Why WriteScouts?

novel-idea-generator-coverYou may have heard me talking about WriteScouts. What the heck is it anyway? Well, you’ve heard of the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts, where kids learn skills that make them better people, right?. As I began taking my writing seriously about 13 years ago, I started by stumbling along. I wrote and thought it was amazing (oh, the joy! I was going to be rich! Everyone would be blown away by my brilliance!), but a writer friend (Hi, DaLynne!) pointed out places where I could improve my writing and I was crushed. but determined to do better.

I read blogs, craft books, magazines. Essentially, I needed to know how to do everything. I started a novel and sent a few chapters to a writer I met online who agreed to give me feedback. Yeah, that feedback was kinda brutal. I worked and reworked and revised, but got stuck in perfection stasis. I couldn’t get past 25K words.

Then I found National Novel Writing Month and learned how to lock up my Internal Editor and get that first draft DONE. That was huge for me, because you can’t edit a blank page. The second year I did NaNoWriMo, I met a fantastic group of people and a few of us started a critique group. That was in . . . 2005, I think. We are STILL meeting and those women are some of my closest friends.

Together, we’ve learned all kinds of things about characterization, plotting, suspense, pacing, setting, etc. I discovered that there are a myriad of skills that need to be learned to make one a better writer, and then I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a group that would teach you those skills, and help you keep track of the skills that you learn (and, I have to admit, I kinda like the idea of earning badges)?

WriteScout was born.

To celebrate the birth of this new program, I’m giving everyone who signs up a copy of my Novel Idea Generator. This is the exact method I use when I’m brainstorming ideas for a new book. The workbook contains step-by-step instructions, a series of exercises that will help you find the book that YOU are meant to write.

Do you want YOUR Novel Idea Generator?

Are you interested in learning the skills to make you a better writer?

What are you waiting for? Sign up today.

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Want to Write a Novel? Introducing the Novel Idea Generator

Drum roll, please (go ahead, I’ll wait . . . )

I’ve been working so hard over the past few months putting together some exciting things for you and, tonight, I’m happy to show you the very first offering of my new WriteScout school. People often ask me where I get the ideas for my novels. The answer is . . . in me. The nuggets of ideas are within me, just like you have nuggets within you. That’s how two people can write two different stories based on the same basic premise. But the trick is to mine those ideas, to unearth those gems. And I want to help you do that.

novel-idea-generator-coverAre you ready to find the novel within YOU?

I use a set of questions when I get ready to write a novel, so I put my ideas together in a series of questions that can be used over and over again, in workbook form. The Novel Idea Generator is available on Amazon, but . . . you can get your Kindle copy FREE.

If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel, but didn’t know where to start, this workbook will get you started. Are you ready?

Get your FREE Novel Idea Generator!

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If you’ve signed up for National Novel Writing Month, but you don’t know what your story is, this workbook will give you at least three ideas for to make you a WINNER. These are the step by step techniques that helped me write ten novels, three of which have been published. The exercises are designed to give you characters, settings and plots that combine to form the story that YOU are meant to write. Now . . . are you ready to start YOUR novel?

Get YOUR free Novel Idea Generator workbook now

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Draft to 50K: Point of View

Blank to 50K(2)Point of view is the essentially the narrator’s position, how the story is told. Ideally, you should decide this before you start writing, though I’ve been known to switch partway through a book. In fact, when I first wrote Fatal Impulse, it was in first person. I got all done and my editor suggested third person. I changed the manuscript (a HUGE undertaking!), but think it was a better book for the change.

Here is a brief overview of each common POV, along with my bewares and tips:

First Person

This is the “I” version. The story is told from the viewpoint character’s point of view. That person must be able to see, hear, taste, smell and feel everything that you write.

Beware: it is very difficult to really get into your character’s head, and to avoid telling the story.

Tip: Get closer. For instance, instead of saying, “I heard the boom of thunder,” say “The window glass vibrated with the boom of thunder.”

Third Person

Third person is the he/she version. The story is still told from a character’s point of view, but through the filter of the author. Again, the person must be able to see, hear, taste, smell and feel everything that you write.

Beware: Headhopping is a common mistake. Remain in one character’s head per scene or, better yet, per chapter.

Tip: Add internalization. Much can be said by what the character thinks as opposed to what he/she says. Sharing your POV character’s thoughts is a way to put your reader in the characters head. There’s no need for italics or saying he/she thought. Simply write the character’s thought. The reader will get it. Trust me.

 Second Person

Second person is you did this, you did that. The story is told from the reader’s point of view. The narrator tells the reader what is happening to him.

Beware: This should be used sparingly. It can be jarring to the reader, and is tricky to pull off.

Tip: In short bursts, this can be useful because it truly does put the reader in the character’s shoes. Read the first chapter of Harlen Coben’s The Innocent for an example of how this can be used effectively.

Draft to 50K: Which tense?

Blank to 50K(2)You have your characters, you understand point of view, but what about tense?

Tense places your reader in time. It gives your story a framework: present? past? Think about your favorite novel. What tense was it written in? Pick out a handful of novels that are similar to what you want to write – what tense are they written in?

Present

Present tense is written as if the action is happening right now. Jane swims to the other side of the creek. This is seen often in YA currently, and can work very well in short fiction where every word counts and you really want to pack a punch.

  • Immediate
  • Energizing
  • Engaging
  • Adds punch

Past

Past tense is written as if the action has already occurred. Jane swam to the other side of the creek. This is the most common tense, and has been for a very long time.

  • Traditional
  • Freedom to move in time
  • Pacing can adjust
  • Control

Whichever tense you use, make sure you are consistent. One caveat to that – no matter which tense you use, remember that you can adjust your tense through your character’s voice. For instance, if you write a story in the present tense, but can have your point of view tell a story in the past tense. The same applies in the alternative. You can write a story in past tense, but have a character speak in the present tense.

 

Blank to 50K: What if I want to do NaNoWriMo?

http://lorilrobinett.comGreat! Good for you for making the commitment! Participating is easy.

  • Go to www.nanowrimo.org and sign up
  • Look for your local region (I happen to be in NaNoWriMo::Missouri::Fulton – and we have a Facebook page (that is woefully outdated at the moment!)
  • Check with your local library for a kickoff or informational session. If you’re in central Missouri, check the library calendar here.
  • Keep an eye on the regional forums of the NaNo site, check your NaNo mail, and keep an eye on your email so you can stay informed about local events, like write-ins and parties.

And if you decide NOT to participate officially in National Novel Writing Month, no worries. You can still participate in Blank to 50K and learn tips to help you finish your first draft.

Blank to 50K: Characters Bring Your Writing to Life

Blank to 50KWe’ve determined you want to write a novel, and you’ve committed to getting the first draft written in 30 days. Great. What now? Where do you begin? Some writers start with the plot, others with characters. Either way is fine. Personally, the characters are usually my starting point. They talk to me, take form in my head, and then I figure out what they’re up to. If you’d rather start with plot, go for it – but you’ll have to wait until next week for my tips.

Character Sketches

These are highly touted, and there are lots of worksheets and templates available on the internet. I use Scrivener, and often use their templates as my jumping off point, but that template is very basic. I suggest you do two things:

  • Write a detailed character sketch, at least a couple of pages. See the bottom of this post for a free copy of my worksheet.
  • Write an autobiography – your character’s life story from his/her point of view. A page is fine. This doesn’t have to be long, just focus on the high points – what is important to your character.

Character Spreadsheet

You need a spreadsheet for every novel/series you write. This helps you keep track of who you are writing about. Actually, it does a lot more than that – your spreadsheet can become your writing bible. It tells you who did what, when they did it and where they were. But for right now, keep it simple. All you need is a list of characters, so you can fill in the details for each character as you create their sketches. This is also a great place to keep track of tags that you use to cue your reader as to who the character is. For instance, in my Diamond J series, I use “Wranglers” as a tag for Beau, and I use “red hair” as a tag for Beth. Very simplistic, but I want those things to instantly remind the reader of that character. Another great example of this is the Harry Dresden series. If you hear duster and staff while you’re reading a Jim Butcher book, you know Harry is the character in play.

If you’d like a copy of my Character Sketch Worksheet (Word format) and my Character Spreadsheet (Excel format), please enter your name and email below and I’ll send them to you.

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Blank to 50K: Why you should let me help you write your novel

In the past few weeks, I’ve talked about the fact that everyone wants to write a book, asked why you want to write a novel, and advised you to write what you read. But I missed an important step . . .

Why should you listen to me?

I’ve done it, plain and simple. I have participated in National Novel Writing Month eight times and finished every single time as a winner.

http://lorilrobinett.com

My 8th National Novel Writing Month WIN!!

Even better than that – I self-published my first draft through Lulu and sold twice as many copies as most self-pubbed authors do. Then I took that (very) rough draft, rewrote and polished it, submitted it . . . and I happily signed my first publishing contract with CaryPress. It was released in 2014.

http://lorilrobinett.com

I’ve been published in Well Versed, “The Storyteller,” “The Heritage Writer,” “Writing for Dollars!”, and “Secrets & Strategies.”

I led my National Novel Writing Month region to Top Ten status (number of words / writer) every year I served as Municipal Liaison. I helped others finish the first draft of their novel in 30 days or less . . . and I can help you do the same thing.

Rev your engine up. Let’s go.

Are you ready?

How to Write a Novel: The First Draft

Blank to 50K(1)I’ve been writing for a long time – semi-seriously for over 10 years. I spent years on the first draft of my first novel. And it’s still not finished. So, how did I break through and finally FINISH a first draft?

  • Recognize that a first draft is an imperfect grouping of words, sentences, paragraphs. It is perfectly simply because it exists. It’s not supposed to be perfect.
  • Declare your intentions. You need to be accountable. You don’t have to tell the world, but tell a good friend. And have them check your progress.
  • Decide what method to use. There’s the snowflake method, or Holly Lisle’s index card method, or you can just fly by the seat of your pants. It doesn’t matter what you use this time. This time is all about learning and experience. If it works, use it again. If it doesn’t work, try something else next time.
  • Treat writing as exercise. Writing is like a muscle. Do it daily, and it will get easier.
  • Start. You can sit and think forever, but that doesn’t get that first draft written. You have to actually sit your butt in the chair, put your fingers on the keyboard and type.
  • Slog through. The middle is mucky. You’ll get stuck, the forward movement will be slow. Just keep going.
  • Finish. Find a way to wrap things up. It doesn’t have to be the perfect ending. You’ll polish it later.
  • Finally, put it away. Give the draft time to percolate and let yourself get some distance before you go back to revise. And celebrate. You did what very few people actually do.

Getaway

Getaway Glass Ring available on Etsy

Getaway Glass Ring available on Etsy

Getaway. What does that word mean to you? I posed that question on Facebook recently and received the expected responses: beach and mountains. But one friend posted a very similar response to my initial thought – bank robbery. Glad to know I’m not the only one with a bit of a twisted mind!

Seriously, though, getaway is something every single one of us needs in our lives. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my girlfriend getaway to Gulf Shores in October was an amazingly refreshing trip. It allowed me to “reset” and to come home with a new attitude and a fresh outlook on life. I was relaxed, truly relaxed, for the first time in many months. That trip also gave my dreams a kick start. I allowed my friend and her mother to read one of my novels drafted during National Novel Writing Month. I spent the evenings in my bedroom reading and writing and plotting. In the past three months, since that trip, I’ve done more to further my dreams than I did the entire rest of the year.

So, what does that mean? It means that getting away from your normal routine is good for you. We all need a change of scenery sometimes. The mere act of changing routine tricks our brain into thinking beyond the mundane daily tasks that we get caught up in. How many times have you heard (or thought), “Well, I was going to do X, but life got in the way.” Life doesn’t get in the way, our daily grind gets in the way. Change it up. Do something different. And give your dreams the attention they deserve.

I highly recommend a girlfriend getaway to the beach, but if you can’t do that right now, here are some tips:

  • Turn the television off. Seriously – even if for just an hour.
  • Take a day off. Alone.
  • Take a walk. Leave your iPod at home.
  • Buy a magazine that focuses on your dream. And read it cover to cover in one sitting.

By the way, one of my dreams has been to open at Etsy store to showcase the journals and jewelry I make using recycled materials. I took the plunge and did it. Please swing by and “favorite” my store, so you can see the new creations I come up with. There’s also a Facebook page, where I’ll run contests periodically. Stop by there and “Like” it, and I’ll send you a coupon code good for January 2014. The ring at the top of this post is available.

Winning National Novel Writing Month (reminiscing . . . )

Aside

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In honor of NaNoWriMo and all those who are currently returning to the real world, I thought I’d share something I wrote in 2009 after winning. I hope you enjoy it:

I don’t know why I’m surprised that December is nearly half over. It happens faster and faster each year. I used to think it was because I was getting older and quit looking forward to things so much (you know, when I was a kid I couldn’t wait for Christmas but it seemed to take forever to get here . . . the watched pot never boils – like that). But now, I think the world is just spinning faster. I can almost hear the wind whistling past my ears.

Oh, wait . . . that was just the cold, December wind. Never mind.

It has been 21 days since my last post.

Oh, wait . . . I’m not giving my confession.

Sorry. My NaNo fried brain isn’t functioning quite right just yet. What I wanted to tell you is that (drumroll, please . . . ahem . . . really – make that drumroll sound or drum your fingers on your desk, whatever works best for you) . . . I WON!!! That’s right, you are now looking at (sort of) one of the proud winners of National Novel Writing Month 2009. I finished with a grand total of 50,629 words. (OK, I’m bowing now . . . thank you, thank you . . .).

What was my secret for success?

1) Write every day. My goal was to write 1,667 each day. (Some days I made it, some days I didn’t.)

2) Don’t read.

3) Use every available moment. If you work, eat at your desk and write yourself an email. Carry a notebook with you. If you commute, carry a handheld recorder. You don’t have to dictate your story, but you can talk to yourself – what if this, what if that, how can you screw with your main character’s life . . .

4) Bribery. I want a Nook so bad I can taste it. So, I promised myself that if I win, I’ll buy one. Now, I’m just waiting for the money to appear. (wait! what the? there’s no prize $$ for winning NaNo? Dang!!)

And how do I feel about my winning story, Gateway to Hell? My story is just getting wound up, just started at about 47K words, actually, and part of me really wants to finish it. But first, I need to get through the holidays. I’ve got a house to decorate, Christmas cards to make, dinner rolls to make, gifts to buy. And since I’ve only got 2 weeks ’til the Big Day, I think I’ll take a break from writing and focus on the holiday and family. Probably should, since I kind of neglected the fam last month. So, my plan is to smother them with attention for the next two weeks, and then start a serious rewrite of Denim & Diamonds. Those characters have been talking to me again (and so have my characters from NaNo ’08. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m schizo. Then again, for a writer, is that a bad thing?), which is like slipping into my favorite pair of faded Tommy jeans on a Sunday morning. It feels right. Who knows, maybe with a touch more suspense and a dash more sex . . . it might end up being a whole new book!

So, that’s how I did it and those are my writing plans now that NaNo is over and I must return to the land of mortals . . . what are yours?