15 Story Beats to Keep Your NaNoWriMo Novel on Track

Regardless of whether you’re a plotter or pantser, you might come to a place mid-month where your story feels like it’s gone off the rails. A lot of people will tell you to plow through! Just keep writing! It’ll work itself out! But I think better advice is to check in with your basic story beats. It …
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6 Questions to Make Sure Your Story Has Stakes

Once upon a time I was working on a revamped novel idea – a fun, scary, action-packed revenge story. It was going to be great. I was feeling especially confident after reading this blog: “Why Revenge is Such a Brilliant Plot for Beginner Writers.” I pictured myself pounding out this simple revenge story while my other …
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Solutions for Common Writing Mistakes: Runaway Word Counts

Recently I read a post in the Guardian. They interviewed some of the top editors in children’s fiction to discover the most common mistakes made by new writers. {I’ve included a few of the Guardian quotes here, but I recommended reading the full piece.} The article is illuminating, and it turns out almost every single …
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Screenwriter Tips for Novelists: Mapping the Mushy Middle

Last week I wrote about how to Create Character Change and the importance of making sure your character’s flaw is foiling her in Act II. This led one of my fellow Write On Sisters to comment that the “mushy middle” is a hard section to write. That it is. Robin wrote about it here from …
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Ignorance is Bliss: Breaking Writing Rules, Continued…

I’m an impostor. I know it. And I can’t believe no one’s called me out on it. I pretend to be a writer but I can’t claim erudition when it comes to writing. I’m a student of science and math, the rules of which I’ve studied extensively and understand. I love the rubrics of math. …
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What’s a B-Story? And Why That Love Triangle Doesn’t Cut It

Before I explain what a B-Story is and why it’s crucial, here’s a list of what it is not: Comic relief that is inconsequential to the main story. A side plot that has nothing to do with your hero. A tacked-on love story to appease those who say YA needs a love triangle. These are …
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Outlining – Method 3: The Wall of Sticky Notes (aka “The Board”)

If you’re a visual person, Outlining Method #3 is for you! I call it The Wall of Sticky Notes, because that’s how I build it. Others create a Corkboard of Cards. In the business of screenwriting, it’s simply called “The Board.” As you can see, it has four lines: Act I, Act II part one, …
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Story Edit Using The “Save The Cat” Basic Beats

Whatever your writing process, whether you outline or dive straight into prose, there’s one step we all must do – story edit. There are innumerable things to edit in a manuscript, but let’s start with the bones of the story. After all, adding metaphors and sensory descriptions won’t matter if the story is weak. So …
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Outlining – Method 1: Basic Story Beats

Just as there are many ways to write a novel, there are many ways to outline a novel. You can use all the methods, one of the methods, or none of the methods. The choice is yours! Go nuts with the freedom! Myself, I use all of the outlining methods I will explain in the …
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