NaNo Prep: Week Three

You open your eyes as a cold shock overtakes you. It’s the third week of October and NaNo is closer than ever. Emotion blooms in your stomach–is it excitement or is it dread? You’re not sure there’s a difference anymore. You’ve done some planning, but not as much as you’d intended. You’re not ready and still November looms ever closer…

NaNo is a great and terrible thing for many writers. The flurry and devotion to creativity is a heady and short-lived rush. Condensing the novel-writing experience to one month also hyper-saturates the emotional experience. And it’s harder to find guides to help you through that part! Hopefully, this worksheet will bring some balance to your NaNo journey.

For me, it’s a lot easier to fixate on parts of my writing that I’m not happy with, rather than what’s working well. And there’s lots of psychological reasons for that, but it’s also part of the zeitgeist of authorhood. There is a miasma around the idea of being a writer–you have to suffer for your craft; being a wordsmith means agonizing for hours and only producing a single paragraph; cut deep and bleed all over your writing tools.

And if that process works for you, I’m not here to yuck your yum. I’m just here to provide an alternative:

Writing can be fun!

Slanderous, I know. I’m not going to convince you that it’s always fun, because my Deception skill isn’t that high. But parts of it are fun. And this worksheet acts as a guide to notice what’s working well and what makes you happy.

Look at you being a dandy writer! You’ve earned these feathers in your cap!

Keep this worksheet nearby throughout your writing project. Feeling ambitious? Use it for each chapter! It’s important to me to remember the bits of my actual writing that are good and fun. When those moments of brilliance and glory arise, take note! Space is reserved to notice ideas you like, snappy dialogue and descriptions, times you get back up on that horse and when your wordcraft is on point. It’s as important to learn from your successes as it is to learn from your failure.

As with any big endeavor, there will be ups and downs. I’m so proud of you for trying! Next week….let’s go shopping!

NaNo Writer Prep: Week One

You may have noticed, it’s October. Time (in the Northern Hemisphere) for a crispness to settle in the air as the days grow shorter and the shadows stretch longer. And Halloween is on the horizon! Spooky scary skeletons, pumpkins everywhere and the excitement of samhain. I love it all.

And for many writers, that means preparing for NaNoWriMo! If you’ve ever tried it, then you know what an enormous undertaking it is. It’s a daunting challenge that’s as rewarding as it is brain-melting. It’s one of those experiences that makes you question your decision-making faculties in its midst, but afterward you’re riding the high of relief and despair. I recommend everyone try it, at least once.

There are also a lot of great tools out there to help you prepare your novel to enter this realm of existence. A google search for plotting tools and scene scripting guidelines will give you a plethora of options to pick from–and they’ve done a much better job than this newbie writer could! But I still want to support you through your NaNo journey–and support myself, too!

Presenting! A four-part worksheet series designed to support romance authors through the writing process! They won’t help you develop character traits or build a three-act structure, but they will help keep your inspiration going through the grueling month of November. This year especially, I know I need some of that.

Love when
a story idea sparks
inside you?
Want to
hang on to it?

Sometimes, story seeds sprout out of the smallest things. A certain scene might latch onto my mind or I fall in love with one of my characters. All my excitement gets fired up and I can’t wait to get started on this new idea. No matter how carefully I’ve plotted the story and worked out all the scenes, inevitably that spark fades.

This week’s worksheet is geared toward keeping that spark kindled! It’s a snapshot of what excited you about your current project. Use it as a reference when you get to that mucky middle!

First off, add a title. It can be the actual title or whatever you’re calling the story so far. Be as proper as “Star Dragon’s Voyage” or keep it casual with “Scifi Dragon Only One Bed in a Space Shuttle.” Whatever is easiest!

Next, add your characters. The field for this isn’t that big on purpose. Keep it simple: only their name and one key feature about them, if you like. If it’s a poly story, then include multiple names in whichever grouping works for your story.

On to the meet-cute! This is one of my favorite parts of story development! How did they meet? When did their friendship/frenemyship turn into something more? We know emotions are going to fly between them, what happens in the moment that sets that love train rolling?

Now, the doubt. Bum, bum, bummmm. This can be a lot of things. Maybe one of the lovers had their heart broken too many times to easily trust. Maybe one of the characters has a mob hit out on them and it’s up to an undecided bodyguard to protect them! cough, cough Here’s a place to record the thing that might keep them from reaching their happily ever after and is a great reference for when you writing needs a little tension.

Lastly–and most importantly–which part of your story spark excites you the most? Which idea is really pushing this story to be written? A lot of times, for me, it’s something small. A quiet moment in one of the steamy scenes or a personal quirk to one of the characters. What do you need to keep in mind to keep you writing this story?

And that’s it! Nothing too complicated or taxing. Just one, super-cute page to keep the flame of your ideas going. You’re going to do the hard work, hopefully this worksheet will help. I’ve included two versions of the worksheet below–one high-contrast and one lo-contrast. If, like me, you enjoy paper worksheets and are printing in black and white, I recommend the high-contrast version. See you next week when we find out who to blame when things don’t go right!