To Plan or Not to Plan?

So you’ve got your story idea together right? You’ve started building your characters and molding and shaping their personalities? Now it’s time to decide whether you are a pantser or a planner when it comes to writing your novel. What’s a pantser, you ask? Well that’s when you are fortunate enough to be able to just sit down at the blank screen of your laptop and begin writing with no plot or course of action laid out before you. If you are one of those writers let me please just give you a virtual round of applause because I have tried writing that way before and the amount of time I had to use up to go back and forth to see if I had this detail or that detail just right, or to check the timeline and make sure that I hadn’t made some huge error and it just did not work for me.

I, like a lot of writers, am a planner and I try as much as I can to plan out every detail that I can. In terms of writing my novel I have realized that I have to have an outline. I typically do a short brief outline with just some of the major points of the story and where the plot twists are and the dramatic parts and the whodunit aspects of the story. After I get a general outline together then I take my character sketches and I begin the more detailed, chapter by chapter, plot twist by plot twist, part of outlining.

Now I think there’s a misconception that when people outline they follow the outline to the tee and I have heard a lot of people say that’s what they don’t like about outlining but the outline is just a general road map for you to follow but the story almost never follows the outline down to the letter. In fact I almost never stick directly to the outline but having that outline does help me stay more on track then I would if I were just writing without a blueprint.

Where the outlining process can get a little broad and diverse is in the method in which you choose to outline. I for one like just getting a legal notepad and writing my outline by hand (this and the character sketches are the only things I write by hand). The other methods of outlining that people typically use are creating a storyboard with a bulletin board or you can storyboard in a digital format now with Pintrest or whatever digital format works for you to create a visual idea of your story. Some people choose to do a graphing (or mind mapping) method. There are also programs that will help you outline in a particular digital format such as Scrivener.

Now you don’t have to outline in order to compose a good story for NaNoWriMo. Outlining doesn’t necessarily make your story any worse or better. Like I said in my last post, it’s just a matter of finding and doing what works well for you. I hope that some of this information helps you and the next post I will be giving you a few YouTue channels that I think you should check out that will help you in your Preptober adventures. Until next time… #HappyOutlining

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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It’s the First Day of Preptober!!

It’s the first day of October and we’re getting into that holiday season but for writers it’s also a special time of year for a whole other reason. This is the month that we as writers use to prepare for the marathon month that November has become called National Novel Writing Month. Realistically if you’re serious about participating in NaNoWriMo then you probably have already formulated the idea for the story that you’re going to work on in November and you may have even began sketching out the characters for your story. If you haven’t, don’t worry, that is what the month of October is here for. There are many aspects to prepping for the NaNoWriMo experience but I’m here to give you some suggestions over the course of this month that will hopefully help you in the many ways they have helped me.

Today I’m going to focus on the first step you really need which is the idea for the story and typically a main character to center the story around. Now there are many different ways to start your planning process. Some people like to think of the way their story is going to end and kind of work their way backwards. I for one have never been able to start at the end but it works for some people. There is also a very small group of writers who like to start with the middle and build the story outwards, usually building up to the end first and then back in the other direction to the beginning. Then there are those strange birds like myself who actually like to take a story idea from the very beginning (sometimes even thinking of the opening scene) through to the middle and work my way to the end in a chronological order.

Now I know plenty of writers who have to have their character first and I will admit that I have had some stories where the character literally spoke to me and told me the story they wanted told but those occasions were rare for me. Most of time the story that needs to be told comes first and then the character presents themselves to me afterwards. After you’ve built the story idea and this is not to be confused with an actual outline) then you want to begin developing your characters. Some create character sketches that give the basic details of those characters and their background and their personalities and some like to go all in and create a character bible of sorts where the spend several pages on each character.

You have to find what works for you because one writer’s method may not be what works for your story. Once you have your story idea built and your character sketches done the next step is creating your outline, but that I will discuss in more detail in the next post. Throughout this Preptober series I will also include tips and specific book suggestions, as well as sharing some YouTube channels with you that can be of some use and help to you. Until the next time… #BePrepared

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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Are You Ready for National Novel Writing Month?

Are You Ready for National Novel Writing Month

For those of you who have signed up to get lost in the world of words this November (National Novel Writing Month) it is the last night of freedom (in a sense) that you have to not be stressed over whether you met a certain word count requirement for the day.

By now you have hopefully already completed your outline, done your research, gained an intimate knowledge of your characters, and scheduled your time to write to suit your needs and your daily responsibilities. If you’ve gotten all of that checked off your to do list, then you are practically ready to go come November 1st (that’s tomorrow by the way) but if you haven’t prepared then don’t panic.

After you sign up for the challenge of doing NaNoWriMo on the website (this is the website by the way http://www.nanowrimo.org/) there are still a few other things that you can do to be better prepared to go into National Novel Writing Month and I’ve listed a few helpful tips below:

  1. Brainstorm a clear idea for your novel: Hopefully you already know what you want to write about but if not that is the first thing that you need to figure out.
  2. Know the most important details of your novel upfront: You may or may not be a person that likes to outline. If you are an outliner, this is what your next move needs to be. Outline the major points of your novel so that you know where your story is going to start, and where you think it might end up. If you are more of a detailed person then you will want to detail ALL of the major and somewhat minor parts of the novel in this outline. If you are not a person who likes to outline, at the very least you will want to know that major plot points in your story.
  3. Get to know your characters: Some might consider this to be a part of outlining but I see it as being totally separate but just as complex as creating an outline. You have to know who your characters because if you don’t know who your characters are your soon to be readers won’t know who they are either.
  4. Research now rather than later: Do as much research for your novel that you can do before starting your novel. Once you get started writing, you are not going to have the time to really go back and do extensive research so get most of your research out of the way now.
  5. Begin mapping out a workable plan: Come up with a schedule that works for you to write during the month of November. If you are a morning person then you will want to make time available so that you can write in the mornings and get your best work done. Whatever time of day works better for you, you are going to want to maximize to produce your best work. This is also when you will want to let the people around you know that you may not have as much time as you normally do because you will be busy…Writing.
  6. When November 1st comes around, be prepared to start writing and be prepared to be very busy for those thirty days.
  7. One final thing: If you should happen to get stuck or have a bad day and are not able to write, don’t be too hard on yourself. Putting extra pressure on yourself to write only makes it harder for you to produce good solid work.Another important thing to remember for those who have not put tons of preparation into this, you DO NOT have to start your story from the very beginning. If you can’t think of how to start your story off, then begin with chapter two, or three, or why not even start at the end. No matter where you start your story on November 1st, just start! I’ll try to blog during NaNoWriMo and I’ll also be sharing tips and tricks on the Write 2 Be Magazine at www.write2bemagazine.com throughout the entire month of November. I wish all of you well this month and happy NaNoWriMo-ing!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

My Write 2 Be is…

CEO/Writer/Editor

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Focusing on the End Goal

Focusing on the end goal

Well National Novel writing month is more than over and I have had a whole week to decompress from the event that went more than a little off track from me. From my technical difficulties to the distractions of life and (if I’m being completely honest) just sheer procrastination the month of November was definitely disappointing in terms of actually completing my projects.

Nevertheless I am not going to use that as an excuse to stop working on finishing these projects. I have done that in the past, get so upset with myself for not completing something that I just sink into a dark whole of depression and end up not doing anything. Well 2014 was a year full of promise and it was all wasted and it was the fault of no other person than myself. Setback after setback I allowed that negative voice in my head to get louder and louder.

With each setback I gave myself even more reasons of why I couldn’t get what I wanted accomplished. I focused so much on the things that I didn’t have at my disposal instead of using what I do have to my advantage. If you focus too much on the things that you don’t have then you can’t sufficiently notice all of the blessings around you that you have seemed to overlooked.

So I am going into the year 2015 with real hope and with faith that can’t be shaken and with the knowledge that whatever God wants me to have will be mine and that he will make a way for all of the plans that he has for me to come to fruition. I have to stop counting myself out before I even truly get into the race. I’m not doing myself any good by doubting God and his belief in me. So no more excuses for why something didn’t get accomplished. Nothing but results from here on out.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

My Write 2 Be is…

CEO/Writer/Editor

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Despite My Urge to Give Up…

Never give up

I tell you if it is not one thing it is another and when the devil is busy trying to get in my way he really does pull out all of the stops. So week one and two for me was plagued with technical difficulties that would just hit one by one, back to back.

Last week, while the week started off rather strong with a fair amount of productivity, I had a physical injury that kind of left me unable to sit up and type or write anything. I was in so much pain that it almost brought me to tears to even try and move to do anything. That physiccal injury has unfortunately carried over into this week and although I am trying to ignore the physical injury it is very hard to pretend I am not hindered by it.

It just would seem that there are mini obstacles stacking up in my path like mountains trying to keep me from moving forward. I am pushing through and while my goal will more than likely not be met by the end of November, I will take comfort in the fact that I didn’t (like last year) just completely throw in the towel and say the hell with it and just stop even trying. Last year was a bad year for me creatively and this year has not exactly proved to be much better but I am going to make the best of the rest of the days left in this year and kick 2015 off with these two projects that I’ve been taking on during NaNoWriMo and use them as my positive start for next year. Well back to my writing cave I go, hope all of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo are doing well.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

My Write 2 Be is…

CEO/Writer/Editor

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When Things Don’t Go the Way You Planned

When Things Don't Go as Planned 2

So to say that my NaNoWriMo plans aren’t coming along as productively as I had hoped would be an understatement. I had planned on finishing up two of my book projects that I had been previously stalled on. Now while I have truly put forth honest effort, and have honestly been plagued with multiple back to bak technical issues concerning my computer and what I use to actually write, I can’t lie and say that I haven’t been hit with the procrastination bug. When I got hit with technical difficulty number one I was discouraged and then with the next couple of technical difficulties I had I just felt like giving up on doing it altogether.

Now of course I have not given up on either of my projects but I totally underestimated just how difficult it would be to jump back into my novel and as for the nonficiton self-help book, well I’ve been working more so on that but nonfiction is never easy. I don’t know why it seems I can’t produce anything lately but it is really frustrating to have a lot of ideas that you need to get out but still can’t seem to put them down on paper.

However, November is not over and I am not throwing in the towel on my projects. Whether I finish both projects by the end of November or not, one thing is for sure, it got me started on the projects again. I also have to remember that this could be a great kick-off for my 2015 plans. So how have you been doing in your writing this November? Have all your plans been working out the way that you wanted them to?

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

My Write 2 Be is…

CEO/Writer/Editor

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Due To Circumstances That Were Beyond My Control…

Technical Difficulties 1

So last week was really rough, at least in the writing part of my life. As most of you know I am attempting to do dual projects this November for National Novel Writing Month. I posted last week about me getting off to a rocky start and after I posted that (maybe the very next day) my rocky start turned into a complete halt.

For some unknown reason my Microsoft Word program, in which I use to actually write (blog posts, novels, articles, etc.) just stopped working. Seriously every time I tried to save it would shut down automatically, then it started to just shut down when I tried to type, and then Microsoft Word just wouldn’t even open anymore. I was in writer’s hell (if there is one) and I could’ve literally cried because I felt like the control of whether I wanted to actually write or not was taken from me.

Now for my non-fiction (self-help) book that I am working on I could still manage to get some work done as far as research goes but when it came time for me to sit down and get back into my fiction novel (in which I was fully prepared to do) the program simply would not work. I don’t know how I got it working again for me to be able to type this blog post but of course I am hoping to be able to get quite a bit of work done this week to make up for the days that I was not able to last week.

I am wondering if there is anyone out there who has been in the middle of a project and had their programs just completely shut down on them? I have a lot of lost time to make up for but I will try to still keep up with you guys while I am recovering from my program failure. Hope all of you are being productive and writing your hearts out!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

My Write 2 Be is…

CEO/Writer/Editor

Write 2 Be Media/Write 2 Be Magazine

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