OOOOO Boy! October is Outlining Month!

Hey y’all!

Ohhhhh Boy am I excited for October! If you’re like me, you like to spend way too much time thinking about your story and your world before you even know what your plot is. The good news is that that’s called outlining and it’s incredibly useful. So take the time this month to plan out your story.

Why now? Well it’s not just that great alliteration of Outlining October. November (the month after October for you gregorian calendar fans) will be WooWriMo, or Wooster Writing Month. This is a “lite” version of NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) because we recognize that November is not a good time for y’all to be stressing about a 50,000 word goal. WooWriMo will be just the goal to write everyday, whether that be on one project or multiple or rewrite/editing a document. Remember that WooWriMo is Wooster Writing Month. It’s all about the process, no destination, but having a clear plan can be very useful, so Outlining October.

Our two first Saturdays of October fall during Fall break which is both useful and not at all helpful from a club perspective, but our prompts will be centered around the idea of working on something big for the next to months to facilitate participants in WooWriMo.

Goals/Tips for Outlining October:

  • Plan out main characters to the absurd extent. Don’t just use your character sheet as a cheat sheet for their appearance and name. Make your character sheet a chance to deeply explore and get to know what your character is like and what they’re likely to do even if you don’t end up using every detail in your story. Check out Develop Your OC on Tumblr or this post from our Tumblr for absurd questions to really get into that nitty gritty.
  • Check out concept art that inspires not just appearance, but the attitude you want in your character. Remember photos can be great, but drawings can also be great for character art. There’s a lot of inspirational character art on our Tumblr, but don’t be afraid to just google some physical descriptions.
  • Do some fanfiction. Just because you don’t have your main plot doesn’t mean you can’t write stories about your characters. You probably have some ideas for scenes… write them. Try writing them outside of what they’d do in the actual story, like what if they didn’t have to race to the top of that plot mountain, what would they be doing? Write it, learn some more about your characters and get comfortable writing for them.
  • Play connect the dots. If you know what scenes you absolutely need in your story but don’t know what’s in between, then write out those scenes on cards. Figure out what you need to get those scenes to happen and fill in the rest. Don’t be scared if you can’t connect everything, so scenes might not fit, but this is your story, so you can make them fit. Be creative.
  • If your story includes a long journey, then plot out a map of their route or what you think it will be. Visualizing the distance might inspire you. Check out this map generator for inspiration.
  • Prepare for senses and emotions. Find and emotions chart, like this one,  to use as a visual aid when you’re writing descriptions. Try to get specific, like this one, and diversify your list to get a wide range of expressions. Check out this book, which you can by in ebook form for helpful vocab and descriptions of what emotions look/feel like.
  • Read some good books in your genre (but not your topic) to get an into the right headspace.
  • Remember that your plans can change while you’re writing. Don’t think of your outline as a roadmap, but as a way to prepare details and facts about aspects of your world. Take your time!

Personal NaNoWriMo Update (What to Prepare for)

Hey ya’ll, I’m back. It’s been a weird week for me writing wise. TBH, I’ve gotten pretty lazy with my writing schedule since school started in fall and I haven’t adjusted back to summer schedule, but that’s why I love NaNoWriMo so much. It’s an excuse to write regularly and as usual I’ve started early.


I started NaNoWriMo back in April of my Senior year, which was just great since I had AP’s the next month along with regular school work. Thankfully I had a reasonable goal, but it meant that I had to seriously adjust my schedule since I usually studied for AP Latin before school every day (daily tests), which meant getting up earlier. I decided a few days before April that I would get up at 5AM and write my 800 words right after waking up, which was a personal decision which worked very well in a getting a routine sort of way, but I know from experience that I write best at night. What works is something that you need to fiddle with, is it better to do something that gets you to do it every day or to do something that gives you the best words to work with? What’s important is routine, which is why I opt to start a little early by writing everyday at least a week in advance. My routine has been a little too sporadic this past week, meaning that some days I didn’t top even three hundred words, but this week I’m trying to tighten that up. I’m going to try get up and go to bed at more regular times to discourage procrastination and make a specific time to write and make sure I do it at my desk or arm chair since I tend to meander less in those environments.


As for my NaNoWriMo survival supplies, I’m just about prepared. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I opt for tea since it’s an excuse to walk away for a little bit and come back. I tend to recommend water since, and this sounds ridiculous, but, writing is thirsty work. I recommend staying away from snacks during this season since they require you to remove your hands from your writing, but something sweet that you can suck on like lifesavers can be a real lifesaver. I also have an array of stress toys, slinkys, and bouncy balls for times when I need to focus on what to write next and a playlist of music that doesn’t distract me. Basically in the way of supplies, get stuff that can help you focus and doesn’t distract you.


Another thing that helps me is writing vlogs. Motivation to keep writing is crucial in a month long spree, especially if you aren’t used to writing a lot every day. You may run into dead ends or feel like you’re writing is bad or that you don’t know how to write something, which is usually when I turn to writing vlogs. I like Katytastic, because she has a lot of NaNoWriMo vlogs, which focus on the stress of writing like this. It helps me get into the writing mood before I start, like a pep talk before a fight, it can help you get into the flow quicker and remind you that other people are having trouble too.


Lastly, I want to address cabins. Those of you who haven’t participated before may not know, but Camp NaNoWriMo has cabins, in which a group of people work together to do their individual projects. In the past this hasn’t been particularly helpful for me, since I tend to be the one who pep talks other people, but it’s nice to have a group of people who can give you suggestions and remind you that it’s okay if you miss a goal, but keep moving forward. We will also have a group goal in our Writing Club cabin, which we can all try to meet together. Which reminds me that I will likely have a big addition the first day of camp since I’m a big ol’ cheater and I don’t like subtracting numbers from my project info every time I update my word count, so don’t worry about that, it’s just annoying not too. I’m adjusting my goal to fit accordingly, so I’m not a total cheater, I’m still pushing myself.


So good luck NaNoWriMo writers, I’m proud of all ya’ll and I will be there to give confusing pep talks and rambling stories just like on the website and in person. See you there!


BTW Cabin is under my name (llama-overlord), so look for me or message me or email me and I’ll add you in.

Cheating On My Draft with My Ex-Manuscript

Hey y’all, I’ve been taking a few days off from writing, by which I mean I slept in until 4pm a couple of days ago.


I said in my last update that I was reworking my outline for my current project “Roots,” and that’s how I started. You see the reason I’m so intent on finishing Roots is because I have this other project that I started back in middle school which has gone through several renditions to say the least. I might post some of the crappy old drafts sometime later, but the point is that it’s a piece I keep going back too. I work on it when I’m feeling down or like I can’t write other projects. It’s actually the first piece I ever outlined, and it’s usually where I go when I try a new technique or method since I have a lot of the world figured out.


Last night I was about to look at my Roots outline when I started thinking about my Old Faithful project and a few of the ideas I’d come up with. Somehow I ended up pulling up the Scrivener document and working with the character sheets until about 1AM. Somehow, I don’t know, maybe witchcraft or something (I was bound by its sneaky allure and forced to write (how dare it)). Like I said before, I’m not good with structured outlining fill in the blank sheets. I find them hard to navigate and a little unnecessary. Scrivener comes pre-programed with one of these in its character sheets. I have it pictured below so you can see what I’m talking about:


Scrivener Character sheet

Scrivener Character sheet

(Shhhh! Steam isn’t open in the background there while I’m typing this out). Anyway, it’s not that long and pretty open ended, so I’ve used it a few times when I outlined Roots the third time, but It’s not really the way my head works. I think the point is more to think about these sort of details before you right so you don’t suddenly change how a character acts or looks rather than as a reference.

What I worked on last night was these character sheets because I wanted to flush out my antagonists for the story (or rather have antagonists since I didn’t find the ones in my last draft all that compelling). I started with images, since I already know my characters well enough to know what characteristics they need to have to signify personalities or to demonstrate how they move. Pictures help me since my in-head writing is very visually oriented and pictures help me stay grounded or test out different ideas I’m weighing. Here is the corkboard mode on Scrivener with my character sheets:

Hope's Character Sheets for Storyteller

Hope’s Character Sheets for Storyteller

I focused a lot on facial expressions since I don’t tend to focus a lot on physical details when I write (I’m more focused on movements or the main details). Jaime, who’s main character, doesn’t really look all that much like Hermione Granger, but she has some basic details I wanted like long brown hair and the right age range (finding character models is difficult for non-mainstream body types, skin tones, or young women). Ideally my character model would be a little chubbier and have a braid, but I had to make sacrifices. The facial expression was more why I picked her; I found it the right tone for inspiring some major details about her, and I’m willing to stake a few physical details from the character model here as well.


I then moved into other main characters in order of importance to the plot (or in the order that I remembered them). Which led me to the last main character I had yet to outline: my antagonist. He’s the only character I don’t know a lot about, but I’d been running through a few ideas. I have no idea what it or they look like so I start plugging my ideas in one at a time and I run across one image I like so I look for images like that one and end up on this one:


Skull Creature by Kazenra (taken from their DeviantArt page)

Skull Creature by Kazenra (taken from their DeviantArt page)

What I like about this one is, again, the face. And it’s like magic. I know exactly what I want this character to be like. So I applied one of the methods I used for my Roots outline which is basically writing about the thing like it’s the Wikipedia page version and that’s my outline for the character.


So that’s how I cheated on my current project and I’m not sure if I’m going to set Roots aside because eventually something I’m proud of has to be finished, but I think I’ll keep working on both outlines and decide which one I’ll use for Camp NaNoWriMo this year.

Are Your Hands Wet?