NaNoPlanMo – Day 6

NaNoWriMo 2018 Facebook Cover

If you are giving the snowflake method a try, where are you in your planning?  I’ve only gotten through the first two steps and a little of step three. So far I like my characters, but they need a lot more meat on their bones.
Following is a look at a great NaNo resource. (Hint: it’s great because it IS NaNo.)

There are so many resources out there to help with planning your novel and others that help you arrange your life so that you cross the finish line by November 30th. The best starting place is the NaNoWriMo website.  It’s their raison d’etre after all.

Here a peek at a handful of items from the NaNo Prep page.

NaNo Prep


You can follow them on Twitter and Instagram. They are also on Facebook and you will likely find pages for your local municipal NaNo organization.


There are helpful articles, forum discussions, videos, and podcasts; you’re sure to find something that is exactly the thing you’re looking for.

NaNo Prep Library 1

Here’s an upcoming webcast.
Thursday, October 11


NaNo Prep Webcast: How to Write a Novel This November
WhenThu, October 11, 1pm – 2pm
Join the live webcast event.
Join some of the folks at NaNoWriMo HQ for a webcast designed to prepare you for writing a novel this November! We’ll be pulling some noveling, outlining, and prepping prompts and activities from tried-and-true NaNo resources, as well as making up some fun new ones. Come write with a community of your fellow Wrimos and get ready to discover your story this fall!
For more NaNo Prep resources: webcast is sponsored by Dropbox (, a supporter of NaNoWriMo.

Depending on where you live, you can find writer-friendly resources and groups in your community. Library-sponsored NaNo workshops and programs are out there as well as other groups and organizations in the public sector. Finding a community is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I have a Come Write In group that meets year round. We aren’t always working on a novel, but we still discuss writing issues and keep our writing a priority. One member of the group thought up a really clever name for us. We call ourselves We Might be Writers and we’ve set up our own group on FB. They’re my people and they’re like family to me after meeting for the past three or four years. I count them one of the better things in life.
Posted in NaNoPlanMo, NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo 2018, writing

NaNoPlanMo – Day 5

A Look at the Snowflake Method – Part 4 of 4

Snowflakes 2

Here is the fourth installment of the ten steps to writing a novel using the Snowflake Method. Steps one through eight were posted previously. Here now are steps nine and ten.

Step Nine: Narrative Description. Using the plot you developed previously, with the critical scenes in place, write a narrative that includes specific details and key moments. You may wish to include some snippets of dialogue as well.

Step Ten:  Write Your First Draft. Integrating all of the work from steps one through nine, write your first draft. Write with confidence, because you’ve laid a great foundation.

In all fairness, this step can’t really be done until November First, or very late on October 31st, but you have the first nine steps. It only makes sense that you’re ready for the tenth.

This really sounds like a great plan to me. I’m game to give it a try. How about you?

(If you are going to give this a try, I urge you to consult the resource listed below. My descriptions of the steps are very abbreviated.)


You can find more detailed instructions at the following web address:
Advanced Fiction Writing by Randy Ingermanson.

Posted in NaNoPlanMo, NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo 2018, Snowflake Method, The Secret, writing

NaNoPlanMo – Day 4

A Look at the Snowflake Method – Part 3 of 4

Snowflakes 6

Here is the third installment of the ten steps to writing a novel using the Snowflake Method. Steps one through six were posted previously. Here now are steps seven and eight.

Step Seven:  Character Studies. Time to fully flesh out your characters. These studies should contain precise age, history, family dynamic, reactionary and interaction behaviors, methods for achieving goals, life lessons, a detailed biography, and personality. These studies will allow you to focus on the climax and change your character will face.

Step Eight:  Critical Scene Development. Develop critical scenes for your novel and figure out where they will be placed in your plot line.

While there are only ten steps in this method, I can see how it will take some time do them justice. If you read the instructions from the Snowflake website, you’ll see how the originator discusses hours, days, and weeks invested in some of these steps. But, since the focus here is NaNo, I’m going to say that there may not be all that much time. Well, there is at least October to invest if this seems like a good method of planning.

Last two steps tomorrow.


You can find more detailed instructions at the following web address:
Advanced Fiction Writing by Randy Ingermanson.

Posted in NaNoPlanMo, NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo 2018, Snowflake Method, writing

NaNoPlanMo – Day 3

A Look at the Snowflake Method – Part 2 of 4

snowflakes 4

Here is the second installment of the ten steps to writing a novel using the Snowflake Method. Yesterday I posted steps one through three. Here now are steps four, five and six.

Step Four:  Development of Summary. In this step, expand your summary paragraph so that you now devote a paragraph to each sentence. These paragraphs should each end in a crisis, while the final paragraph should describe the book’s ending.

This part of the steps should give you a good idea of how or whether this concept will work out. As you continue with each step, you will probably find that you have to go back and make adjustments to previous steps.

Step Five:  Character Synopses. Expand on the character summaries you wrote before. Include more information about traits and behaviors. Is the character calm or high-strung, deliberate or impulsive, etc?

Step Six:  Plot Line Expansion. Expand the plot line you have worked on in steps one and two to four pages. Include features such as forthcoming conflicts, pivotal characters, and strategic ways each interacts within the novel. Devote one paragraph to the character’s epiphany.

More steps tomorrow.


You can find more detailed instructions at the following web address:
Advanced Fiction Writing by Randy Ingermanson.

Posted in NaNoPlanMo, NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo 2018, Snowflake Method, writing

NaNoPlanMo – Day 2

A Look at the Snowflake Method – Part 1 of 4



I recently ran across a method of novel planning called the Snowflake Method. I’d heard of it before, but never seen what it is. It takes a seemingly complex task and breaks it down into ten steps. Ten. Short. Sweet. Steps. Of course, each successive step is more involved than the one before it, but there are only ten. Not only that, but it’s a solid plan for mapping out your novel. Here, very briefly, are the first three steps.

Step One: Write a Novel Summary Sentence. This is a one sentence summary that states the central theme as well as the personal element of your story. The instructions say that this sentence should be no more than 15 words.

Step Two: Write a Novel Summary Paragraph. Using your Novel Summary Sentence as a starting point, expand your ideas to a paragraph that includes the central plot, cirises and a possible resolution. This paragraph should contain no more than 5 sentences. Use one for background, one for each crisis and one for the resolution.

Step Three: Characters Summation. Write a one page summary for each main character. Include name, plot line, motivation, goal, conflict, and their ultimate lesson for the novel.

More steps tomorrow.


You can find more detailed instructions at the following web address:
Advanced Fiction Writing by Randy Ingermanson.

Posted in NaNoPlanMo, NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo 2018, Snowflake Method, writing

NaNoPlanMo – Day 1

Pen and Paper

It’s October, or for those in the WriMo Realm, its National Novel Planning Month.

What are you doing about your novel? Do you have a plan? Do you know your characters? Their motivation? Their conflicts?

Think about the stories and books you enjoy most. What kind of situations draw you in as a reader?  Make a list of your favorite books and what it is about them that you enjoy most.

Drawing on these ideas, ask yourself some WHAT IF questions.

What if a boy who’s living with relatives who don’t like him is suddenly invited to attend a special school for magic users?

What if a small, meek hobbit is asked to perform a grand service to the races of the world?

What if a boy is bitten by a radioactive spider?

Get the ball rolling gently by mulling over  ideas that really grab your attention.



Posted in NaNoPlanMo, NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo 2018, writing

Thoughts of Fall

birch leaves 2

I can see a tiny swath of trees and sunshine from beneath the awning over my bedroom window. The leaves on the trees have begun to take on the sunshine-yellow hues that herald the start of fall. There must be a breeze out there, because I can see flurries of golden birch leaves fluttering like some cheerful cross between snowflakes and butterflies. It makes me yearn to run outside so that I can film it or just be in the shower as it floats earthward from the trees. Instead, I am inside with the weight of a sleeping cat holding me firmly in place. But I have a laptop in front of me, so I will document the moment with a flurry of keystrokes and thought symbols floating in straight and orderly lines upon the white of virtual paper.

Now, outside that captured moment, I realize that my mind is pushing itself firmly toward NaNoWriMo mode. The desire to write is climbing steadily toward the top of my to do list.  And in the back of my mind, there are flurries of characters and situations and worlds to explore all floating around and awaiting their turn to be rendered into words.

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Writerly Reads

My life always feels like a poorly conducted balancing act. No matter what my goals, there seem to be too many of them all clamoring for attention and I, loving them all, glance longingly from one to the other trying to keep them all happy. In the process, none of them ever receive enough nurturing to actually become successful ventures.

If I concentrate on eating healthier food and getting enough exercise, then everything else flounders. If I devote time to writing, then I gain weight and can’t be bothered to get out of my chair to be more active. If I decide to work on home improvement, those other goals are sidelined once more waiting their turn up to bat. And hopes of getting a respectable amount of sleep at night?  Phffft! What’s sleep?  I certainly would never get what I do accomplished without burning the midnight oil.

And recreation? Nope. Pretty much never. When I do participate in anything resembling social, it is done with a scrolling marquee of things I’m not accomplishing running in the back of my mind.

So how do people do it? I’ve never discovered the secret to efficiently, effectively achieving the goals most important to me while maintaining a balanced life.

On a related note, I finally completed a first draft of a book in July 2016. It needs to be overhauled and a second draft written, but I suddenly feel inadequate to do anything worthy with it.  I have invested in a small stash of books to help me gear up for this endeavor, but haven’t managed to get completely through any of them.

Here are some of the self-help books I’ve gotten.

Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez
scrivener-for-dummiesAdmittedly, I got this before I completed my draft. It was a contributing factor.
The author tells us that we can read just the bits we need. I started going through this one systematically and, wow, I got motivated to start writing again. The funny thing is, I did something really weird and when it came time for me to compile my writing for NaNo last November none of it compiled. (This was a sequel to my first draft novel.) I must have done something really peculiar. I ended up having to cut and paste my writing into a Word doc for validation.  One of these days I’ll have to go back to this book and figure out what the hell I did wrong.

Story Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant by Larry Brooks
story-fixAfter someone did a read of my first draft, I was pretty heart-broken. I knew it had flaws, but didn’t realize just how deep or wide they ran. I am forever grateful to the person who slogged through and gave me words of encouragement along with a much needed dose of reality. It’s one thing to read Chuck Wendig telling how crushing it is to look at one’s word baby with open eyes, but another to live the experience. I mean, I never once doubted his assessment, but the real reality is more real than the imagined reality.

After a few days to grieve, I decided my novel needed more than just rewriting, I needed to learn how to rewrite. I looked around and ran across Story Fix. I worked through the first four chapters doing the exercises and everything.  But then there was November and a new novel during NaNo and this went by the wayside.  So, here’s another item on that list of anxiety-provoking things to do.

But do you think I stopped there? No. I kept my eyes open for anything that could give me direction, show me the way to fix my story. So, here’s another and I just started to read it tonight and I’m very excited about the pithy content of just the very beginning.

Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules by Steven Jamesstory-trumps-structureJames begins with an illustration. He says if you ask a student to write about what they did over the summer you will get an itinerary, a list, cut and dried.  But if you ask that same student to tell you something that went wrong over the summer, you get a story. One boy said that he and his cousin had a competition to see who could jump furthest from the top of a bunk bed. The cousin jumped and went pretty far, so the story teller got back against the wall to get a running start. When he ran forward and threw himself off the bunk bed he ended up with his head in the apex of the ceiling fan, but still managed to be cast further than his cousin. Now that’s a story. And here is what James has to say about this (page 7).

“You do not have a story unless something goes wrong.”

This observation is simple, yet so true. I’m excited about reading this book. The hope of learning other simple, yet profound truths, a motivator. The challenge will be to juggle this with everything else, and stay on track, not give up.

And here is where I must confess that I am writing this blog instead of beginning exercises that will advance my second draft. I’ve rethought the story and need to make new character sheets. The guys need a few small changes to help things go wrong for them.  Poor things. But I promise a happily ever after.


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Posted in personal reflection, Writerly Reads

NaNoWriMo 2016 11-30 Winner!



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NaNoWriMo 2016 11-29 You Really Should



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