Tag: writing advice

November 17, 2017

Hi, yes, hello again. It’s been a while.




I’ve been absent from the blog (though not anywhere else) for far too long. So now that it’s my favorite time of year, NaNoWriMo (it is a time, don’t question it), I figured it was also time to return to you, and with a much-needed update on how the month is going. Here is the quick and dirty version:


I am…

  • Writing a new genre this year, sci-fi. It is much harder than anticipated.
  • A Municipal Liaison for my region. It is fantastic and a little more time consuming than anticipated.
  • Daily vlogging my experience over on YouTube. It is alsdkvja;wljg;a than anticipated.

That being said, one of the responsibilities of Municipal Liaisons (or MLs for short) is writing pep talks for our Wrimos. And while I do address our region at the beginning, I hope the content will be helpful for you too!


Copied below, in full:


Day 4, “Writing Superheroes & Double Up Donation Day”:

Welcome to Week 1, InSANoWriMos!
This year, the theme is Superheroes. Which is very fitting, because as writers, we’re up against a lot of Dangerous Foes. We have a hard path set before us to create a world and characters that exist only within our imagination. We must overcome Crippling Doubt, the Distractions of the Internet, and the dreaded Interactions of Family and Friends, all to write a novel within one month. It’s a hard challenge, but I think you’re up to the task.
I hope the first three days have been smooth-sailing, but if they haven’t, just remember that your story is one worth telling. Lots of times we can lose the battle to Crippling Doubt. We can convince ourselves that someone else has already done it, and better, or that we’re not capable, that we’re not worthy. It’s during NaNoWriMo that we throw that doubt aside. We lean on our fellow writing superheroes to reassure us, to motivate us, and to congratulate us when we succeed. Every word written is one you didn’t have before and no one can ever write a story like you will.
Whether you’ve already hit 50,000, are just typing your first word, or somewhere in between, I want to say that the fact that you’re participating in NaNoWriMo alone is AWESOME. You’re helping to cultivate a community that celebrates the craft and love of writing, gives back to writers in need, and applauds the hard work of others.
In that spirit, I want to remind everyone that TODAY NaNoWriMo HQ is running a day-long writing and fundraising marathon. There will be virtual write-ins, Twitter shenanigans, and a special treat for anyone who donates $25 or more today.
NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit and this fundraising push helps ensure the programs can continue year-over-year. Your support helps cover the cost of sending materials to Young Writers Program classrooms around the world, bringing the power of creativity to thousands of children and youth. It also helps keep our programs and websites alive to continue making NaNoWriMo happen every November!
Hop online to take a look at the schedule of events and track our worldwide word-count goal during the day!
Happy writing!
– Your ML


Day 15, “Stuck In The Middle With You…”:

We’ve made it halfway, InSANoWriMos!
All of the pep talks recently have been talking about the Dreaded Second Third slump and this will be no different.
I won’t mince words. This is the hardest part of NaNoWriMo.
By now, the newness has worn off. We have fifteen days separating us and the kick-off, plenty of time for our excitement to dwindle. If it feels like your story is beating you, like you don’t know where to go, or that you do know but you don’t know how to get there, if NaNoWriMo is slowly eating your soul, I just want to be here to say: I hear you. I get it. This part sucks. Days 11 – 20 lack the fun and fanfare of the other twenty days, and include the beginnings of Thanksgiving stress. Not only that, but this is the part where our novels can be toughest too. We’re past the beginning, past the set-up and the introduction, but we’re not yet at the big ending. We’re somewhere else, slogging through chapters, hoping that we can do justice to the image in our head. It. Is. Hard.
But here’s the awesome part: You’ve written the words, you’ve put in the hours, and your story is forming. Something that once was only an idea in your mind is becoming a fully-fledged novel. You’ve gotten halfway. You’ve done it once, now you just need to do it one more time. You have all the support of your fellow InSANoWriMos, you have the forums and the Facebook, participants ready to encourage you in-person and online. You aren’t going through this alone. And you can do this.
As Neil said in his pep talk the other day, it’s just about putting “one word after another.” So whether you’re preferred method is slow and steady, fast and frenzied, or somewhere in between, we only have fifteen days left. We can do this!
– Your ML

I’ll make sure to update this space with the next pep talk I write in its own, separate post.


If you’re looking for daily NaNo updates (ranging from honest talks on creativity to milestone words to writing slumps to random things about my characters), check out my NaNoWriMo 2017 playlist here:



As always, I’m also active on Twitter for in-the-moment NaNo thoughts and on Instagram for pictures of weird bears in coffee shops. (Don’t ask. Or do.)


Questions for youuuuu:

What are you writing this year? And now that we’re a little beyond the halfway mark, are you still as excited (or more?!) about your idea as you were at the start?

June 8, 2017

It’s that time of year! The month before Camp NaNoWriMo (Round 2!).


March, June, and October (and sometimes September because I’m always too excited) are for prep. And we’re here!


My usual prep consists of outlining. First identifying the three main acts, then Freytag’s Pyramid, and eventually a chapter-by-chapter outline. Ideally, I have this done before I start writing.


My best writer friends prep a different way – using character bio questionnaires.


I tend to enjoy character-driven stories the most, both in reading and writing. Characters usually jump into my head mostly formed, and I make stories based around those characters. Because of this, I actually need the most help when it comes to plot. (Thus, my detailed chapter outline.)


So while I’d seen various character bios floating around the internet for years, I never truly felt the push to use one until I started co-writing a story with one of those friends. The other friend is an avid D&D player, so character creation (and world building) is paramount.


Needless to say, they had a lot to teach me.


Here are a few character bios. For your reference and/or use.


The point of character bios are to help you learn more about your characters (duh) and, use that extra knowledge during your story. This is important because I think people who use character bios religiously tend to fall into 2 categories: those who actually end up writing their stories (aided by the bios) and those who never actually write their story (consistently telling themselves they just need more prep and the bio grows pages while the story document is never created).


Don’t fall into the second category. Don’t do that. Not to your precious story! Don’t be sucked in! It deserves to be told.


Okay, so now that you’ve promised yourself not to fall down the rabbit hole, if you’re anything like me, you’re asking yourself, “why the eff does it matter if the character’s mother was born in June or July?” I’ve found that while not all of the questions are useful, they compound to give you more insight. Typically at least 2 -3 questions, and their respective answers, prompt an event or catalyst felt directly in my story. To me, this is the greatest win. And why character bios can be worthwhile.


Filling one out also means you won’t end up writing an entire story without knowing the main character’s name and solely referring to them as FMC for Female Main Character. (I speak from experience…)


If it’s your first time filling out a character bio, and 40+ questions just seems like too much, here are the five I’ve repeatedly found helpful (from the links above, with a few notes in parenthesis):

  1. What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting? (This can be great for weaving throughout the story or as a subplot.)
  2. What about this character will readers like? What will they dislike? (Good to have one of each, at least.)
  3. If your character was suddenly challenged, would they rather run away or stay and fight? (Does this change based on the challenge presented? How?)
  4. What kind of person does your character wish he or she could be? What is stopping him or her?
  5. Does your character think the future is hopeful? Why? (Works for all settings, but especially fantasy.)

All in all, the answer to if questionnaires are worth it is personal. To both the writer and the individual story. Basically, you do you. Just don’t get sucked in and only work on the bio, and don’t do so little character work that you never learn their names.


Do you use character bios? What’s your favorite questions to answer? Let me know!