NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 9!

The last day of NaNoWriMo Prep for 2016 is upon us. Buried in a back booth, delicious dinner over and fresh cup of coffee at hand, I plan on scribbling away until closing time. Cue the Traveler’s Notebook.


But for as much as I plan on utilizing the next few hours for note taking, the most important prep work I’ll do today is the last thing I’ll do today: sleep.

Gone are the days of working a full shift on four hours of sleep. Dead is the romantic notion of burning the midnight oil for the sake of my writing passion. Dark are the bags under my eyes if I don’t hit the covers by 9:30p.m. If I don’t want to have to deal with a manuscript choke full of plot holes, unfinished thoughts, and run-on sentences come December 1, I’m going to have to protect my sleep time just as fiercely as I will my writing time.

Because while my imagination can light up at any time, my brain depends on sleep to think logically. And logic is a vital part of writing an entire novel in a month. (Well, reckless abandon in terms of the clock along with copious amounts of coffee and candy might work for some writers, but I have no desire to return to my early 20s.) 🙂

So I’ll sleep tonight, and tomorrow at 5:00a.m. I’ll be up to begin the maddening, thrilling, fulfilling adventure of writing a novel in a month. Fellow writers, I hope you’ll join in, even if it’s just spending one evening with pen in hand!

Good luck to any participating in NaNoWriMo 2016!

– Melinda



NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 8 of 9

With only two days of prep time left, I’m relieved that the chapter-by-chapter outline is complete! Yesterday afternoon I had a spurt of inspiration that allowed me to be able to fill in the remaining blank lines. That means today’s focus is creating the character list.

Undoubtedly, there are writers who don’t even create a formal list. I am not one of them. Especially for this novel, which is the second in a series. The list for me is vital in remembering how everyone is connected from the first story to this story.

A character list can be as sparse or as detailed as you like. Starting with the main characters, I list name, year they were born, and basic background/backstory information needed to keep character motivation fresh in my mind. I’ll also throw in any physical details of the character that are important but which might be left out in the fury of attempting to write a novel in only thirty days time.

Having this information close at hand while writing aids greatly in keeping all the relationships of the characters straight, and to serve as a reminder of where the characters are coming from at the beginning of the novel. That’s why I create them, and why I would recommend creating a list to other writers.

What about you? If you write, do you create character lists? How detailed do you get?

– Melinda


NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 7 of 9


This spot in Georgia was a great place to sit and dream. Natural beauty usually stirs my imagination. Fresh scenes and bits of dialogue seem to float in to my mind like a soft spring breeze. I’m not trying over romanticize the experience; wooded areas are my muse.

As I continue to work on the rough outline of the my intended NaNoWriMo novel, I’m realizing that I may need to take a walk in the woods soon.

The major story elements are there, yet I’m staring at a mostly blank chapter-by-chapter outline. The time to truly worry about lack of scenes and dialogue is the last week of November, but I am trying to fill in the empty lines with at least a little something now, i.e. trying to curtail the possibility of ‘writer’s block.’

So I’m multi-tasking today by taking care of my responsibilities and and letting my imagination run free in the back of my mind so that by Monday I will have a full chapter-by-chapter outline. Even if they aren’t my best ideas. Even if the story isn’t as strong as it could be.

That is, after all, what editing is for. 🙂

What is your muse? Where does inspiration consistently strike you?

– Melinda


NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 6 of 9

Day 5 was lost in a sea of cookie baking. Like I said in the previous post, the demands of life, even the delicious ones, have a way of sneaking up on ya. I did, however, get something accomplished yesterday which dictates today’s prep work.


Plot structure. For me, it’s not enough to know what happens in the story I’m about to write; I have to know when it’s going to happen. So I start with the basics.

  • Beginning: the incident that launches the story.
  • Middle: the event that turns everything upside down, leading to…
  • End: the climatic event that brings the story to its conclusion.

From here my left-brain kicks in. I’ll list the chapter numbers in order and mathematically determine where each of these events falls on that list. From there I’ll fill in the rest of the general events of the story, one for each chapter, creating a complete, albeit rough, outline.

It’s what works for me, and I find it very helpful in achieving the goal of 50,000 words in the month of November.

How do you plot? Is there a specific method you’re fond of? Or do you just prefer to wing it? 🙂

– Melinda

NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 4 of 9


Today I plot, but admittedly, distractions abound. Not in the form of groceries, house work, or paying bills. Not even a nice walk in the woods at dusk. No, the distractions for the day are none other than Napoli, Lindor, and company, i.e. the Cleveland Indians.

Having waited 19 years for this World Series appearance, I can’t hardly not watch. Sure, sure, I may need to work on my plot so that I can outline the novel before Tuesday, when the countdown to 50,000 words begins, but…how can you say no to World Series baseball? 🙂

Isn’t that typical of life, though? We have plans to write. We plot and dream and scratch down ideas, and then the groceries, house work, and bills need tending and friends need visiting and woods need walked in and the next thing you know, months have gone by and you’ve hardly written a page. It’s not always big (miracle) distractions like October baseball, but no matter how distracted we get, the key to writing is picking the pen back up and writing.

What are some of your biggest/smallest distractions? How do you overcome them? #RollTribe

– Melinda

NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 3 of 9

Then it happens…


The plot has arrived. Rough and in need of more depth, but it has come with all the essential parts to flesh it out into a full-fledged novel. While there is still a long way to go, eureka is the most apt word to describe how I’m feeling at the moment.

So what am I doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo today? Developing the plot further. 🙂

What moments in writing have caused you to exclaim ‘eureka’?

– Melinda

NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 2 of 9


Today I am working on the plot of the novel, and I’ve been reading this gem to help with the basics.

Published in 1993 by Writer’s Digest Books, “20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them)” is timely even today. Author Ronald B. Tobias provides some great information and advice regarding plots and their types. His wit is also appreciated, and makes the read very enjoyable. I recommend checking it out.

I’m employing the use of this book because, honestly, I have no idea where the story is going. I only know where it starts, and even then, it’s the image of a lone girl in the middle of a snow laden town that I’m going on. A.K.A. I’m not going on much. But seeing as to how this book is the bridge between my first and third book, I can’t really scrap it, either. 🙂 My hope is that by reading about the general mechanics of plot and the most common types, it’ll spark my imagination on what could happen in the story.

So today I plan and plot and plot and plan. I will continue to do so through the rest of prep time. I will continue to, even, after the first draft is written and before the second draft can be touched. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, the story always has a way of surprising you, even if you think you know exactly what is going to happen before you sit down at the keyboard.

How do you plot? Or are you a pantser? If you plan, which resources do you use?

– Melinda


NaNoWriMo Prep – Day 1 of 9

Soon writers from all over the world will take up their pens (or keyboards) and attempt to write a novel in exactly one month. The measure of success is 50,000 words. That is, according to the fine folks at, 1,667 words each day from November 1 to November 30. That’s a lot of words. And unless you thrive on being a Pantser (i.e. flying by the seat of your pants), that means you need to prepare.

My preparation time is roughly a week before November 1, and this year I am utilizing a new tool to keep my notes together: the Traveler’s Notebook.  Appropriately named, eh? 🙂


I only learned about the Traveler’s Notebook within the last month, but am I excited! This beautiful purple suede notebook will be where I keep the basics jotted down, make note of my progress, and be able to scratch out any ideas I may have when I don’t have access to my computer. And of course it will be right there for easy reference while I am writing.

So today, on this first day of NaNoWriMo prep, I’m sketching out my main characters and their motivations. Tomorrow, plotting.

What do you do to prepare for #NaNoWriMo? Have a Traveler’s Notebook? If so, what do you like best about them?

– Melinda


The Inspirational Moments


It’s these moments that inspire the story setting. They say to write what you know. I’m not a farmer, but I do know that there are few sights in the world like dawn breaking over rolling fields and highlighting autumn leaves.

Which places inspire your story setting? For readers, which story settings inspire you?

– Melinda

The Improvised Moments

What do you do when you show up for a write-in on a Thursday night, only to discover that it was held the previous Tuesday evening? You order dinner and write anyway.


I had planned on three hours of solid writing time that evening among other writers, not dining alone. But there are plenty of curves on this journey, so improvisation is an important tool (and can sometimes lead to a delicious meal!)

What in your writing isn’t working out the way you planned? How can you improvise?