My Camp NaNoWriMo Goals

2019 is already a quarter gone. Which is totally weird to me, but hey! It’s the first Camp NaNoWriMo session of the month and I’m super excited to be working on a new project and some old ones. So, here are my Camp NaNoWriMo goals for the month.

My Camp NaNoWriMo Goals | NaNoWriMo | Creative Writing | Blogging | Wattpad | RachelPoli.com

Crossroads

This is a working title for my next Wattpad novella. It’s an RPG-style fantasy. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever written before. It was inspired by the video game Octopath Traveler. I created my own world and characters. I made great outlining progress on it in March and have been breezing through the first few chapters in this past couple of days. I can’t wait to see how the first draft turns out! Crossroads will be coming to my Wattpad on June 3, 2019.

George Florence & The Perfect Alibi

George and Lilah are killing me. We’ve been together for so long at this point that they really just need to find their own place and get out of the nest. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to pieces. But this book, the first in a series, has been a work in progress since 2011 – give or take. So, this month, I’ll be continuing the revising stage. I’m only going to work on it during weeks two and four of Camp NaNo though. I don’t want to work on too many projects in one day for an entire month straight. In addition to revising, I’ll also be continuing my timeline for the whole series and planning the other books. I need to get my head on straight with this one.

Sunday Morning (Vol. 1)

Of course, I’ll be working on some finishing touches, marketing, etc. This collection of flash fiction will be here at the end of the month! More information is on my Patreon Page and I’ll also be talking about it more in-depth on the blog tomorrow, April 4. Yes, this means a release date (which you might already know if you head over to Patreon).

Sunday Morning (Vol. 2)

There is a title for this one that I’m not sharing yet. The first volume compiles the first 53 stories I’ve ever posted on my blog, revised and remastered. I’m taking the next 52 stories from the blog and putting them into volume 2. I’ll spend the final two days of Camp NaNo putting this together before I begin the rewriting stage in May.

What are your Camp NaNoWriMo goals? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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How Many Drafts Does It Take?

When I first started writing, I often wondered how many drafts it would take me to “complete” my manuscript. Before I could submit it places for publication, how many drafts would I have to write, edit, rewrite, and the like? Of course, the more I wrote, the more I realized there’s no true answer to how many drafts does it take to write a novel?

How Many Drafts Does It Take | Creative Writing | Writing | Novel Writing | Writing Tips | Writing Community | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

My First Manuscript

I completed the first draft of my very first novel back in 2010. It’s been nine years and I don’t even know how long since I last touched it. I still have the manuscript and I’m on the eighth draft. It’s still not done. At this point, it will never be done.

Being the first novel I had ever written, I know it’s not going to see the light of day. I’m not even sure if I like the idea enough to ever go back to it and try to rewrite the story. Maybe someday I’ll share some bits of it, but today is not that day.

I Thought I Needed A Lot Of Drafts

Of course, that particular novel had a lot of drafts because I didn’t know much of what I was doing. I thought it needed to be perfect, which there is no such thing. I also thought that having multiple drafts and a crap ton of ink-filled paper meant that I was a “real writer.” That novel wasn’t a manuscript unless I had a handful of stacks of that same manuscript riddled with black and red ink.

But you don’t need a lot of drafts. You just need as many as you think it will take to tell the story at a polished level. When do you know it’s polished? That’s harder to tell because we all strive for the novel to be as perfect as can be.

It Depends On Style And Genre Too

I write mostly novels. I have written a couple of novellas. I have written short stories and compiled them into a collection. I’ve even written poetry and scripts. I find the longer it is, the more drafts you may have. You can’t catch everything in one sitting.

I was on my second or third draft of George Florence and the Perfect Alibi before I rewrote the whole book with a POV change. Now I’m on the third or fourth draft of that. So, you figure all together I have about six or seven drafts of that manuscript. Meanwhile, my novellas on Wattpad only took one round of edits.

It’s All Up To You

Whatever you think you’re novel needs, do it. Just don’t overdo it.

How many drafts do your novels typically take until they’re complete? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Why The First Draft Is Easy

So, I mentioned yesterday that the first draft is probably the easiest part of writing. I mean, it’s hard because the blank page can be mocking and it’s hard to even get started. But I think the first draft is the easiest part of the whole writing process for a few different reasons.

Why the first draft is easy | novel writing | creative writing | RachelPoli.com

You’re Telling Yourself The Story

Who else is better to tell your story than you? Everyone has a story – fiction or nonfiction. Yes, it’s hard to get started, but once you do, the words can easily flow from the page. Being able to follow your imagination and letting your creativity go free is one of the easiest things you can do – as long as you allow yourself to let loose. Yes, we all get creative blocks, but those can be easily dealt with.

It’s Supposed To Suck

No one publishes their first draft. If they do, then it either didn’t sell well or they write like a God. So, allow yourself to write awful. Whatever ideas come to your mind, just write them down and use them. They may not stick, but at least you tried and new ideas may come from them. Ideas stem from other ideas, good or bad. When you allow yourself to write bad, the first draft can be so easy because your fingers just keep typing away at the keyboard.

I’d say don’t bother to edit or fix typos either, but… that bothers me too, so…

There Are No Rules

Whatever rules are in place, they were meant to be broken. Yes, there are rules to writing. Grammar is important. However, there are no rules to tell a story. Tell your story how you want. There will be people who tell you you’re doing it “wrong” or they don’t approve. In the end, it’s their opinion. You tell the story you want it be told… just, you know, make sure it makes sense.

Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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How To Outline A Series

It can be hard enough to outline a single book but when it comes to writing a book series, it’s even harder. You can outline each book individually or you can outline the series as a whole. Depending on the length of the series and its genre you can choose what would work best for the project and you. So, here’s how to outline a series.

How To Outline A Series | Creative writing | writing | novel writing | outline | novel outline | RachelPoli.com

What’s the main idea?

Each book has its own main idea, central plot point, or theme. When it comes to outlining your series, you can list the main ideas for each book as well as the series as a whole. What’s the point of each book in the series and why do we need many books to get to the end of the major plot? What’s going to happen from point A to point B to keep readers buying the next book in the series?

Brainstorm these plot points

If you’re going to outline the series as a whole rather than each individual book as you write them, make a list of plot points that should happen from the beginning of book one to the end of the final book. This will help move the plot along and stretch it out for as long as the series needs to be. This will also help give you a rough idea of how many books you may need.

Summarize each book

Even though the books in the series will work together to get to a common end, each book should still have it’s own goal and plot points to be wrapped up at the end of each book. Summarizing each individual plot as well as the overall picture of the series will help keep you and the series organized. It gives each book more of a purpose and makes it more fun and entertaining.

Create a timeline

One way to help summarize each book and/or the series is to create a timeline. I’ve done that for my mystery series and it’s helped a lot. It helps keep track of the evidence and details of each case as well as dates and just the general “what happens when.” Creating a timeline is easier than it seems – well, it’s hard only if you don’t know all the information you want to fill in. There’s no wrong way to create a timeline though, which is great.

Do you outline your series as a whole or not? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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3 Elements To Include In Your Novel Outline

There are many things to include in a novel outline. Some writers don’t outline at all and some only outline a little bit. However, there are certain elements to include in your novel outline in order to have a thorough one.

There are five elements that go into writing a novel. Some of these elements should be included in your novel outline as a base. You can do this before you start writing and then add in all the filler and details later.

3 Elements to Include in Your Novel Outline | Creative writing | novel writing | writing tips | blogging | RachelPoli.com

1. Premise

This is the big idea of the whole novel. What’s the plot? Why is it important? What’s the protagonist’s objective? What’s the antagonist’s or villain’s objective? Conflict? There’s a lot that goes into the basic plot. All you need are some ideas for why this story needs to be told. Why will readers want to pick it up and keep reading?

2. Characters

Jot down a bare list of characters and get to know them a little bit. List the main character, the bad guys, secondary and minor characters, sidekicks, and everyone in between. Some characters may not exist yet, but it’s nice to have a list to keep track of names and physical descriptions.

3. Setting

Where does your novel take place? Where are your characters from? What are some locations your characters may visit throughout the events of the novel?

There are a lot more that should go into your novel. Major and minor plot points, scene ideas, and a lot more. However, these three elements are the basic gist of your novel. Once you figure this out, writing should – hopefully – be smooth sailing.

What are some major points you include in your novel outline? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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WIP Wednesday [October 2018]

We’re already halfway through October. The weather is finally starting to turn more Fall than Spring and things are getting pretty chilly. I’m not sure I’m ready to start wearing coats again. I guess I just need to stock up on more coffee.

WIP Wednesday October 2018 | Work in progress | creative writing | blogging | novel writing | author | RachelPoli.com

George Florence & The Perfect Alibi

I’ll admit I haven’t really worked on this novel this month. I’ve had it in the back of my mind but I have a couple of other projects that I’m thinking about. I have sat down and created some sort of plan/schedule/deadline/thing for this one though. Once I get Sunday Morning figured out, I’ll start working on this again, which should be soon.

Sunday Morning

This is a collection of flash fiction I’m working on. I’m almost done with another round of edits and then I’ll start another rewrite. Sunday Morning is planned to be self-published in early 2019. My patrons over on Patreon are making this book possible. I’m running a special promotion on my Patreon for all who join my community over there. For $1 a month you’ll get a special book box which will include a copy of the book with a patron-exclusive book cover, a hand-written thank you note from me, a bookmark, and more! (I’m still thinking of ideas.) This offer ends on December 9, 2018.

If you enjoy my work on this blog and read my stories, please consider joining me over on Patreon where you’ll get fun rewards based on the tier you sign up at as well as access to a fun, exclusive community where you’ll hear news first straight from me! You can check out Patreon here. Or you can sign up directly here.

Patron Only Short

The last project I’m working on for this month is a short story for my patrons. One of the rewards for signing up at $1 a month is an exclusive short story from me each month. This short story is written in help with my $3-patrons in which they can name a character and give me a prompt to write about. Again, if this is something that interests you, please take a look at my Patreon.

What projects are you currently working on? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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The Downside To Outlining Your Novel

When it comes to any stage of the creative writing process, there’s always some pros and cons to it. Not all writing is glamorous and it sounds more exciting than it really is at times. Outlining is a step some people skip and one that everyone does differently. So, here’s the downside to outlining your novel.

The Downside to Outlining Your Novel | Creative writing | outlining your novel | novel writing | blogging | RachelPoli.com

Before the First Draft

When I outline before the first draft, I feel a certain thrill for my novel. I’m excited, the ideas are brand new and fresh. I can’t wait to get to know my characters and explore a new world I’ve created.

If I get any new ideas, I have to write it down otherwise I’ll forget. Sometimes I write details that I believe the event might occur but other times I just write the basic idea down and call it day.

So, when the outline is over and it’s time to write the first draft, there’s one of two things that might happen:

1. I write the first draft without a problem.

Obviously, this is the best way to go. The outline guides me as it’s supposed to. Some ideas stay the same, some change. New characters are added and so on and so forth. This is the ideal way I’d love for all my novels to go.

But it doesn’t always happen that way.

2. The thrill is gone.

There have been times where I’ve outlined and then, when it comes time to write the first draft, I have no more motivation to write the story anymore.

Why?

Because I more or less already wrote it. Sometimes I write so many details into the outline, or I’ve worked on it for so long that the idea has been cooking for a while, that when I start the first draft I feel like I already wrote it.

This makes the process of writing the first draft slow. I wish that it was already written and I could just get started on the editing process. There’s a lot more detail and description that has to go into the first draft though.

I love outlining but there have been times where it’s been more work than I meant it to be. Sometimes, even if you outline all the time, it’s best not to outline and just wing the project. Everyone works differently but also I think every project needs to be tackled with its own unique approach.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you put yourself in a writing slump before? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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The Sticky-Note Method For Outlining A Novel

There are a lot of different outlining methods. Some people use lists, others use templates they create or find on the Internet, or there are methods floating around such as the Snowflake Method. I’ve never really outlined in those kinds of ways. I’ve always summarized or made lists. You know, the basics of the story. I recently started outlining scene by scene, especially now that I’ve been outlining as I write the first draft. So, here’s the sticky note outlining method that I use.

The Sticky Note Outlining Method | Novel writing | creative writing | outlines | novel outlining | RachelPoli.com

I’ve always loved office supplies, especially Post-It Notes, or sticky notes as I like to call them. I started to use them for a novels a long time ago. I’d make notes to myself within my manuscripts as I edited and stuck them in between pages. Well, I still do that, but I actually do it less now that I use them for outlining. Now I use each sticky note as a scene or an important event such as a plot point or special time.

Where I Put The Sticky Notes

I started using this method during my second or third time editing my mystery novel, George Florence & The Perfect Alibi. I placed the sticky notes 3-by-4 on each page. I filled in the notes as scenes in chronological order of what was happening in the novel. I did this for a while and filled up a notebook doing so, but then I decided I was kind of wasting good notebook paper.

While it was great to have the sticky notes together in a notebook that could close and keep them sticking and flat, I decided I’d rather use my notebooks for writing. So, now I use this method in a different way.

Instead of leaving the house to buy a poster, I taped a few card stock pieces of paper together and made my own poster – best part about this “poster?” It folds! So it works similar to the notebook in keeping the sticky notes together and portable, but I can also hang it up on the wall and work on it as I go while still sitting at my desk.

Why Sticky Notes?

They are so easy to move. You don’t know how many times I’ve written something down and then needed to change it. The only time I like to use pencil is if I’m drawing. So, I always use pen when writing or outlining. Then I need to scribble something out if I make a mistake or change something.

The sticky notes allow me to pick up the scene and either move it to a different spot or put it on a separate sheet of paper. I never throw away the sticky notes because even though I may not use it at that moment, I could very well need it later. I don’t want to forget any ideas no matter how good or bad, old or new.

I Love This Method

Sticky notes make things so much easier. As I said, I can easily move them around from draft to draft, see things all at once together in one big sheet of paper rather than flipping through pages of lists and ideas, and it’s really colorful. Sticky notes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They’re a lot of fun and brings your project to a new light.

Do you use this method at all? How do you tackle outlining your novels? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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Why I Love Outlining My Novels

If you know me then you know that I enjoy the outlining process. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but I thought I’d do a post about why I love outlining my novels.

Why I Love Outlining My Novels | Outlines | novel writing | creative writing | blogging | RachelPoli.com

There are many different reasons why I love outlining my novels, but there’s one in particular that really makes me happy.

It keeps me organized.

Again, if you know me then you know that I’m a very organized person. I enjoy having a schedule or routine to follow. I enjoy cleaning and I love having a designated spot for everything. This goes for my writing as well.

I love outlining my novels because it keeps me organized – the novel itself and my thoughts. Outlining gives me a spot for a list of characters, locations, plot points, dialogue ideas, and everything in between.

My favorite part about outlining is that it helps me organize the general structure of the novel. Sometimes I summarize each chapter in a notebook, other times I use sticky-notes and index cards to plot the novel scene by scene, plot point by plot point.

There’s no right or wrong way to write a novel – we all work in our own way and at our own pace. For me, however, staying organized with your novel is key to completing that first draft, editing, and beyond. Staying organized in the beginning really makes things easier in the long run.

How do I stay organized?

I break my novels up into the stages of the creative writing process. I have a notebook for research and general notes plus a poster. (Or sometimes I just tape card stock together because who really wants to leave the house and go to the store?) Sometimes I’ll have an Excel sheet or Word document filled with bullet points and charts, but I’m old school. I like having pen and paper.

My first draft is written on the computer as if all the other drafts. I have an accordion folder to hold all the drafts as well as file folder to hold onto the current draft I’m on because I always hand edit.

I’ll admit, it doesn’t always look so pretty. I do have to organize and re-organize now and again. Still, it helps me and it looks nice inside the filing cabinet and on my shelves.

Long story short, outlining helps my novel itself stay organized. I mean, the outline is more like a guideline and changes a lot, but it still helps a lot.

Are you generally organized? Do you enjoy outlining your novels? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Using Research As Your Novel Outline

I’ll be honest – there haven’t been too many people I’ve come across who outline before writing the first draft of their novel. Outlining isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do in the world. I personally love it, but that’s a blog post for a different day.

Research, on the other hand, is something that people do quite often and at during multiple stages of the writing process. If I have an idea of what information I need to know, I always spend a good amount of time researching before writing. Using research as your novel outline is a great way to outline without “spoiling” the novel for yourself.

Using Research as Your Novel Outline | Creative writing | Blogging | Outlining a novel | novel writing | research for a novel | RachelPoli.com

A lot of research goes into novel writing. Despite it being fiction, we as writers try to make things as realistic as possible. We want it to be real for our readers. Researching is the way to do that and there are many different things we can research in outline form to set up for our first draft.

Setting & Time Period

Setting is easy and hard. If you’re writing about a place you’ve been to before, it comes somewhat easily. If you decide to base your novel in a foreign place unknown to you, then you need to research. This may include traveling to that place, jotting down ideas, taking pictures, and the like. I mean, why not make a vacation out of it?

Unless you were born in the 50s, you have no idea what it was like to live in the 50s. School was different back then, they dressed differently, and there are even different slang terms than we have now. This is research you need to do in order to make your characters authentic.

Characters

Speaking of characters, people were named differently back then as well. Certain names are more common in certain generations. Do you necessarily need to follow that? No, not really, but sometimes it’s helpful to know. We all have different “roles” as well. Yes, everyone should be treated equally, but maybe in your novel they’re not.

How To…

How many of you out there are writing about war or have frequent battle scenes? Do you know what it’s like to wield a sword? Do you know any fighting stances or techniques? Researching this before you write your novel will help the first draft go smoother when you get to those scenes. It’ll still need editing for sure, but less so in the long run.

Then there’s horseback riding, how to sew on a button, how to murder someone, and so much more. We can write about what we know and what we have experience with, but it’s more fun to write about what we don’t know and experience it first-hand through research.

So, whether you outline or not, doing a little bit of research beforehand is always a good way to go. Unless you want to completely wing and make stuff up… that’s cool too.

Do you research at all? If so, do you do some before the writing begins? Let me know in the comments below. Good luck! If you liked this post, please share it around!

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