Camp WooNoOutMo 2019

Welcome back y’all.

It’s March and you know what that means! That’s right! Time to prepare for Camp WooNoWriMo! What’s that? Well it’s like WooNoWriMo, accept in the spring season instead of fall, and you get to set your own goals. Just want to finish something? Want to write a poem everyday? Want to write 50,000 words? Want to write 25,000 words? Want to just write everyday? Whatever goal you need, you can set it. My goal is to write everyday, like every WooNoWriMo.

So with Camp just a month away, March is a great time to prepare your story or your ideas and get yourself ready for a month of writing. For me that means testing out some ideas and getting my rules down. This will be my fourth Camp, so I have a pretty good idea of what my problem areas are, but maybe this is your first and you have no idea what you’re doing. So here’s a few tips:

  1. Write down everything. You’re not always going to have time to write when you have a great idea, so keep a notebook or a pen to hand ready just in case.
  2. Don’t edit. You’re always going to want to go back and edit, but don’t. Going back is the number one way to get stuck fixating on small details. Whatever the change is, just write it down. If you’re not sure if an idea is going to work or you have a big change that will have ripples throughout your story, write it out. Rewrite the scene, don’t skim for old details and try to rework it. Just rewrite the scene entirely. This will keep you writing instead of worrying.
  3. Try to keep a schedule. This goes for any time of year, but try to keep your writing regular and in a specific place. Don’t try to write around people who distract you or skip your writing entirely. Even if you don’t meet your goal for the day, you need to write everyday to keep yourself going. Not writing one day is like stopping while running a marathon. It’s going to get harder to get going again than it is to keep going slower.
  4. Stay on the same story. This is my kryptonite. Whenever I do NaNoWriMo I switch back and forth between projects, but you should try to stay on one project. Working on a different project can be equivalent to opening up the browser. You’re doing it because writing is hard and you’re afraid to face the page. But keep going. Work on different sections of the same piece, or rewrite something you didn’t like in a different way. Just keep going.
  5. Immerse yourself in writing 24/7. During NaNoWriMo I try to switch my media diet to writing channels and writing books. I usually have a playlist of writing YouTubers who I watch to get motivated right before writing. I find it helps ease myself into the headspace I need to be in.

The WooNoWriMo Diaries 2018 Day 2!

Hey y’all,

Welcome to Wooster Novel Writing Month (*external screaming*). *Name Redacted* and I are starting the month off write (PUN) with one day under our belts.*Name Redacted* is doing full blown NaNoWriMo (respect), and is already at a whopping 6,465 words! I sat down with her to see how:

Hope: *Name Redacted* how the f*ck*???

*Name Redacted*: Is this an interview?

HS: Yes.

NR: I wrote down words. ‘Sometimes that be how it do’ ((1)). No thanks to the Common Grounds atmosphere.

HS: *laughter*

NR: I learned that ‘sometimes that be how it do’ is a Carson quote, so you should probably cite Carson.

Insightful. I am doing the Wooster Junior I.S. adjusted version of NoWriMo, which has no word count goal, but I’m promising to write at least 100 words a day. I’m off to a late start because I promised I would get at least the first part of my third pass outline (there’s four passes total) done before I started writing. So I’m at glorious 190 words and hoping to get more done.

Our plan is to meet once a day, we started a group chat for WooNoWriMo participants to let you know when/where we’re writing and get motivation. We’re also getting ready for today’s meeting “Pitchin’ NaNo Hardcore with *Name Redacted*,” and doing word sprints. So hopefully that helps us strengthen our writing quads before a month long writing marathon.


*Name Redacted*: 1,667 words per day.

Hope: 100+ words per day.

((1)) Quote from Carson

Camp WooNoOutMo April 2018!!!

Hey ya’ll,

*evil laugh*


Sup, it’s Wooster Novel Outlining Month or WooNoOutMo. Specifically Camp WooNoOutMo. As you know, or do not know, NaNoWriMo has a sister program: Camp NaNoWriMo. Basically its diet NaNoWriMo. You get to choose the goal and the form (so actually the acronym is wrong…*sad face*). Therefore as this is the month leading up to Camp WooNoWriMo, March will serve as your time to prepare for the torment which you have saddled yourself with.

If you want to be part of our Camp NaNoWriMo cabin please email me your Camp NaNoWriMo username. We’re going to be doing extra write-ins to discuss our projects and shame each other into writing and CAMP DAY in which we’ll make smores? while we write… at night.

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!

(Some) Outlining Methods Pros and Cons

Outlines are not everybody’s thing. I know that, but they can be incredibly useful. I’ve said before that I wasn’t an outlining kind of writer when I first started, mostly because I didn’t know it was an option, but I’ve come around a bit and I’ve been testing out how to effectively outline this past year or so.


There are a couple of reasons I’ve done this, first being that I was getting stuck. I would write myself into a situation that had to be a certain way because of character traits and decisions made earlier in the story and because of said situation I was forced to go in a certain direction that I didn’t want to go in because it was either that or do a total rewrite. In short, I was stuck in a loop of starting over and over and over until I lost interest. Outlining doesn’t necessarily fix that problem entirely, but it helps test the waters for things that may be problems and helps me direct my characters away from directions I don’t want to go. I find that it also helps me write faster since I’m not spending as much time wondering what I should do next, and it helps me get hyped about my story. It’s not a sure-fire thing, but it’s certainly preventative.


I think there’s a misconception, which a lot of people have about the outline, that it’s a set in stone contract or a walkthrough of your story. The truth is that you may not even use the outline at all, you may simply make it and never touch it again because it may have already fulfilled its purpose to you. The point of an outline is to get you to think about your story before you actually write it. Brian A. Klems puts it this way in his article “Choosing the Best Outline Method for You” in Writer’s Digest:


“Think of it, perhaps, as a recipe. You can follow a recipe exactly for, say, a cheesecake, or you can add a bit of chocolate to the batter, and poof—chocolate cheesecake! Or, you can add a graham cracker crust and some cherries to the top, and you’ve got a different version of the same classic. Recipes guide us—but the creativity still belongs to the head chef.”


So, if you’re convinced, and you want to start using outlines, you may be wondering “What the fuck do I do now?” And I might respond “That is a very good question, I was hoping you could tell me.” Just as there is no one way to use an outline, there is no one way to make an outline. Here are a few ways people suggest you go about it, and some pros and cons to each strategy:


  1. The Expanding Outline (aka The Snowflake Method):


The idea with this one is that you start with your basic premise


Ex. Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water


Then you keep expanding and adding more details to it


Ex. Jack the seventh son of a seventh son with his twin sister Jill must hike up the mount Hecuba to retrieve the water of youth to heal their sick mother. à Jack the seventh son of a seventh son with his twin sister Jill must hike up the mount Hecuba to retrieve the water of youth to heal their sick mother, because they are the only one’s powerful enough to defeat wicked Zolo. Zolo almost kills them several times (with his henchmen, his giant hawk, and with his turtle Steve), but Jack and Jill persevere and face Zolo for one final battle when Jack falls from the mountain, leaving Jill to follow him down quickly or perish. ETC.


More information here.



  • Helps identify the places that need expanding
  • Can be used on the micro and macro level.


  • Long
  • Not simple


  1. Summary:


This one’s easy. Just start writing the story but summarize the conversations and scenes.



  • Straight forward
  • Easy to follow after it’s done


  • Not good for much brainstorming
  • May have to do it several times


  1. Skeletal Outline:


This is the one most people think of when they think of outlines. It’s like when you were a kid in elementary school and they made you do those outlines for essays that have the class hated more than writing the actual essay. You basically just use a story common story structure and plug in elements of your story



  • Easy to follow
  • Easy to organize and reorganize
  • Bird’s eye view
  • Helps identify key elements


  • Dull
  • May have to try different story structures out


  1. Free-Writing:


This is method I use a lot with in my outlining process. It’s basically just doing a dry-run of the story with low attention to detail. I use this when I have no ideas, but I think that writing will help me think clearer.



  • Intuitive
  • Engaging
  • Good brainstorming


  • Not easy to follow
  • May cause you to get lost or too focused on small details
  • May not help with the flow of the piece


  1. Contextual Preperation:


This one I think should just me standard if you’re writing a story. It’s not outlining the story elements or plot, just hammering out details about the world and the characters. What are the politics, climate, history, ruling class, etc. of the world and what are your characters’ motivations, fears, habits, ticks, appearances, history, etc..



  • You know what every element of the world will and won’t do
  • Good brainstorming
  • Good reference
  • Good descriptions
  • Good for pantsers
  • Goos motivation
  • You will probably use this


  • Long
  • Not step-by-step
  • No plot


  1. 3 Act 9 Part 27 Chapter Outline:


This is a basic structure that I’ve used before, more information here. You can manipulate the details, but it gives you points to touch on.


More information here.



  • Step-by-step
  • Good for making sure you touch on why things are happening and how your main character is influencing the plot


  • Dull
  • Need to make sure your chapters flow
  • Maybe not the layout you want


  1. Notecard Method:


Honestly I don’t understand this one. I think it’s useful if you have elements you want and don’t want to commit to a place for them yet. You can use notecards to move around elements easily. More information here.



  • Easy to manipulate
  • Easy to follow when it’s done


  • Long
  • Not easy in the brainstorming stage


June is Outlining Month (and also updates on Camp NaNoWriMo and more)

Hey y’all! I know I’m a little early, but I’d like to welcome you all to June, which is unofficially outlining month. Since July is going to be Camp NaNoWriMo, it seems pertinent in this next month to address the outlining for those of you who believe in outlining or those, like me, are focused on learning the skill and craft of the outline.


I’ve touched on my outlining experiences before on the site, but this month I want to focus on ways people suggest you should outline, the pros and cons of these methods, helpful programs for outlining, and, most importantly, things to look out for in your outline. I will be working with my current outlines this month (as well as getting myself mentally prepared for writing everyday), so if anything comes up, you might get some personal anecdotes as well this month.


Also, if you’re interested in joining our little Camp in July, I will post when Cabins open on the Camp NaNoWriMo site, so when they do you can join us online. Anyone is free to join us, in the club or not, so feel free to invite friends. Usually NaNoWriMo is set at a 50,000-word target, but Camp is set your own goal (basically the idea is to just write everyday), so if you’re worried about time and stress, this is a “at your own pace” kind of thing. No judgement and no penalties. Also camp isn’t all about novels, you can choose to edit or write poetry or short stories, so if you’re interested in stretching your writing muscles in a different style, by all means go ahead.


June is also pride month, so just a small reminder to be inclusive and open to new ideas or characters to add to your story. I’ve been thinking about talking to the Wooster QSU+ about queer character representation, maybe we could do a discussion with them when school starts up again since I know we have a lot of overlap and good character development comes from knowing the pitfalls. If anyone is interested in that please get in contact with me, either now or during the school year so we could work something out.


That’s all the updates for now. Thank you for checking in and please keep tuned in for more, and I’m always open to other people posting on the site, so if anyone’s interested please email me and I’ll be glad to give you access.

Reading my old writing like: “Did I used to be good at this?”

Hey y’all, I have something to confess today: I have a bad habit. Sometimes when I can’t write, I reread my old writing. And I know I shouldn’t because I’m in the drafting phase when all that matters is moving forward, but I can’t help myself. Sometimes it’s a cringey experience like rereading my actual published novel which describes my main character’s period cramps as something that’s so bad she can’t even leave the bathroom long enough to solve the murder she’s been hired to solve (…*facepalm*), something which I only confess to you in the hopes that you will understand why I am so uncomfortable with the fact that my entire immediate family and some of my high school friends’ parents have read this. This is my life… I cannot even with that book. However, on some occasions I reread what I’ve written and I’m swept away into this world that I created, and I think “wow, that was actually good.”


I think I hate this more.


It’s like: “Did I used to be good at this?” Honestly, rereading the short story which my current project Roots is based off of, I’m amazed at what I did. Sure there are things I don’t like about it, but it engages me in a way that my writing for the Roots novel doesn’t. So my question is: why? Is it just because this is a longer project? Or because the subject matter isn’t as engaging as the actual climax of my novel? Or is it the outlining? Is it because changing my writing patterns and methods dried out my work? Was I better off as a pantser?


I’ll be the first to say that I believe in outlining. I think it’s made it a lot easier to jump into my work and keep it going, but I can’t help but to wonder if I still need to adjust the way I go about drafting to this new method. I don’t know how to change that, but I know that I need to do something to adjust my writing style back to the way it used to be a few months ago, without going back to the older me who clearly didn’t know what she was doing.

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.

From Pantser to Planner: My Outlining Process

As I made the transition from school stress to writing stress, I decided that I was going to return to Camp NaNoWriMo this July. After my exams were done and I was moved out I realized that I would, inevitably, have to think about my current project: Roots (For those of you who know me and are familiar with the project this is the one that includes the line “His sculpted bronze arms were filled to the brim with crinkly chip bags and semi-squished pre-packaged deserts,” which I am both immensely embarrassed of and immensely proud of). The project, as of now, has gone through a number of changes from a Christmas writing club party prompt, to “only a short story,” to a possible project, back and forth between first and third person, then to an outline, to a partial draft, to a second partial draft, to a second outline, to a third draft which is still not finished, to a possible third outline to better fit the third draft. Basically, the “Roots” folder on my desktop is slowly filling. But as I approach July I’m realizing that my outline needs more work and that I’m not sure how exactly to do that.

Back when I started writing, and arguably even more now, I wrote without an outline. It took me about a year to finish my first project (a book whose name must not be uttered, and does, unfortunately, exist in paperback on Amazon) (I wrote crime fiction in those days), and in the end it was never what I wanted. The pacing was always too fast, I ran out of things to say halfway through, and it was often a pain to write.

It was after my first three full drafts that I decided should try this outlining stuff. If you’ve ever seen my laptop bag there’s a black notebook in there, which was my first dedicated writing notebook. Inside of that notebook is my entire outline for Roots. This is how I went about it:

What I find when I search up outlining is a lot of unnecessary shit. The idea of other people’s outlining systems is to figure out every detail of the story before you even touch a pen to the page. Figure out the plot, antagonists (and their whole life story), main characters (and their whole life story), point of view, motives, subplots, and et cetera. Where this breaks down for me is that when I approach outlining systems, I get to the point where I start to think “This is stupid, I’m basically writing the book now, why don’t I just write the book?” And in a way that makes sense, right? Why write the book twice if I can just write it once?

What I used to do is just start a scene and see where it takes me, it would take weeks to finish the scene because often I didn’t know what to write until I sat down and thought without the keyboard in my hands. Whenever I went to bed, to shower, to classes, I was thinking about what would happen and writing it all out in my head, which led to the same problem: If I was already writing it in my head then it would never be as good when it came out on the page because none of my head ideas made any sense. What was the point of writing it if it would never be any good?

And there was the trap. I couldn’t plan too much or I’d give up and I couldn’t not plan because it never got to the page. I needed a sweet spot. I needed to plan it out and know where I was going and if that made sense, and I had to write it down to do that, and I couldn’t use a system because it’s too overwhelming. So I started outlining. I started with what I knew about the plot. I knew that there would be two nymph siblings and a human girl traveling across the country and eventually landing in a mountain where the guy nymph dies, so I spent thought out those and jotted down the important stuff. I knew that there was more magical species, so I brainstormed those and highlighted my favorites to use in key plot points. I knew I needed several kingdoms so I jotted down the types of areas I wanted my characters to go through and split that up into sections and created a history. Basically what I did was ask myself what I wanted in the plot and what I needed to make and focused myself to think about those things instead of figuring it out as I approached the scenes I needed them for.

Then all I had to do was figure out the plot. The first time I did this I plotted like I use to write. I sat down with a notebook and went straight through until I hit the scenes I knew I wanted and I’d done everything I had to to get there. I jotted down quotes characters would say or scenes I had to describe as they came up. That way the pacing went slower because I wasn’t rushing through the boring scenes because I didn’t know what to do with them, and I knew exactly where those important scenes were. Then I went through it a couple times and crossed out the bad/ nonsense scenes and made sure my main characters were in every scene or addressed where they were instead. Then I started writing.

Obviously it’s not perfect, I’ve had to adjust some things (because I use Scrivner and it’s easier to have it on screen than on a notebook in my (horrible) handwriting, and in typing it up I changed some ideas), but it’s helped me, and that’s what matters. Find a way of outlining that helps you write.

Harry Potter the Instant Classic

My second recommended book is, of course, the man, the myth, the legend: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. It’s just one of those books that I have to recommend, even if you have read it. It’s a classic book, an epic series and an even better franchise. Anyone looking for outlining inspiration should take a look at Rowling’s process. She took 5 years laying out the entire series. She’s the ultimate planner (by NaNoWriMo standards). Here is a more detailed look at how she outlined Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. But, without Further Ado, a look at the first book itself:


The Following is a semi-spoilery look at Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Anyone who hasn’t read the book (and I mean read, not like “watched all the movies” because that’s a different experience all together), should not go past the Dust-jacket summary placed next to the image of the cover:

Harry and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.








What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said before? Going past the obvious adoration I have for this book, and the epic proportions of this series, it presents us with characters that are lovable and a their inter-personal conflicts which are never blown out of proportion (aside from, perhaps, Harry and Draco’s conflicts which go immediately to the extreme). Specifically the conflict between Hermione and Ron which is more of a subtle hatred which develops into a friendship when Hermione becomes friendlier. If you’re looking for a children’s level example of good character relationship building then I’d say check out this series. Also for good mystery development, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone‘s twist ending is well hidden and makes many plot points sting with second hand embarrassment in a second reading. I can’t say it enough that this series is a classic for a reason. Simply put, it’s engaging and charming. If you haven’t read this book before then WHY ARE YOU NOT AT THE LIBRARY RIGHT NOW?! If you have, still check it out for an example piece, especially if you’re writing about magic or boarding schools or for children.

Are Your Hands Wet?