Emotional Plotting

It’s that time of year again! The time to dive deep, start drowning, and scramble back up to breath by December. It’s time for National Novel Writing Month! If you didn’t read Samantha’s post about generational plotting be sure to check it out because I’ll be building off of her thoughts here. Character is sovereign […]

Setting Up Setting

This is how the conversation in my head went as I sat reading Setting by Bickham over my holiday break: Chapter 1- Story setting is important.  Chapter 5- Super-duper important. End of Book- Crap, I’ve got to re-examine everything… Setting: the surroundings or environment of anything. For a book this can be anything from a […]

Starting Fresh- A new book journey


After getting my first fully edited book done and out there I’ve started working on something new. I will not be writing the same way this time. This time I will be intentional about all of it.

This time I started with a question, something I needed to create an answer to in the form of a story.

The more I developed an answer to my question the more my fantasy world developed around the characters. The world, in turn, placed a mark upon the character’s lives, occupations, and upbringing. The old question of nature versus nurture.

I only know that the question came first and the story followed.

Now I’m piecing all it all together and here’s what’s flowing out of it. Consider these ideas when planning your next work. I’ve only learned how important these are through rejection slips, twitter pitches, and submission processes. These things can make your words sparkle or if not polished correctly create a dull sheen.

Plot Points- The mushy middle, I’m not talking about potatoes here. If your story falls apart in the middle because of lack of conflict or false conflict you’re going to have a problem. The middle is a third of the book and it needs just as much attention as the beginning and the end.

Darkest Moment– I’ve seen through Twitter pitch parties many editors/agents request material from the beginning and also for your ‘darkest moment.’ This is the point about two thirds through your story where all is lost and hopeless, when your characters make a choice to fight or give up regardless of the odds. Do you have a darkest moment? Yeah, me either. So this time I’m planning it to be sure it’s there on purpose and not on accident.

Mapping– If you aren’t using the real world in your story you need to map out a new one. Even if you can’t draw, do this. You create space, distance, and plot points you would not have considered otherwise. Here’s how I like to map.

Characters– You don’t realize how many characters you actually need when you first start out writing. Characters can easily become stale and cliché if not properly considered. Some stereotypes are nice to rely on but not for any recurring characters. Think of JK Rowling, she had a notebook for each character she wrote about in Harry Potter, because it matters.

Doodling– My favorite part. So I don’t have a secret here it’s just taking the time to explore different avenues you can take your story prior to writing it. This helps me because I get a better feel for the place and atmosphere of my book but I also understand what isn’t going to work and why. For this story I know I want to set it in a swamp. But that’s very generic. What kind of swamp- hot/cold climate, water/mud, wildlife, navigation by boat/land. These options will all have a direct impact on how my characters move and behave throughout the story.

Theme– While you may not know what your theme is right away, you should at least be on the watch for it. For example my new story is set in a swamp, why? Well I hadn’t really thought about it, it just occurred to me while brainstorming, which is normal. Most of us don’t give it an extra thought but build our next story level on top of it. But since I’m trying to be intentional I’m going to think it through and see if a swamp accurately reflects my story theme or if not why not.

Pinterest– I took the time to make a secret story board for this book. I searched relevant terms for what I wanted and found some concrete examples to go back to when I loose my way around that mushy middle we talked about earlier. I also have a firm grasp of character looks, new skills to reference, and plant life to draw upon as I write each scene.

What other things do you consider before you dive into a new work in progress? Do you use any special techniques to get your creative mind flowing?

A final thought for the perfectionists out there, regardless of prep work and planning, be sure to have fun with your first draft. It’s not going to be perfect, not even close, so don’t get hung up on little things. Keep moving and fix it later. I use a * to denote areas I need to flesh out or work out during editing and skip right over them. Thanks to Nicole Evens for reminding me of this.

Happy Questing!

Plotting with Cell Phones: A Writer’s Guide

I’m sure you’ve heard it a fair number of times, “I write this genre/time because there are no smart phones to deal with.”

It’s a tough fact, smart phones can kill your plot with a phone call or quick Google search. Here are a few examples.

What’s a writer to do? You either fall into one of two categories: avoid or embrace. Here are a few great ways to do both.

Avoid by:

  • Loss of service due to remote area, aka data roaming.
  • Loss of service due to non payment of bill.
  • Loss of service due to height of building, skyscrapers are too high without signal boosters.
  • Loss of service due to construction, concreate and metal walls can block or disrupt signal.
  • Loss of service due to dead battery.
  • Loss of service due to broken screen.
  • Loss of service due to water damage.
  • Loss of service due to data limit reached.

Embrace by:

  • Use it by sending a text to the wrong person.
  • Use it by messages being misinterpreted.
  • Use it by butt dialing characters.
  • Use it by highlighting what your character does and doesn’t understand.
    • Organization apps for characters who are control freaks.
    • Grandpa uses it to call but doesn’t understand texts.
    • Kids showing-up adults with tech skills.
    • Character addicted to Candy Crush misses important things.
  • Use it to search for answers that may (not) be correct.
  • Use it to create scandle.
  • Use it to show family dynamics.
  • Use it as a support net for someone struggling.
  • Use it to keep long distant connections close and in the mix.
  • Use it to track someone.
  • Use it to find your way or get lost.

Hopefully what you see here is a rich layering effect phones can give to your story. You can show a characters flaws and strengths based on the apps they chose (and don’t choose) to have on their devise. How characters spend their time and what they choose to react too. Remember, although the internet may have the correct answer the character may not find it or may interpret it incorrectly.

Add your thoughts below if you have more ideas to share.

Happy writing and please subscribe if you like these posts.