Posted in blog post, Thoughts, Writing tips

Almost time for Prep-tober!

Whew, September is almost over, and October is scratching at the window. I am enjoying the cooler weather and the change of the décor to autumnal colors. Fall is my favorite time of year. It is a time for bon fires, family, NaNoWriMo and holidays.

For those of you who want to write, November is a great time to get started. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and people from all over the world come together to support each other and write. I have won a couple of NaNoWriMos completing a fifty-thousand-word manuscript in less than 30 days. It takes discipline and determination. Are you up to it? Well, if you want to write 50 in 30 days, then you need to start planning in October. Here’s how I plan to use October to plan my writing for November.

As a pantser or discovery writer I don’t do outlines. So how do I plan?

Each book is different, but I start by fast drafting. Now some people would say this is the same as an outline and maybe it is, but my brain thinks of it in a different way. I quickly tell myself the story from beginning to end without any details or POV just a vague of idea of where I want to go with the story.

Then I start layering in details. I start with POV, I might write everything from one person’s point of view but then decide I need another perspective, another person’s insight into what is happening that the main character doesn’t know about. I have one lead character, but one or two, sometimes three supporting point of view characters. You can do more but the more you do, the more planning it requires.

A stand-alone story doesn’t require as much planning as a series in some ways, continuity is a factor in series. I need to make sure that what I said about a character in book one, is still relevant in book two, etc. unless there is a reason for the change.

If you have more than one genre in the story like my historical romantic mystery, I have a layer for the history (I usually do this last with lots of fact checking), romance is a layer as is the mystery portion. In my Applegate mystery there is also the family dynamics so that is another layer. For Winnie and Harry, their romance is still just a yearning unfulfilled so while I will bring them together and pull them apart, another layer, I also want to keep their emotions charged.

The purpose of planning ahead isn’t to take away the spontaneity of being a discovery writer but to have an idea of where to go next. Another idea that was given to me by my mentor, cozy mystery author M K Graff, was to make a note at the end of the writing day of where you want to go the next time you write. This is a great to help you get started especially if it’s going to be a couple of days before you have the chance to return to your manuscript.

Mystery author Kate Parker suggested putting ideas on a whiteboard (or other, I used a corkboard or wall) write down a list of ideas you want to go into the story as you use those ideas take them off the board. (I put mine on sticky notes so I could move them to the used pile but also remember to plan for the event or show the results of it.)

You don’t have to be really structured with your planning. You can brainstorm ideas and put them on notecards, shuffle them around and see what comes up. Find a planning method that fits your personality and the personality of your book. Each book is different, and some require more planning than others. Don’t be afraid to try something new or return to an old idea. For some authors, outlining, planning character sheets, knowing everything that is going to happen in their book before they write it is a necessary part of their process and then there are others who sit down at the computer and just pull something from the ether and write. Whatever method you choose, I have found that for me personally, having a little bit of a plan helps but too much structure takes all the joy out of discovering the story.

I hope this helps. What are some of the ways you get ready for NaNoWriMo?

cork board covered with sticky notes


I write suspense with a hot romance and a southern accent. I like strong characters with attitude and charm. Heroines who can rescue themselves and heroes who aren't afraid to love them.