Tag: National Novel Writing Month

Total 4 Posts

To Plot or Not To Plot

To plot or not to plot? That is the question when I start a new story. Most times, I write a fast rough draft after I have a sketch of an outline.

When I wrote during National Novel Writing Month in November, or NaNoWriMo, I wrote as quickly and frequently as possible without revision because the goal is to write 50,000 words in the month. So, it’s more important to get the story down and save revision for later on.

I completed two novels, A Kiss Out of Time and A Dance Out of Time, both YA paranormal books by that method.They needed editing, and I went through them several times before they became publishable, but I enjoyed the free flow of ideas and quick writing it took to meet the NaNoWriMo deadlines.

However, my first romance novel, Wildflowers, a western historical set along the Oregon Trail, took several years and versions to complete before publication. I wrote the draft in a small notebook while commuting to my job as a copy writer in New York City. I did tons of research which I kept in a notebook, used index cards to write notes on characters, and created a timeline for events along the route the characters followed to get from Missouri to Oregon.  I typed the novel on my first personal computer, and it went through many revisions with critique partners before becoming published.

I’ve met writers who don’t start writing a draft until they’ve done extensive research and meticulous outlines.  I’ve also met writers who I identify with as “pantsers” and write the entire draft and then follow-up with research and revision.

I find myself doing a combination of the two with using  some kind of an outline or notebook  for ideas, a brief synopsis, and then writing as much as I can. I do research as needed.  I also keep a photo collection containing photos from magazines, postcards, and street maps to help visualize the story.  I enjoy using Pinterest and created a few boards to visualize settings, characters, food, and even music which might set the mood for a story.

To plot or not to plot? I think the answer is you need to plot, but you can approach it several ways from a few lines on a Post-It note to several detailed pages. Whatever works and gets you to write the story can determine the approach to plotting.

Finding the Time to Write

How do you find the time to write? That’s a good question! It’s not an easy process.  I admire those writers who write each and every day. I’m not as disciplined, but I would like to be. However, when I wrote several times during the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, I was able to find the discipline to do so. Despite a busy work schedule of teaching, family time, my birthday, and Thanksgiving, I scheduled time each day, usually after dinner, to write. That said, I produced three complete books during three separate NaNoWriMo’s, two of which are published, A Kiss Out of Time and A Dance Out of Time. My third is in revision stage, and I hope to get it published next year.

When asked about finding time, I’ve responded that it’s not finding time, it’s making time. At least for me that’s been the case. I am an advocate of carrying a notepad wherever and whenever I go for those bursts of inspiration. I keep one in my car, several around the house including the bathroom (good inspiration there), and in my purse.

I wrote my first novel, Wildflowers, while commuting on a bus to New York City from New Jersey. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to write a very rough draft in a small spiral notebook and later to type it all up. I’ve also discovered the recording app on my smart phone which can enable me to dictate story ideas or an outline. So, if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Since I am more of a morning person, I feel that if I can get up a bit earlier, I can use the half hour or so to write. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and The Right to Write, suggests writing morning pages. That’s also been helpful to me. If nothing else, it allows for a free flow of ideas on paper. Who knows? It might lead to a story later on. By the way, evening time is good also. Whatever works, as long as you make the time and write.

Happy writing!

On Writing: A YA series

What goes into writing a series of books? I often wondered how anyone could write more than one story featuring the same main characters until I tried to craft one.

During the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) of 2012, I  wrote my first young adult ghost story, A Kiss Out of Time, which was published in 2013 by Featherweight Press. The story features Georgina Claythorne, a seventeen year old psychic and ghost hunter, who is unnaturally attracted to the ghost of a Confederate soldier who haunts her grandmother’s antique shop in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

Having read A Kiss Out of Time, some of my readers, including a few middle school students I taught, wanted to know more about Georgina and her ghost hunting adventures.  After “living with Georgina and her boyfriend and fellow ghost hunter in my head” for almost three years, they felt like part of my family. So, I decided to use the 2013 NaNoWriMo to work on a sequel. In this adventure, Georgina confronts not one but two ghosts who haunt her family’s bed and breakfast inn in Ocean Grove. The book became known as A Dance Out of Time.

I wasn’t sure if I’d grow tired of writing about the same character and setting, but I didn’t. Instead I discovered several things in the process. First, I found it resourceful to have previous notes from my first book including a binder with maps, research, outlines, magazine photos, and character sketches nearby as I drafted. Second, I found it helpful to use flashback and connect the previous book to the current story. I also got to know my characters even better. A Dance Out of Time and was published by Featherweight Press in 2015.

Sadly, an accidental fall in 2015 waylaid plans for writing for almost a year after I broke both wrists, required surgery and a year of physical therapy. I am slowly returning to the writing.

Series writing is not for everyone, but I did enjoy my venture into it and will try it again. I might bring out a third story for Georgina and Jake as they are now young adults.  In the meantime, I have two other books in the works, another young adult featuring a junior witch and a women’s fiction story about an Irish immigrant, plus a short story coming out in an anthology of historical romances set for publication in the spring of 2017.

Both A Kiss Out of Time and A Dance Out of Time are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Feather Weight Press Pubishing.