8 Types Of Scenes

We’ve established what to include in each scene of your novel, but there are many different types of scenes. Each type has a purpose and a lot of them are needed in order to drive the plot forward.

8 Types of Scenes | Creative Writing | Novel Writing | RachelPoli.com


Often one of the first scenes in a story. The introduction shows off the characters, background, setting, and more. It introduces and sets up the story for the reader.

Exposition & Preparation

The exposition is where the necessary information is explained to the characters and to the reader. It’s where the conflict is seen. The preparation is where the characters make plans on how to deal with the conflict. They’re prepping for a journey or for a fight or anything that will resolve the conflict.


If this was a movie, this is most likely where a traveling montage would occur with lots of panning over beautiful landscapes. The transition scene is exactly what it sounds like. The characters are on the move. This is usually a scene showcasing them moving from one place to another quickly not explaining too much since not much may happen.


Another one that sounds exactly like it says. The investigation is the characters searching for clues and trying to put together the pieces of whatever conflict they’re trying to resolve. They’re searching for information.


The big reveal! This is when the characters and the readers (or the readers first) realize something big about the conflict. There’s a discovery or they figure something out about their problem or another character – good or bad. This can be a real game changer.

Escape & Pursuit

Another one that sounds like it says. The characters are escaping from some sort of capture or they’re rescuing someone. Maybe they’re the ones pursuing someone else. There can be a car chase, anything can happen. This one is usually pretty tense with high stakes and a good amount of action.


The aftermath can be something at the end or it can be sprinkled throughout the story after certain big events happen. The aftermath shows how the characters deal with a certain situation after the fact. For example, there can be a big battle and a character dies. What do all the other characters do when the battle is over? How do they feel?


The end. There’s not too much to say about this one other than the characters have figured it out (or maybe not, depending) and the end wraps everything up nicely.

What are some other scenes I missed? Do you have a favorite kind you enjoy writing? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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5 Elements Of A Scene

A scene is something we all write in our novels, screenplays, even poetry sometimes. It’s essential to have scenes in your writing and not just one or five scenes, I mean there should be scenes all over the place. It’s nothing we really think about too much because we write them automatically. Still, there’s a way to write a good one, so here are the 5 elements of a scene.

5 Elements of a Scene | Creative Writing | Novel Writing | RachelPoli.com

Time & Place

One of the first things you want to establish in your scene is the time and place. This will show your readers where your characters are. Certain things may happen at certain times of the day as well. If they’re going to the store, what store? What time does the store open? Did your character oversleep? Are they in the middle of no where?

When writing George Florence & The Perfect Alibi I have the date, time, and place written at the beginning of each chapter. I originally did that just to help me keep the timeline straight but I think I may keep it in. It seems like a nice heading for the next part, a good time jump, and it lets the reader know when and where they are right off the bat. Especially if they go to the same place over and over again (like George’s office) there’s no need to full describe it each and every time we visit it.

A Clear Goal

Something needs to be accomplished during the scene. Why are the characters where they are? What are they trying to do? Having a clear goal gives the scene a purpose and it also aids in character development. It shows what sort of decisions they’ll make and how they’ll be under pressure in certain situations.

Conflict & Action

In order to keep the story going something needs to happen, right? There needs to be some sort of conflict or action that happens. There’s always something that gets in the characters’ way or they fail or succeed or something just happens unexpectedly.

This one can kind of go along with the goal. The characters are there for a purpose and their goal is so close, but then something gets in the way. Plans change.

Emotional Change

What’s happened to your characters as a result to something that’s happened in the scene? For example, if they couldn’t reach their goal because some sort of conflict happened, they’re certainly not going to be happy. Or what if they succeed? They will be happy but then what happens? They’re mood is going to change and that sets things up for the next scene.

A Page-Turning Ending

Each scene needs to have a clear ending. The goal, conflict, and characters can either change or stall or some can get resolved but something else comes up… the possibilities are endless. But depending on what happens, you need to make it so the reader is wants to continue reading and see what happens next to the characters.

What do you think? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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How To Use The Camp Site To Your Advantage [Camp NaNoWriMo]

When it comes to writing during a NaNoWriMo month, it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated or even to just stay on task when you are motivated. Now that we’re halfway through the month, some of us may be losing steam and get stuck and don’t know what to do next.

I know a lot of people who turn off their wi-fi and disconnect from the Internet while they write so that they don’t get distracted as they try to get their daily word count in.

If this is how you work, then that’s fine. Do what you gotta do.

Still, as much as the Camp NaNo website can be distracting, it can also be a great help.

How To Use the Camp NaNoWriMo Website Your Advantage

The Cabins

Use your own cabin as a source to help you out. If you’re stuck on something in your novel, ask your cabinmates. Chances are, they may be having the same problem or have gone through it before.

Ask for advice, talk about the good things and bad things about your novel. Also, check your stats and see how you overall cabin is doing. A little competition never hurt anyone.

The Writing Resources Page

The Writing Resources page is great. There’s a list of events that you can participate in during the month as well as the “camp counselors” which are authors who give advice and pep talks throughout the month. There are also various articles about the writing process such as planning, character, dialogue, editing, and so much more.

The Camp NaNoWriMo Forums

Or you can go on the main NaNo website and check out the forums. Any will do, but there is a section for specific Camp Forums. It’s small, but you can meet many new people outside of your cabin and talk about just about anything.

Check Your Messages

Most often than not, there will most likely be a message in your inbox. It’s usually a “care package” that has a pep talk or good advice inside.

In Conclusion

I’ll admit that I don’t use the website as much as I probably should. I don’t really explore it and use the goodies that are given to me during the month.

But, when I do, I can fully admit that it helps. Whether you’re stuck or not, need motivation or not, it helps and it’s fun.

What’s your favorite part about the Camp website? Let me know in the comments below!

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Why I Outline As I Write

Most people outline before they begin writing their novel.

If we learned anything last week, it’s that we can outline before, during, and after we write the novel.

This isn’t something I realized I could do until recently, though. I always thought I had to outline before I started writing. Last year for Camp NaNo I didn’t finish my outline in time and ended up outlining as I wrote the novel.


After spending the time before the writing process to outline and adding additional writing time to outline some more as I put words to paper, I discovered a brand new world and realized that I had been outlining all wrong.

I mean, for me, anyway.

I used to outline each scene, picking out plot points and important things here and there before I began to write. Then as I wrote, I tried my best to stick to it. Of course, outlines always change and characters have a mind of their own and decide to change course without telling you.

So, as I wrote my novel I stuck with the guideline, changing it as I saw fit. I added to it when I wrote new things, rearranging the scenes, and taking some away. In the end, it was a pretty big mess. I found myself working more on the outline than the actual novel. I was spending more time trying to figure out what I was trying to say rather than just saying it.

For the next novel, I decided to outline differently. I summarized each chapter before writing as well as made a list of characters, plot points I hoped to get across, settings, and more. I realized summarizing the chapters would allow me more wiggle room rather than practically writing the story scene by scene, just minus the extra details and words.

Then I started writing.

As I wrote, I realized something else. Why can’t I map out each scene like I had before as I wrote? By the time I get to the editing stage, the scene map would be more accurate than the chapter summary allowing me to find certain points easier and understand more of what’s going on, what to edit, and how to edit.

In the end, I have a list of characters, settings, and more, alongside a rough summary of each chapter, and then an accurate map of each and every scene.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually not that bad at all. My mind works in strange ways and it helps.

So, that’s why I outline before and during the writing process. Will this work for you? I don’t know, but feel free to give it a shot. It can’t hurt.

How do you typically outline? Do you outline as you write, too? Let me know in the comments below!

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Should You Outline Before, During, Or After Writing?

We talked about researching for your novel at any time of the writing process. Research when you feel it’s right. But when should you outline for your novel?

You may be thinking, “Before you write the story… duh.”

And that would be the logical time, especially if you’re a planner. But what if you’re not a planner? Or what if you are, but your mind just works differently?


I outline before I write and during the writing process. This is mainly because I want to remember every detail and make sure I’m making sense along the way. Plus, it helps with the editing process later on.

Outlining before writing

I’ve talked about 4 outlining methods and then 3 more methods afterward. Most of them are typically used before you write, but you can use those methods whenever you want.

I don’t think I need to tell you that outlining before you write probably makes the most sense and it’s most likely what most people do. The point of outlining is that you have a good idea of what your novel is about and where you want it to go so you don’t get stuck on the side of the writing road.

If that’s how you feel, then outlining before you begin writing the main story is a good idea.

Outlining during writing

I find it helpful to get some outlining done during the writing process. I keep a list of scenes and what happens in each one as I write them. This helps me remember what exactly happens when I edit.

I do this mainly because outlines are like guidelines and the story can stray pretty far from the outline once you begin writing.

So, outlining during the writing process can break you out of the story a bit, but it’s also a pretty good idea to keep track of the changes from your original outline. Or, keep track of what happens especially if you don’t have an outline or any notes.

Outlining after writing

I’ll admit that I don’t think I’ve ever outlined after the writing process was complete. If I did, I don’t remember it.

But I do think outlining after writing the main story can be beneficial. Just like keeping track of what happens as you write, you can easily recap everything that happened once you’ve finished.

Once you start editing, summarize each chapter as you read through them. This will help zero-in on what you’ve written. It’ll help you remember what happens from chapter to chapter and be easier to catch plot holes and the like.

In Conclusion…

Can you outline at any of those times for one novel? Yes. Outline, write, outline, edit, outline. Why not? It sounds like a lot of work, but I’m sure it would be worth it in the end. It’ll save a lot of headache later.

Personally, I outline before and during for each novel. I find it helpful and it works for me. If you’re a planner, switch up when you outline. You might get something new out of it.

When do you outline for your novel? Let me know in the comments below!

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When Should You Conduct Research For Your Novel?

People always say to write what you know. And that’s great, but then your novel would be pretty limited, wouldn’t it?

I find writing to be a great opportunity to write about something you don’t know. Find something that interests you that you never pursued and look into it more.

For example, when I was younger, before I decided to be a teacher and realized I wanted to write, I dreamed of being a spy or a detective. I had those play spy kits with notepads and pretend handcuffs and glasses that you would see behind you–the whole nine yards.

And look at me now: I write mystery novels. I’ve studied the police exam to get a feel of what it’s like. I solve puzzles and riddles in mystery video games (one where I’m a defense lawyer). I have books where I study what it’s like to be a police officer or detective, looked up various ways to die and the consequences of murder, and much more.

Let me tell you, it’s not very glamorous.

But when do you conduct that research? Do you cram the information into your mind before you begin? Maybe you research a bit here and there in the moment as you write? Or maybe you just free write, bold scenes you’re unsure of and do the research part after you finish writing?


Here’s your answer: You can research anytime.

That’s it. The end. See you tomorrow.

Well, I did decide to start a post about this, so I guess I’ll elaborate…

Research before writing

There are two reasons you should research before you start writing your novel:

1. You’re a planner.
2. You have a decent list of topics you need to look into or else the first draft of your novel will make absolutely no sense.

When I first started my mystery novel way back when I decided to do the research after. I knew I had a lot to look into and instead of spending a few months trying to learn it all, I figured I would just have the research component be part of the editing process. Or, look small things up along the way.

I love to outline, so I made a list of things I didn’t know, things I would probably need to know or the sake of my novel. I listed them but didn’t bother to look into them right away. Needless the say, the first draft of my novel wasn’t very good, to say the least.

I’ve done research before writing a novel and let me tell you, it’s a lot of notes to dig through as you write. And it slows the actual writing part down a bit.

Research during writing

I’ll admit, I find this one to be the most effective. If you need to know certain tidbits here and there, a quick Google search in the middle of your writing isn’t so bad. If you have something large to expand on, then it may be easier to make a note of it and just go back to it in the editing process.

The perks of researching as you write are as follows:

1. It saves you a bit of time when editing.
2. It gives you a small break in the middle of writing.

While it saves you time with editing, I know you’re thinking that it doesn’t save you time writing at all. But, it gives you a break with the writing.

If you’re on a roll, bold what you don’t know, and move on. Keep writing if your imagination allows it. However, if you notice that your flow has slowed down and you keep thinking back to that one spot you’re unsure of, stop.

Researching in the middle of your writing will give your brain a quick break. It’ll help you figure out where to go next, based on your research, and you may even come up with new ideas.

Research after writing

So you’ve finished a novel and it doesn’t make any sense. You have a list of topics to research, big and small.

Well, go ahead and get started.

Doing your research when you finish the novel helps your editing process get underway as you expand on certain scenes and realize others may not work out as well now.

Then again, you may end you being in for some serious rewriting. Editing is always a long process and adding the research part will make it seem longer. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You should take your time with it after all.

In Conclusion…

Is researching part of the outlining process or the editing process? Who really knows?

In the end, it’s up to you, up to the novel, and is an in-the-moment kind of thing.

I personally research at any stage of the novel, but I’ll admit I mostly research during and at the end of writing the novel. When you research before you may not know all the information you actually need.

Plus, I’ve always enjoyed researching as long as it wasn’t for a paper for school.

When do you typically research for your novels? How do you go about it? Let me know in the comments below!

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Is Outlining A Good Idea?

If you know me, then you know that I love to outline before I write any of my novels. But outlining isn’t for everyone.

But how do you figure out if outlining works for you or not? Well, you just have to use trial and error. Outline and story and see how it goes for you.

To save you a little bit of time, I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons for you.




You won’t get stuck.

If you outline your novel you’ll always know where to go next. You won’t write a scene and say to yourself, “now what?” The goal for your characters has been clearly set and you can keep moving right along. Also, if you stop writing for a day or two, it’ll be easy to pick up right where you left off.

Plotholes should be easier to find.

Have you ever written something and then realized it doesn’t match up with what you had written in the first book or even in the first chapter? Outlining and keeping notes will help you keep tabs on everything and everyone in the book. Hopefully, you won’t write yourself into a hole. Don’t be bringing back dead characters… well, unless the rules of your story allow it.

Character development will be easier.

If you outline, you’ll need to plan your characters’ growth throughout the story. Your protagonist will be at one place in the beginning and will change throughout and be different by the end. Or they should anyway. By outlining the scenes and plot points, you’ll map out all your characters’ growth making it easier to make them more realistic and get from point A to point B.


Takes away some creativity.

An outline is more like a guideline. You don’t have to follow it, but some people find it easier to follow it as it is. If that’s the case, then outlining can take away some spontaneity in your writing. Sometimes our characters want to do something a certain way, but if the outline says otherwise… well, you should listen to the characters. But everyone has a different opinion on that.

The story may be too short having to add on words later.

When it comes to outlining, it’s very easy to get from the beginning of the story to the end right away. Certain description and fun filler dialogue may not be added because you’re focusing too much on following your outline. The scenes may come out a lot shorter than they would have if you winged it.

It’s an extra step.

When it comes to writing a novel, the first draft especially, most people just like to get it done. First drafts are always crap, the real writing doesn’t begin until you begin the edits. I find that outlines take away some steps from the editing process, but some people find it easier to just write that first draft as fast as they can to get straight to the edits.

Whether you should outline or not can depend on two things:

1. Your personality and how you write
2. The project you’re working on

Whether you’re organized or not, outlining may be perfect for you. If you’re writing a mystery novel, outlining may be the way to go. If you’re writing an adventure novel, then winging it may seem best. It’s all up to you… and up to your characters, really.

Do you usually outline your novels? Or do you like to wing it? Let me know in the comments below!

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How To Create Unforgettable Characters

Characters are one of the most important aspects of a novel. You can’t have a great story without a great cast of characters.

But what does a character entail? A personality, physical description, motive, likeness, relatability, and so much more.

A lot goes into being a character, but how do you make the type of character that readers wish were real? That readers want to know about, want to be their friends, that never want to forget them?


Think of your character as your best friend.

No, I’m not saying you should base your protagonist off of your real life best friend. Our books are our babies, which means our characters are just one personality trait our books have. We want to make it a good one. And, as our book grows and matures, we want our characters to make a good first impression on our readers.

(That analogy escalated quickly…)

Anyway, when creating a character, you should ask yourself certain questions:

  • What qualities would I look for in a friend?
  • What kind of personality would I want to hang around with all the time?
  • Is this the type of person I would love to be friends with? Or I would love to hate?

Our main goal is to create a likeable protagonist, right? So, I said again, think of your character as your best friend.

You want to go on a journey with this person, you want to hear about their day, know about every detail of their life. Well, maybe not every detail.

Getting to know your character.

There are two ways to get to know your characters: speed dating–plan them out–or take it slow–let them take their life into their own hands.

Speed dating

You can give your character full life and breath before you even begin writing. This is done through interviews and character charts.

Become one with your character and interview them. Ask them about their home life, ask them what they would do in certain situations, ask them what they want to accomplish.

Or, you can fill out a character chart, which is a bit more in-depth. Ask yourself, what’s their hair and eye color? What are their favorite things? Who are they related to? Do they have a job? What about hobbies?

Then, when all that is said and done, ask yourself one more question: Is any of this information needed for the story?

Take it slow

Whether you outline your novels or not, you always have some sort of basic idea of what you want to accomplish in the story, the plot.

Often times, your characters take things a different way. You may begin writing with a certain idea of how you want your character to act and behave, but then they do something out of left field and surprise you.

So, you don’t have to map our your characters. Not completely, anyway. They know what they want.

But what does this mean for your novel, for your readers? You have your character flushed out, sure, but why would your character’s favorite color matter to your readers?

Make the character believable

It seems easy, but it’s actually pretty easy to create flat, bland characters. So, how do you achieve this?

Make them stand out from the crowd.

Give them a unique voice. Give them some special traits and tasks from the rest of the characters. Allow the readers to point the protagonist out and understand that the story is about them.

Give them flaws.

No one is perfect in real life and neither are fictional characters. If you had a protagonist with no weaknesses, then there would be a short, boring story. The conflict would be resolved before it even began.

Give them inner conflict.

The external conflict is the plot, everyone is freaking out about that issue. But, your character has something else going on, inner demons that are bothering him. Show that, let your readers feel that inner conflict. Let your readers understand how your character feels.

Give them realistic emotions.

Show how your character feels. We’ve all experienced life and death, the first day of school and work, opening birthday presents, our car breaking down, love and heartbreak, and everything else in between. Let your readers feel their frustration, their happiness, their sadness.

Allow your characters to have some secrets.

Let your readers try to figure out your characters. Let them wonder what makes them tick. We don’t always know why we do what we do. Maybe your characters know why, maybe they don’t, but let your readers ponder on that.

Allow your characters to grow and develop.

Use your character as a lesson for your readers. What did your character learn through their journey? What’s the moral of the story?

Give your characters room to grow with your readers and allow your readers to really care and enjoy following your characters on their journey.

If your readers love and care about the characters, they’ll keep reading the story.

Who are some of your favorite characters? What do you have in mind when you create characters? Let me know in the comments below!

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Outlining Effectively (Part Two)

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out the Be A Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by Iridescence. Thanks, Iridescence!

You can read Part One of this post HERE.

In part one, I discussed about outlining tips for writers whose focus is their plot. In this post, I will be mentioning some outlining suggestions for writers who focus on their characters.

Tip 1

In the beginning, you might worry about starting with your characters and not your plot and how they will tie together seamlessly. Don’t think too much into your plot. You will figure it out as you go. Pick up your pen or your laptop and just begin.

But when you are outlining your characters, make sure to outline individual background stories as well. How two characters are related, how some characters will meet etc. Just those main scenes which you have in your mind. Note it down along with your character’s personality outline.

Tip 2

As I mentioned for the previous set of tips, I recommend outlining by hand more than in Word or software. Differentiating facts into sections will be a little time-consuming in Word and it wouldn’t offer much flexibility as well.

You might argue that it will be easier in a software such as Scrivener. When I used it for a trial period, I noticed that although it has several features to make outlining easier, it just isn’t the same as noting by hand on paper. It doesn’t offer that unlimited amount of flexibility. It also does not offer you a lot of information at one glance.

Also, in software, you will want to complete one section of traits before beginning any other. For example, you would want to get down all the physical traits before moving on to relationships or the past. You will not have that constriction in paper as you can just draw a line dividing the page and continue.

Tip 3

When writing/outlining a story and it’s characters, your mind will be cluttered and it will throw out ideas very fast. When outlining characters, you might think about his/her past and also a future scene at the same time.

DON’T write down one and plan to get the other down later, you might forget. Don’t be hesitant to cram notes in margins or divide sections of the paper without any planning. This is only the first attempt. Let it be messy, get it all down.

Tip 4

Use as many or as less sheets as you want. Don’t worry about it all being in only one page or being separate and orderly.Also when you want to scrap an idea, neatly strike it out once. The reason for this is the same as Tip 2 for plot-focused outliners above.

Tip 5

When you are done, don’t just accept it and leave it. Reread through the messiness and re-write everything you are going ahead with in a somewhat orderly fashion as final character spread. Also, save all your old sheets in case you want to refer back later.

Here is an example of a final character outline page (of just the basics):


Do you focus on your plot or your characters? What do you think of these tips and can you think of some more?

About Iridescence:

Iridescence is an 18-year-old Indian girl studying engineering and dreaming stories. Other than reading, she loves to colour code, make notes and plan everything, Snapchat a lot and is a proud INFJ.

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35 Questions to Ask When Critiquing a Novel

Are you beginning the editing stage of your novel? Did someone ask you to critique their novel or are you asking someone else to critique yours?

Here are 35 questions to ask yourself to dig deeper into that story.

Editing Checklist: 35 Questions to ask when Critiquing a Novel

1. Does the opening of the story hook you? Do you want to read more? Why or why not?
2. What are the conflicts (internal and external) in the story? Is a conflict known right away? What do you see as the central conflict of the story? (Thanks, Thomas Weaver!)
3. Are there too many conflicts happening in the book at once? Or is there not enough?
4. Are all the conflicts important to the story and help drive the plot forward?
5. Is the plot clear and believable from the beginning?
6. Is the plot interesting? Will the readers be able to relate to points in the book?
7. Is the plot resolved at the end of the book? Is the reader satisfied at the end?
8. Does the author create a believable setting?
9. Is the setting vividly described? Are there too many details or not enough?
10. Is the setting, time and date period, all consistent throughout the book?
11. Are there enough locations in the book or not enough?
12. Is the protagonist clearly introduced as the main focus of the story?
13. How do you feel about the protagonist? Do you sympathize with him, care about what happens to him, and do you share his emotions? Does the character feel alive?
14. Does each character have a background, hobbies, etc.?
15. Are the secondary characters helpful and push the story forward? Do they each have a purpose?
16. Does each character grow by the end of the book?
17. Can you see the characters? Are they described well or not enough?
18. Are there too many characters or not enough?
19. Does each character have a unique voice and personality?
20. Can you hear the dialogue? Is there too much dialogue or not enough?
21. What is the point of view in the story? Is it consistent throughout the novel? Do you think the POV was a good choice for this particular story?
22. How is the pacing of the story? Does the story drag at some points? Do some parts happen too fast?
23. Is each scene easy to read and flow well right into the next?
24. Are there scenes in the book that don’t drive the plot forward?
25. Does the author show instead of tell?
26. Does the overall tone work well for the story?
27. Was the book too long or too short?
28. Did the first and last chapters work?
29. Does the title fit the plot?
30. Is the book appropriate for the targeted audience?
31. What do you think the moral of the story is? What message is the author trying to get across to their readers?
32. What’s one line that you loved for whatever reason?
33. What is the strongest part of the novel?
34. What is the weakest part of the novel?
35. What is your overall impression of the story?

Have any other questions you would ask? Let me know in the comments below and I may add them to the list!

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Are You Ready? (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 6)

We can complain that the days and sometimes the weeks can drag on forever. But, if you really think about, the year always flies by. How the days can go so slow and the year go by fast is beyond me, but time is weird. What can I say?

I’m always eager to begin a new NaNo session, whether it’s Camp in April or July, or it’s the hardcore one in November. I’m always waiting and, like always, it comes up way too fast.

But no matter how much you’re prepared (or not prepared), you’re not always 100% ready for it to begin.

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo 2016?

October is NaNo prep month for everyone who participates in NaNo (unless you don’t prep at all, but still the anticipation of the challenge is there).

Whether you finish flushing out your novel or not, you’re never going to be ready for NaNo.

I’m sure you’re trying to tell me that you’ve done NaNoWriMo X-amount of years prior to this one. You’ve always outlined and managed to reach your goal. Or you’ve always winged it and managed to reach your goal. Along the way, you came up with new ideas and expanded on old ones.

But while your novel is prepared, your life might not be.

November is a busy month for most. It’s filled with holidays, Thanksgiving at the end of the month, and preparations for December began long ago.

Aside from that, though, you have a job or you have school. If you’re in school you have homework as well. That takes a good chunk of time out of your day.

Of course, you also need to write up your blog posts, read a book or two, occasionally hang out with friends and family.

Oh, and don’t forget that this is when the colder weather really starts to settle in, so get those tissues ready and drink up that orange juice. Getting sick in the middle of NaNo is the worst!

So, what I’m trying to say, if you haven’t gotten it already, is that you can never be too prepared.

You can plan out your novel all you want even set a schedule for yourself for when you’re going to write. However, things come up and plans change.

If something like that happens, and maybe you even get a little behind on your word count because of it, don’t freak out. Remember you still have the same amount of time as the rest of us. You can easily catch up, but don’t write until your fingers bleed, either.

Take your time, allow your novel to breath as you write it. Keep your mind open and fresh.

And if you don’t reach your word goal, remember that you still accomplished something. Even if you only reach 10,000 words, that’s still 10,000 more words than you would have had. You still had more planning done on a novel than you would have without NaNo. You still made new friends and writing buddies.

NaNoWriMo is a fun, stressful challenge. You’re still accomplishing something huge even if you don’t “win.”

Be proud of that and do your best.

NaNoWriMo starts one week from today. This is the home stretch before it all begins. Rest up and good luck!

Are you and your novel ready for NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments!

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Planners Vs. Pantsers (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 5)

If you’re a writer, you know the terms “planner” and “pantser.” Other writers will ask you which one you are.

There are no sides, neither one of them is the “right” way to write a novel or the “wrong” way to write a novel.

Our brains and minds all work differently and we work at our own pace and rhythm. If you have great ideas and have to follow a basic outline to stick with said ideas, then go for it. If you have an awesome idea and want to see where the word flow takes you, go for it.

However, there are pros and cons to each side.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep: Planners vs. Pantsers

What is a planner?

A planner is someone who figures out most (or every) details of their novel. They outline, they plot, they character develop long before the character is created on the page, they draw maps, and do so much more. They are the definition of prepared, especially when NaNoWriMo comes along.

Pros of being a planner

  • Writer’s block doesn’t hit them that hard, if at all, since they already know what is going to happen next.
  • There’s always room for improvement. An outline isn’t set in stone, it’s a guideline. If something needs to change or new ideas pop up, the writer can add and delete.

Cons of being a planner

  • It’s a lot of work. Not to sound lazy, but creating an outline takes a lot of time, effort, and brainpower before the actual writing even begins.

What is a pantser?

A pantser “flies by the seat of their pants.” They don’t go in with any sort of plan (or something even an idea). They just go with the flow and see what happens next.

Pros of being a pantser

  • Flexibility. Since they have no outline, they can do whatever they want to their characters and create twists and turns. There are no limits.
  • They can dive right in. Do you want to write a story right now? Go right ahead. No ideas? That’s okay, just write whatever comes into your mind.

Cons of being a pantser

  • They may get writer’s block and that can put their story on hold for a long time.

Of course, take these pros and cons with a grain of salt. Like I said, there is no right or wrong side. There is no right or wrong way to write a novel.

As long as you have an active imagination, that’s all that matters.

Are you a planner or pantser? Let me know in the comments below!

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Anatomy of a Summary (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 4)

Remember that literary plot we used to learn about all the time in elementary school? You know, we’d read a book in class and then we’d have to do some sort of project or essay about it. It often included summarizing what you read.

Well, apparently that’s more useful than we ever imagined. Who knew that we’d actually be using something we learned in school later on in life?

Anatomy of a Summary: NaNoWriMo 2016 prep

There are five parts of a novel:

1. Exposition
2. Rising action
3. Climax
4. Falling action
5. Resolution

Normally, we would summarize our novels after we’ve written them. That would make the most sense. But, if you’re a planner, this is a decent start.

Even if you’re a pantser, this is something good to have before or after you write your novel. It’s the bare minimum of details and it goes a long way when summarizing your novel.

What is the exposition?

The exposition is the beginning of the novel. Introduce the novel including the main characters, setting, and conflict.

What is the rising action?

The rising action is your protagonist attempting to solve the problem at hand. In most cases, they fail the first time or so.

What is the climax?

The climax is the turning point of the story. It’s the most suspenseful, it makes or breaks whatever your protagonist is going through.

What is the falling action?

Just like the rising action, the falling action is actions that happen after the climax. The rising action and falling action just help us get from point A to point B.

What is the resolution?

The resolution of the story is the conclusion. The problems are solved, everyone lives happily ever after… Or rocks fall and everyone dies. Do with that what you will.

As I stated earlier, this is something that you would typically do after your novel is complete. However, if you’re trying to outline and get a feel for what you want to happen, I think this is a great starting point.

If you’re a pantser, try this out anyway. You may have more information figured out than you realize. And that can help drive you from one point to the other when you start writing.

I remember I hated writing summaries when I was in school. I understand this literary plot to a point, but in the end it was always homework to me. Now that I’m older and I’m using it for my own creative writing, I’ve realized how helpful (and easy) it is.

How do you typically summarize your novels?

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Write What You Don’t Know (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 3)

Yesterday I explained why, in my opinion, writing what you know is good advice.

No one expects you to write complete nonfiction works of your life. No one expects you to base all of your fictional work on real life experiences.

You need a good balance between what you know and what you don’t know. I mean, let’s be honest here. If you’re writing fantasy, are you ever going to encounter a dragon? I’d say those chances are slim.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep: Write what you don't know

How do I write what I don’t know?

Research, research, research!

I was that kid in school who loved doing projects and essays that you needed to do research for.

Not mention that I’m a 90s kid so I grew up with the evolution of computers and technology. So any excuse to get me to be on the computer was good enough for me.

These days, the Internet is your best friend, though you have to wary of the types of websites you find. Sorry to say that not everything on the Internet is true.

Not even this blog as this is all my opinion. And that’s a fact.

But to be serious, there are many different ways to research.

How do I research?

Like I said, the Internet is a great one. As long as you find credible sources, you have a vast amount of information at your fingertips.

There are also books. The bookstore and the library are your friends. No one goes there as often as they should anymore. Even if you don’t have any research to do, just go in there and sniff a book or two. Better yet, buy a few.

Talk to people. Are you trying to research what it’s like to be a doctor? How to become a doctor? What they’re typical day is like? Talk to any doctors that you know. Ask to interview them. I babysit for a family and the kids’ father is in the Fire Academy. My main character is a detective, but I’ve been getting good insight on what the Police Academy is like. Fire and Police aren’t the same, but they run similar drills and are just as tough to get through.

Another form of research is (wait for it…) real life experiences.

Yes, I just did that.

Wait a minute!

Hold on, I’m still explaining.

I’m not telling you to do research on that hypothetical flat tire you got the other day. No, I’m telling you to research by hands-on experience.

For example, I have to research archery for my novel The Lost Girl. I’ve Googled archery and even looked up writing-related information about it through Pinterest. However, there’s only so much I can read about archery. There’s no feeling behind it.

I can explain how my protagonist holds her bow and pulls back the arrow, but I can’t describe how it feels to actually release the arrow. So, Kris is going to accompany me to an archery class. I’ll tell you all about that when the time comes.

But I’m sure you get my point now. Research is important and so is living. Everything counts and everything helps towards your writing.

Write down all your life experiences, good and bad. Find something that interests you and research it. It’s great material for your stories and you’ll learn something new.

Do you research a lot? What are your methods for researching? Or do you write more true-to-life type stories? Let me know in the comments!

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Write What You Know (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 2)

Some wise person said to write what you know. Some people agree with this, some people don’t.

What about you? Do you agree with that?

Whether you do or not, I’m not going to tell you this:

Write what you know and write what you don’t know.

Easy enough, right?

Write What You Know NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

Why should I write what I know?

You know a lot more than you think, that’s why.

You can draw in most life experiences into your stories. The best research would be your own memory. Look things up in your journal, if you have one and write in it frequently.

How can I write what I know?

Did you get a flat tire on your way to work the other day? Put your character in your shoes. How does getting that flat tire make your character feel? Is he angry because maybe he just got the car fixed? Is he frustrated or worried because now he’ll be late to work? Or maybe he’s heading out to pick up his date and he’s already nervous enough without the flat tire. Or maybe he feels indifferent because he’s in no rush and it is what it is. He can’t do anything about it other than fix it… Or call someone to come fix it for him.

What did you actually do when you got that flat tire? Is that how your character would act? Which character would be best to put in that situation? Play around with it, the possibilities are endless.

But wouldn’t I just be telling my life story as a memoir with a fictional character?

Yes and no.

If you write what you know, you’re creating a relatable situation for your characters and readers to have in common. Yet, you’re not explaining the true story word for word. You have to embellish a little. Fictionalize the situation.

Fine. But how do I do that?

Play the “What If?” game.

What if your character’s tire got flat because someone poked holes in it? What if some unknown force caused the flat tire? What if the mechanic comes down to help fix the tire and that person ends up being your character’s soul mate?

Maybe your character wants to avoid the situation altogether and goes back in time to avoid it. But then maybe he gets stuck back in time. Or maybe he makes it back without realizing he changed one important detail about his life accidentally.

You can twist and turn your own situation into something book-worthy. Turn your own situation into a plot, or into a bigger situation to help move your plot along.

There are a lot of twists and turns out there. There are a lot of, “should I have,” “could I have,” “would I have,” and “what if?” questions out there.

I mean, tell me there hasn’t been a situation in your life where you thought back on it wondering how you could have done things differently.

So, good advice or bad, you should still write what you know. Because your experience by getting fired at your job could be the beginning of your bestseller.

Of course, it’s always best to write what you don’t know as well. Just to mix things up a bit.

But there will be more on that tomorrow.

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