Tag Archives: outlines

Following your heart, blog post images, games, kidlit and more {From My Haphazard Twitter Files, No. 8}


The week has just flown by so fast! It’s Saturday again, and here are some of the links I tweeted on Twitter this past week. It was another eclectic week of links – I read such interesting things online!

  1. When You’re at the Crossroads of Should and Must really spoke to me, as I feel more and more these days that’s where I am, and I need to make the choice that’s right for me. The Should is so tempting because it’s comfortable, it’s familiar, it’s what I’ve been taught to do, but as I get older, I find myself with so many regrets because I never had the courage to choose my Must. I’m hoping things will change this year, and I’ll be able to embark on a path that includes the things that are in my heart to do.
  2. We all need images for blog posts these days, and when I saw this list of 32 free image sources for your blog at Lifehack, I immediately saved it to Evernote. I know this list will come in handy!
  3. Writer, Get to Work! is a free board game “of procrastination and misplaced competitive angst for 3-5 scribes”. Created by Jill Murray, writer and game designer, all you have to do is download, print to two sheets of letter-sized paper, add your own die and game tokens and off you go! I haven’t tried the game yet, but it looks like a lot of fun.
  4. Elegy for a Dead World is an experimental game that turns players into poets and writers. It’s available on Steam and I’m thinking of giving it a try. It’s another game that looks like fun.
  5. If you’re a Harry Potter fan and haven’t seen these yet, you’ve got to click through and check out these truly awesome interactive illustrations created for the first Harry Potter book by artist Kincso Nagy. I found these via @TifTalksBooks – thanks, Tif!
  6. This post from Flavorwire is filled with famous authors’ handwritten outlines – I love love love handwritten notes and things, and it’s quite a treat to be able to see how famous writers like J.K. Rowling outlined their books.
  7. This Guardian article, Children’s books are never just for children, poses a really interesting question: “Many adults – many well-known authors in fact – re-read books that in childhood had a big impact. So why is children’s literature not considered worthy of major awards?” My personal opinion? Children’s literature is in no way lesser literature simply because it’s written for children. Perhaps one day a children’s book will win a major book award, when the judges finally lose their biases against children’s books.

Saving the Cat This NaNoWriMo

Yes, it’s true.

Big Move + Busy Work Season + NaNoWriMo = Total Chaos and Crazy Making

It’s not that I’m a glutton for punishment. The truth is, the past four or five months have been so chaotic, I haven’t really written much of anything.

And that, in itself, has been driving me crazy. Not writing often feels worse to me than a whole lot of stress does.

So with NaNoWriMo approaching, a part of me kept saying, “You know, Belle, if you could do NaNoWriMo this year, just do it and finish it … think of all that you could accomplish, writing-wise, in a normal not-crazy month …“

I decided to listen to this particular voice. So here I am, embarking on my fourth year of NaNoWriMo.

Save the Cat!

In the back of my mind I kept thinking, now would be such a good time to try out the index card method. So I kept a stack of index cards by me, but I didn’t really have a chance to sit down with them until yesterday.

And while I did end up with a handful of cards, the thing with the index card method is, you’re brainstorming, right? You need to end up with a jumble of cards, so you can sort and stack and discard as necessary.

That definitely wasn’t going to happen. I had about fifteen cards in all. Three of which were my main characters’ names.

So then I hit on another idea. One that has me very excited.

Save the Cat!

Save the Cat!, by Blake Snyder, is a great book for screenwriters, but the tips and tricks in it can be used for novel writing too (at least, that’s what I think).

At the last minute (it was, as I recall, pretty close to the stroke of midnight), I decided to download the Save the Cat beat sheet. If you haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, Tim Stout has posted an explanation of the beats here.

My Save the Cat NaNoWriMo Schedule

I then did some wizardly mathematical calculations, and figured out approximate word count points for each of the beats. I then transferred it to a blank November 2011 calendar:

Photo 11-11-01 12 51 14 PM

You might have noticed that the last day of writing for me is scheduled for November 28. This is because I decided to calculate everything based on finishing my 50,000 words in twenty-five days.

I’ve crossed out November 6, 7, and 8 because November 7 is our move-in date (it was the earliest date we could book the service elevator!), and I wanted to be realistic and save those three days for packing, moving in, and unpacking.

The end result of my last minute panic about not being prepared for NaNoWriMo? I’ll still be winging it, like I have the past three NaNoWriMos, I will be doing it in a more structured way.

What about you? Are you NaNoWriMo-ing this year? Do you feel prepared, or did you have a last minute panic like I did?

On Writing: Surprises

Today’s word count: 1214 words

NANTUCKET word count to date: 33,959

In keeping with my intention to make writing more of a priority, I sat down to write far earlier than I normally do. I finished before dinner, in fact. I started by deleting a couple of lines from the end of yesterday’s writing, and then plunging in from there.

A surprise showed up today, in the form of a new character. I’m not sure at all how he fits into the story, but he just showed up and he made sense where he showed up. As to how he might come into the story later, though, I’m not sure at all. I figured I might as well write him in and see where he takes me.

This is part of the reason why I like writing without a concrete outline. It’s kind of like reading a novel: I continue writing because I want to see what happens. With this book, because it’s a mystery, I kind of know what happens, in that I know who the murderer is, and I know why the murder was committed. But other than that, I don’t know what happens between here and there. I also don’t know how the paranormal comes into play in the story, which is kind of scary (for me as a writer, I mean) – since one of my main characters is all about the paranormal.

Actually, this whole not-knowing thing can be rather challenging. When I stopped working on this novel last November, at the end of NaNoWriMo, I had just written a scene that involved another murder. This second murder was a total surprise to me. I think this second murder is connected to the story. And if I was reading this novel rather than writing it, I’d assume it was the same murderer. The signs are all there. But the truth is, I don’t know. I don’t even know why it happened.

But I guess if it keeps me writing, just so I can find out for myself what happened, then I’m all for it.

For those of you who write, do you use an outline? A semi-outline? Or do you wing it, and go with the flow?  I’ve always liked Stephen King’s concept of story writing as simply digging out a fossil that’s already there – the idea that the story already exists, more or less fully formed, and the writer’s only job is to simply to use the tools at hand to dig it out of the ground.