, let us know.

October 8, 2014
Let’s put together a rough idea!

Let’s start simply and create a simple idea for a story. (We’ll flesh it out more next week.)

  1. Create a character including:
  • Age, sex, gender, sexuality, hair/eye/skin color, height, weight
  • Favorites-color, shape, food, song, dance move, etc
  • Family-parents, siblings, etc

Now that you have your character, figure out what they want.

  • What do they have to do to get what they want?
  • What is stopping them?
  • Who do they have in their life that can help them?
  • Who do they have in their life that is stopping them?

This should give the a decent start for a story. We’ll talk more about it next Wednesday.

September 28, 2014
October is approaching fast! Do you know what that mean?

It’s time to start thinking about NaNoWriMo if you haven’t already. Camille and I are making preparations for the 2000 follower giveaway/contest, and thinking about ideas for articles and posts we can put together.

It’s also time to see if anyone wants to share their experiences or wisdom about participating in National Novel Writing Month. If you do, send us a message with the following information:

  • How long you’ve done NaNo
  • Your topic
  • 3 points you want to make
  • why are you the person to write this?

We’ll look over your idea and be in touch. Remember there are all kinds of topics and they can have to do with any of the following:

  • Getting your story ready (plot, characters, antagonists, world building, etc)
  • motivation to keep writing
  • tricks you have used in the past
  • plot twists

There are plenty of more ideas you can use too. So let us know if you want to get your post on Writrs!

January 19, 2014
How a Good Editor Amplifies Your Voice



The “Now What?” Months are here! In 2014, we’ll be bringing you advice from authors who published their NaNo-novels, editors, agents, and more to help you polish November’s first draft until it gleams. Author of Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Tilia Jacobs explains why you can’t write a novel by yourself… and how to find the right editor:

You need an editor. That story of yours? That you love, that carry around all day and take to bed at night; that story that made you a novelist?

It’s lost.

Well, not lost. Buried. In your manuscript, deep within the jumble of exuberant mediocrity that is a one-month first draft. Fortunately, you know that no one writes a book alone. Witness the acknowledgements section of many a novel; a good editor is a story-magician. But how to find one? And work with one?

Read More

Since I’m currently editing something, this was a good way to flip my perspective a bit - how is my writer going to interpret my edits?

Also, pay attention to this advice — DON’T try and edit your own work. 

December 1, 2013
Our final Word Wars! How did you do?

This is just to check in on how your NaNo went. There is no judgment or gloating please. We each have our own NaNo journey, and not all of them end at 50k.

Let’s share our final word count and celebrate together.

November 30, 2013
On the last day on NaNo Writrs gave to me…

A tidbit from my college Intro to Fiction textbook:

Is there something I can do to make this job less horrific? Is there a trick to unlocking my words?

The variety of authors’ habits suggest that there is no magic to be found in any particular one. Donald Hall will tell you that he spends a dozen hours a day at his desk, moving back and forth between as many projects as he can. Philip Larkin said that he wrote a poem every eighteen months or so and never tried to write one that was not a gift. Gail Goodwin goes to her workroom every day “because what if an angel came and I was not there?” Julia Alvarez begins every day by reading first poetry, then prose by her favorite writers to remind herself of the quality of writing she is aiming for.

Like Hemingway, the late Andre Dubus advised students to stop writing mid-sentence in order to begin the next day with the challenge of completing the thought, thereby reentering their creative flow more easily. Dickens could not deal with people when he was working: “The mere consciousness of an engagement will worry a whole day.” Thomas Wolfe always wrote standing up.

Some writers can plop at the kitchen counter without clearing the breakfast dishes; others need total seclusion, a beach, a cat, or a string quartet […] If jogging after breakfast energizes your mind, then jog before you sit. If you have to pull an all-nighter on a coffee binge, do that. Some schedule, regularity, pattern in your writing will always help, but only you can figure out what that pattern is for you.

—Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (Seventh Edition),
By Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French

The gift that National Novel Writing Month gives you whether you “won” or not is that you now have words on your page, and a sense of how they got there. You now know what works and what doesn’t work for you in terms of getting the job done.

It is your choice now whether or not you will sit down every day in 2014 and continue to write bit by bit until you get where you are going, or if you will wait for the motivation of next November (or for Camp NaNo in the summer) and drill through another 30 days straight.

As always: Happy Writing,

November 25, 2013
Holy Activity Decline Batman!
Hoping this is just you writrs keeping busy to finish your NaNo novels! Don’t forget if you have any writing questions or need some advice about your story our askbox is always open!

Holy Activity Decline Batman!

Hoping this is just you writrs keeping busy to finish your NaNo novels! Don’t forget if you have any writing questions or need some advice about your story our askbox is always open!

12:42pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZIcQdw-PcnlI
Filed under: NaNoWriMo Writrs 
November 24, 2013
This is your last week, make it count!

3:18pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZIcQdw-KIXUD
Filed under: NaNoWriMo 
November 19, 2013
Some encouragement from author Donna Steele

Okay, we’re more than half way there and your word count is not where you wanted it to be. Join the club–no really you’re not alone there. The thing is, if you quit, I’ll never get to read your story. Think about that.

 You’ve fallen behind, real life has intruded, and the kid spilled juice over your keyboard. Okay not that bad, but you’re ready to throw up your hands. Been there. But that happened behind you, now we have to face forward again, pull up our big girl panties and get back on track.      

It’s not easy (and childbirth is not just pressure–see I’m not lying to you) but you can do it. Go shut yourself away for ten minutes (bathrooms work) and think about that last scene you were able to get down. Feel it, live it, visualize it and make it come alive in you again.

You know what happens next. But you’re shut up in the bathroom, so just sit there and let it play out in your mind. No pencil, no keyboard, visualize it. No one knows these characters like you do, let them play. If they zig left and away from the story, let them go for it. This is their freedom, you’re just watching.

This is something I do all the time, not just for NaNoWriMo. When I go to bed at night I run that scene through again and set it in my mind. I feel like I’m slipping a cassette into the VCR (I’m old, I understand that technology better) and just watch. It’s amazing how freeing that is. I’m not writing, I’m literally letting them play. They need that since I had them harnessed to my story all day. They need to stretch their legs. The first thing in the morning, before the alarm goes off and ruins it is another good time (probably best for Saturday or Sunday). This also works great for when I’m stuck. These characters can come up with great ideas too, you know, if you’ve made them real enough.

Your mind is working all the time, whether you’re conscious of it is another thing. I was recently on a long car trip. I told myself before I started the engine for the return trip that I wanted to write a Christmas story, just a short little thing, for this year. That’s all I thought. Seven hours later when I got home, I had a story mostly written in the back of my mind. It’ll be published this holiday season – Nowhere for Christmas. It didn’t write itself, I wrote it, but it’s because I let them play the whole time I was in the car.

Another trick I use when I’m stuck is to rewrite the scene in a different POV. He sees things a lot differently than she does. Use that, get it down. You don’t have to decide which to use right now, so write them both. He might have noticed things she missed entirely and ramp the story up a notch or two. I tend to write my manuscripts in one POV. Then when I’m “finished” I write the other person. Seeing it from both sides adds a lot of depth and layers to the scene. He might not notice or care if the curtains are drawn, but she’s not going to do anything the neighbors might see. Same setting, same people, totally different scene.   

You’ve got tricks too whether you realize it or not. Share them (in December after you’ve finished this book) and try someone else’s idea. There’s no right way to do this, only what works for you.

Big girl panties on straight? Get back to it! My TBR pile is calling you…

Stop by and see me!  www.steelestories.com – you can check out the blurb for Nowhere for Christmas there.


November 17, 2013
Help! My story is almost done and my plan is almost used up!

We’re past the half way point, and some of you might be worried about your word goal because you’ve already written most of your story and you still have a long way to go in order to reach 50k.

That’s precisely where I was three years ago. It was my first NaNo, and my life was pretty crazy. My neice was born on the 10th, (Happy Birthday Faith Marye) and I had come to the point where I realized that I didn’t know how I was going to catch up on my word count, and I had no idea what I was going to do with the 20k+ words I had left to fill.

So I quit.

Remember that Camille and I have been generating that last couple of years, and I didn’t have the experience to say that it could be done. (and yes it can be done.)

So this year, I decided to go back to that first story and finish it. I was referencing what I had written before, but just to reference because I thought the story was good already. and then I got to that point in the story and I was a little worried how I was going to finish the story and generate more words, but then I took a moment to dig into my understanding of writing.

So here are some ways that you can stretch out your story and keep it moving right along.

  • Split your characters up At its heart, my story is a buddy cop story, so what better way to generate more story than to see what your characters do when they are on their own? Don’t worry about  bringing them back together, you’ll figure that out too.
  • Introduce someone new New characters provide new dynamics to your story. How will your characters relate to this new person? What kinds of conflicts will be created because of your outsider?
  • Throw in a plot twist If needed, you can create an even more complex twist into your story. We’ve been posting a plot twist every Thursday, but here are a few ideas for you to consider. Someone gets arrested. Someone wins the lotto. Someone gets attacked. Someone has to go to the hospital.
  • Write out your story so far and see if there’s anything you missed. Get a note pad and write down a summery of every chapter in your book. Is there something you can insert into the story? If so, go back and write that chapter. Once you do, you may find that your story still has lots of life in it.

There are a few ideas for you to try. If you need more help, let us know. Camille and I are always happy to help.

November 12, 2013
Pep Talk from Jennifer Blanchard

Day 12—how’s your word count? Have you managed to stay on track? It’s really important to keep up during the early days of the challenge when you have the most energy and enthusiasm.

Another thing that’s really important to do early on is turn off your inner editor.

You know all about the inner editor—It’s that voice inside your head. It tells you that what you’re writing sucks or that you’re not good enough or that you can’t do this. It’s the voice that tells you that you should go back and fix everything.

It can be very difficult to turn this voice off, since it’s always in your head.

But you can do your best to ignore the voice and forge ahead, no matter what it’s telling you.

Truth be told, you are in control of your thoughts, not the other way around. Which means you can control your inner editor. You can tell it to shut up and choose to ignore it, rather than feed into its lies.

An inner editor is basically just a lack of confidence.

When you’re feeling confident, writing is no problem. You can easily type your daily 1,667 words without a care in the world.

But when your confidence is missing, that’s when the inner editor rears its ugly head. 

That’s why you have to do everything in your power to remain confident, in order to keep your inner editor at bay.

Here are some tips to help you do so:

·         Think back to a time when you accomplished a writing task. Remember what it felt like when you hit that writing goal. Remembering that you did it before will help you do it again.

·         Use the voice recorder on your cell phone (or a handheld recorder if your phone doesn’t have one) and record yourself a little pep talk. Play it back to yourself whenever you need a confidence boost.

·         Close your eyes and imagine yourself reaching your writing goal (either writing today’s words, or finishing your 50,000 words). Visualizing yourself attaining your goals will help give you the confidence you need to continue writing.

·         Ask your friends and/or family to make a list of all the great things about you. Refer back to the list often. (You can also make a list yourself.)

·         Stay focused on the task at-hand. It’s easy to get distracted while writing (this is usually when the inner editor starts popping up), so try to keep focused on just getting the words down and not thinking about or doing anything else until you do.

Stick with it. You can do this!

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is a writer and writing coach. She helps fiction writers go from idea to draft, without fear, distractions or disorganization. If you’re feeling stuck, sign up for her free “Un-Stick Your Stuck Words” email workshop.

November 11, 2013
It’s not nice to play favorites, but I know you’re doing it.

Who is your favorite character in your story?

8:17pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZIcQdw_9cMlt
Filed under: nanowrimo questions 
November 9, 2013
Time for Word Wars!

This is just an informal word count for your book so far. This isn’t judgmental, it’s just a chance to share. So won’t you reply with your words so far?

November 8, 2013
How do I maintain my stamina during the month of November?

1667 words a day for the entire month of November. That is the goal for National Novel Writing Month, and it can be a difficult task to accomplish. So how do you keep on that track and still have a life, and maybe a little bit of sanity too?

Well, here are an assortment of hints to help you on your way.

  • Do what you can to get ahead-Even if it’s just a few words a day, getting ahead can help you when you run into unexpected problems. There is bound to be something that keeps you from writing at least one day during the month, and having a little cushion of words can make all the difference in the world.
  • Know what you need to write every day-Before I start writing each day, I take some time to think about what I need to write that day.Knowing what is on the writing agenda helps me to get excited about writing that day.
  • Give yourself reasons to get excited about your story. When you are excited about your story, then you will want to get back to it every day. So make a list of exciting elements of your story. Who are your favorite characters? What plot elements are your favorites. Imagine what part of your story your characters will love the most.
  • Talk with people about your book Share your story. Get others excited about what you are doing and leave them wanting more. They are going to keep asking you about the book, which will keep you on track.
  • Work in mini sessions Rather than write all of you words in one session, break it up a little. Maybe instead of 1667 words, Five yourself two writing sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. If you do that, you can aim for 834 words for each session. If you do three, then you only have to come up with 556. (Four would be 415, and five sessions would be 334)
  • Don’t judge your work too harshly. NaNo isn’t about creating the next great novel in a single month. It is about creating something that you can use as a rough draft to create that novel. Maybe something is missing or taken out. That isn’t a problem because any writer has this challenge as well.
  • Give yourself a break after you have reached your goal. Whatever goal you give yourself for the day is up to you, but I would suggest that after you reach that goal, you should stop for the day. Give your story time to ferment in your mind, and give yourself a chance to do other things that need doing.

So as you continue through the month of November remember that the best way to get there is to keep on writing.

Best of luck,